Day 3…

ENTIRE EXCELLENCE

Today, on Father’s Day, we went to brunch at a Cajun kitchen, attended a Portland Sea Dogs home game, and bought our own live lobster to cook for dinner!

First of all, it was Father’s Day, so Tabitha and I enjoyed giving our dad cards and showing him his gifts. For a Father’s Day brunch, we tried out Bayou Kitchen. My dad loves the Cajun cuisine, and it looked like everyone could find something in the custom pancake shop/cajun cafe and diner.

Bright and Bold

Bright and Bold

Yellows, purples, and greens lit up the rooms, and the Mardi-Gras decor was definitely eye-catching! As we scanned the menu, many items looked suitable, and I had a difficult time choosing my meal. Bayou Kitchen’s custom pancake shop was extremely creative, offering many unique pancakes. On this section of the menu, there were many pancakes, from pecan pancakes to ginger pancakes to coffee pancakes!

 

Alongside a custom pancake menu, a Cajun section gave us many more selections. Jambalaya, gumbo, and Cajun omelets were some items on the Cajun addition.

Mom ordered a blueberry banana pancake breakfast, and Tabs got chocolate chip pancakes. Dad received a Cajun scramble, and I decided on the jambalaya. Also, we ordered gumbo for the table!

Blueberry Banana Bliss!

Blueberry Banana Bliss!

Mom loved her pancake, a sweet breakfast that started off the day with a smile! The texture of the pancake was perfect: filling and doughy, but moist. The blueberries were local and fresh, and the banana added a wet component to the dish. Splendid and healthy, this was an attractive dish and definitely a favorite!

Tabitha’s chocolate chip pancakes were filling and YUMMY! But as luscious as they were, they were a bit dry, and they could have used more chocolate to keep it running smoothly through your mouth. Overall, the chocolate chip pancakes were not flawless, yet still memorable, and I would try them again!

Bayou Kitchen’s jambalaya was utterly disappointing. I didn’t care for the tomato base, and it was served cold. The sauce was redder, where as our family prefers thicker, browner sauces. In addition, it had more veggies, and less meat, which I wish was NOT  the case. However, the seafood was fresh, and there was a decent amount of jambalaya on a serving. Overall, as good jambalayas go, this wasn’t one of them. I hate to say that I would not suggest Bayou Kitchen’s jambalaya.

Gumbo to be Reckoned With

Gumbo to be Reckoned With

But I must say, the gumbo almost made up for it… This was by far the best dish on the table! The whole family hogged the perfect concoction, and I much preferred it over my meal! It was moderately spicy, thinner than usual, and different than any gumbo I’d ever had (probably because we were in Maine…:)). I’ve been to New Orleans, and while this obviously was no real, authentic gumbo, it was impressive!

 

Overall, our brunch had ups and downs, but in the end it earned a thumbs-up!

* * * * *

Across the street from Bayou Kitchen was a fresh bread factory, store, and cafe. As we entered this perfection of a business, The Big Sky Bread Company was immediately on my good side! I walked in and a fresh, doughy smell drifted through the air. Stacked on shelves, unique bread sat, waiting to be devoured by local customers. Some unusual breads were the Cinnamon Walnut Raisin, the Deep South Cornbread, and the Black Forest Pumpernickel. The locals obviously stopped in often, just to buy everyday bread, but my dad and I were fascinated! There was even a sample of their bread with butter, and it was yummy, warm, and it definitely tasted homemade (the good kind)!

I also loved that the bakery was right in front of you, so you could see them baking the bread in action! It was also a good idea to have a restaurant too. On the menu there were panini sandwiches, soups, and salads. I thought it was a really interesting experience to be able to visit the Big Sky Bread Conpany!

* * * * *

Next, we attended a Portland Sea Dogs Game. There is not much food to write about from this baseball game, except for our third lobster roll contestant: the baseball roll.

"The Ball Park Roll"

“The Ball Park Roll”

For baseball park food, it was great! For a lobster roll… Not so much. Not that it was terrible, but there was way too much mayonnaise, and the lobster was ice cold, which is maybe a little too cold for a lobster roll in my preference. It was creamy, but inconsistent, and the lobster was nothing memorable. Unfortunately, my dad rated it:

 

Two shells

shell-harbour-removals

shell-harbour-removals

 

 

 

 

That’s all I have to say about the Sea Dogs game (they won!), but I can’t wait to tell you about our incredible lobster dinner experience!

* * * * *

Oyster Alert!

Shellfish Alert!

Somewhere along our drive from Portland back to Camden, we entered the coolest road-side stand I have EVER encountered. Advertised on roadside signs, Glidden Point Oyster Company is a live lobster and oyster shack. The owner and operator, Barb Scully, dives for the oysters herself, which is rare these days. “She says the technique is less disruptive for the shellfish and ensures superior taste,” I read from an article on The New York Times website. They are freshly farmed in the Damariscotta River, along with the lobster the Glidden Point Oyster Company sold.

 

 

The Three Not-So-Little Lobsters

The Three Not-So-Little Lobsters!

What my dad thought made this cool shack one THOUSAND times cooler is the “Honor System”. If the Scullys were out oyster diving, they would trust you to take the seafood, and leave the money. Luckily, Mrs. Scully was available when we came on Father’s Day, because we had no idea what we were doing! I loved the business so much, I bought a shirt from the Glidden Point Oyster Co. On the back, it says their slogan, which is: “You don’t win friends with salad“. A quote from Homer Simpson, I immediately loved the shirt, the slogan, and its meaning!

In the end, we bought 3 lobsters (totaling 5 lbs) and 12 oysters, all live on the way home!

* * * * *

When we got home, my dad immediately opened the cooler and tried to grab the lobsters. Big mistake! Though we had done this before, we had not expected the feisty lobsters! They were fighting and flailing against my dad, and, boy, did it surprise us!

Ruby Red and Looking Good!

Ruby Red and Looking Good!

But once they were boiled and shelled, they just couldn’t have been better! Dipped in warm, dripping-down-your-chin, heavenly butter, this lobster was succulent, juicy, and fresh. My dad, mom, and I all have the same favorite lobster part: the tail! However, my sister preferred the legs, from which you got practically no meat… But everyone has their preferences, I guess.

 

The splendid meat practically melted in your mouth, and the butter was a fantastic addition! I found myself wishing that it wasn’t gone when the plate was cleared. But I guess that’s how good food works.

********

The Bayou Kitchen

543 Deering Ave.

Portland, Maine 

Tel: (207) 774-4935

http://www.bayoukitchenmaine.com

********

Big Sky Bread Company

536 Deering Ave.

Portland, Maine

Tel: (207) 761-5623

http:/www.mainebread.com

 

********

Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm

707 River Road

Edgecomb, Maine 04556

Tel: (207) 633-3599

http://www.oysterfarm.com

 

 

The Teetering Tower: I’m Undecided

Heaven

Heaven

Have you ever been to Tower 42? Tower 42 is a seaside restaurant in Playa Del Ray. I recently went with my mom, dad, sister, and another family. I’ll tell you what I thought…

Tower 42 was pretty good; I didn’t think it was spectacular, and it was too pricey to become a regular there. I’m not sure if I will ask to return. Some dishes were made note of in my mind, yet some were not pleasing. I will have to think on it.

When I first stepped into Tower 42, I admired it. There is really no other way to say it; the décor was subtle and soothing, and an icebox full of oysters glowed 10 ft. in front of me. A fire crackled in the otherwise dim dining room, the flickering flames reflecting off of my sea blue eyes. It was calming, quiet —I liked it.

I Love Lunas!

I Love Luna!

I shuffled towards the oyster chest, my 4-year-old friend Tyler gripping my hand. “Don’t touch anything,” I whispered to him.

“Hello! Would you like to look at the oysters?” the friendly man behind the icebox asked.

“Sure!” I replied immediately, tugging Tyler over to the icebox.

“These smaller, brinier oysters are Luna oysters, and the ones to the left are bigger and creamier,” he told me.  I smiled.  I had tried Luna oysters before, and I liked the small, salty ones, so I knew which oysters I would order tonight.

“Thanks!”  I smiled brightly and walked back toward my dad with Tyler.

**********

Choices, choices!

Choices, choices!

“4 kids?”  The hostess forced a smile on her face and added, “We’ll get you into a private room.”  I smirked at the floor and thought, “Families get lucky here!”

Our table was huge!  And it literally was in its own room.  Two cushy chairs were placed on either side of a larger-than-life flat screen TV.  I took a seat and scanned the menu.  It looked pretty good.  My mouth watered at the sight of Espresso Bean-Crusted Sirloin Steak with Lobster Risotto, but it was $32!  I glanced over at my dad, laughing at something Angie just said.  No way.  Not happening tonight.  Too expensive.

“What are you getting, Meg?” my dad asked about a second later.

“No idea,” I murmured, but thinking of the Luna oysters.  “Though I know I’d like some oysters.”

“How about the gumbo?” Dad asked, pointing to the Soup and Salad section of Tower 42’s menu.

“Perfect!”

***********

Priceless

Priceless

This is what I ordered:  Fried Oysters, Luna Oysters on the Half Shell, and Gumbo (with oysters in it).  I was in for one heck of an oystery night.

My mom ordered some delicious Salmon Tartar!  The avocado and icy-cold salmon blended perfectly together, and the wasabi gave it a hint of spice that my mom really enjoyed.  A ring of fried potato held the dish together, and I thought it could not have been much better.

My dad, on the other hand, got a crudo that I didn’t particularly enjoy.  Raw Hamachi was surrounded by pickled watermelon and radish.  The watermelon was mediocre, and the watery radish didn’t taste like much, but I didn’t care for the fish at all.  It carried a stench and taste that was way too fishy for me, but to other perspectives, it was a tasty dish.  It probably didn’t help that I don’t like hamachi very much.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying my fried oysters.  They were perfectly fried, with the right amount of seasoning.  Crunchy crispiness coated the outside of the briny oyster, and I gulped them down like I hadn’t eaten in weeks!

Next, we received our raw oysters.  I had only two of the irresistable Luna oysters;  I guess I wasn’t in the mood like I thought I was.  Mignonette (an onion and vinegar drizzle) and a cocktail sauce were served with our oysters.  I used some of both! 🙂  Overall, our oysters were incredible!

**********

Not Quite Gumbo

“Entrees, entrees, coming right up!” I whispered to Luke as a bowl was placed in front of me.  My smile faded and frown lines appeared above my nose.  “I ordered gumbo, right?” I thought to myself.  The bowl in front of me was filled halfway with rice, and vegetables, only two shrimp, and only two oysters filled the rest of the bowl.  No broth, no moisture. I was disappointed.  The meats were dry, and there was too much rice.  I would not recommend the gumbo at Tower 42.  Luke, to my right, savored a fancy sirloin steak, pink and juicy, like we like it, and Tyler, to my left, ordered the kid’s chicken tenders.

My dad chose the — What do you know? – Espresso-Bean Crusted Sirloin Steak with Lobster Risotto.  I smiled regretfully, but I did get to try it!  The espresso beans gave the steak a deep, alluring flavor that you just couldn’t get tired of … but my dad disagreed.  It was medium-rare, pink and juicy, just like my dad and I cook ours at home.  I say, if it tastes like shoe leather, it ain’t proper steak!   Killer Shrimp, watch out!  Tower 42’s steak could kill!

For dessert, I selected “The King”.  A banana cream pie covered in peanut butter cream and chocolate ganache, this dessert was unbelievable!  I truly thought it was irresistable, unforgettable, and addictive.  The sweet

Obvious Royalty

banana cream filling was wrapped up in a Captain Crunch crust (crazy, right?!) and it blended together with the heavenly peanut butter cream like two peas in a pod!  (It reminded me of my Aunt Jayne’s Heath Bar, Peanut Butter, and Banana pie masterpiece from Thanksgiving!)  The chocolate ganache worked magic with the strawberries on the side, and I felt like singing by the time I had devoured the sweet treat.  Angie was practically in love, and she downed her slice like the world was ending.  My mom was the only one who didn’t love it.  She thought it was a little rich, but she liked it for one bite.  Overall, “The King” was a huge hit in the second private dining room.

In all, I loved some things, and I didn’t love others.  But now that I have written it all down, I know I would gladly take a trip back to Tower 42.

*********

Tower 42

119 Culver Boulevard

Playa Del Rey, California 90293

Tel:  (310) 823-6800

tower-42.com

Facebook.com/tower42

 

If Shrimp Could Kill…

Restaurant of Awesomeness

Restaurant of Awesomeness

A few weeks ago, Dad, Mom, Tabs, and I ventured to the underground favorite of LA:  Killer Shrimp.  Some people don’t know about it, but that’s a shame.  My parents have both loved it for years, but Killer Shrimp had been closed for longer than that.  Finally, Killer Shrimp has reopened in the Marina, near Mother’s Beach.  (I love Mother’s Beach!  I suggest it to anyone in for some fun!)

It was a bit fancy, but I could tell there was no need to dress any more than casual.  Also, it has a festive air to it.  Music is heard, but did not boom too loud.  The decor is creative, and you can’t help but stare.  The dining room is rather dim, but beautiful candles are everywhere, lighting the way.

Guess what I ordered?!  Well, it’s pretty obvious.  Since we were at Killer Shrimp, I decided to get their world-famous dish:  Killer Shrimp.   Killer Shrimp is a pungent Cajun-like broth, but almost a soup, that includes rosemary, garlic, other spices, and of course, large, delicious shrimp!  Tabs ordered their gourmet clam chowder.  And Mom and Dad both ordered — well, you guessed it — Killer Shrimp.  (Dad also added a lobster tail for $10 to make Killer Lobster.) Tabs and I also shared a side of garlic mashed potatoes.

What ingredients do you see?

What ingredients do you see?

As an appetizer, we ordered the ahi poke.  Dad and I used our eyes and taste buds to guess the ingredients:  ahi tuna, avocado cubes, scallions, ginger, lime juice, jalapeno slices, white sesame seeds, and probably some garlic.  What a refreshing combination!  I will DEFINITELY order it again.

Next, we received our garlic mashed potatoes and our delicious Killer Shrimp.  WARNING:  SPICY!  The broth swirled beneath my eyes in its reddish-brownish color.  As I stirred my fork, the rosemary settled at the top, and the shrimp peeked out of the surface.  I tasted the dream-like concoction.  It absolutely had a kick to it, and the rosemary added much character. 

Swirling Broth

Swirling Broth

Many people order Killer Shrimp with rice or pasta mixed in.  My parents learned, after doing this one time, that it was a big mistake.  They will bring bread to your table.  Use that to soak up the extra broth, but I’m warning you:  It’s spicy!

You see, different people have different ways to eat Killer Shrimp.  For example, my mom tails all of her shrimp first.  It makes it so much easier to eat.  Using the bread, my dad soaks up all the broth first, until all of the shrimp are exposed.  Then he eats all of the shrimp.  You know what they say, save the best for last.  Although, now that I think about it, the broth isn’t far behind the shrimp!  🙂

As I said, we also ordered the garlic mashed potatoes.  I have to say, it seems like the kind of thing that some people love, and some people don’t.  For example, my mom doesn’t like them, but Tabs loves the mashed potatoes.  So do I!

Overall, Killer Shrimp was a perfect inspiring experience.  Let’s just say:  If shrimp could kill from yumminess, I would be dead!

GO TO KILLER SHRIMP!

 

Our Feast

Our Feast

Killer Shrimp Restaurant and Bar

4211 Admiralty Way

Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

www.killershrimp.com

Tel:  (310) 578-2293

Twitter:  @KillerShrimpMDR

 

Life in the Caribbean, Day 4: The Northern Shore

Hawksnest Bay

Hawksnest Bay

We started the day with an early dip the pool, a healthy breakfast, and then we set out to explore St. John.  As we drove along the northern coastline, we decided to stop at the first beach we encountered:  Hawksnest Bay.   Tabs and I played in the shallow sparkling sea until it was time to move on to our next destination.  We didn’t want to leave, but we wanted to hit Trunk Bay before the crowds.

*****

Gleaming and Bright:  Trunk Bay

Gleaming and Bright: Trunk Bay

Apparently, we didn’t need to get there early, because there were no cruise ships today, so it wasn’t busy and full of tourists.  Trunk Bay had the best snorkeling I have been to yet.  We saw tons and tons of fish, underwater plants, and coral.  The snorkeling trail went to three different buoys, but we passed them all and even sailed out past the cay in the middle of the bay.  I could stay out watching the dazzling fish forever, but at last it was time to go.   On the left is a picture of the remarkable beach and bay.  Trunk Bay was a very respectable area, and we hoped to arrive again very soon. 

We stopped at Cinnamon Bay as well, but we only walked along the beach, so I won’t write too much about that.

*****

Me in Ruins

Me in Ruins

Finally, we were ready for our wilderness hike on the Leinster Bay Trail.  It took about 30 minutes one way, but before we even started the trail, we had to pass through the ancient ruins of a molasses factory.  There were about five run-down adobe buildings, including a horse mill, the slave quarters, a sugar mill, and the factory itself. 

Peeking Through the Woods

Peeking Through the Woods

The Leinster Bay Trail starts at the Annaberg Ruins and follows what was a dirt road near the beach of Leinster Bay, which the trail ends up leading to.   Along the trail, we saw a two mongooses and tons of scarlet and blue bugs that looked like braids.  At the opening to Leinster Bay, a new trail, called the Johnny Horn Trail, descends.  We did not follow that trail.  Instead, we stopped at the beach.

Hiking By the Waters

Hiking By the Waters

Leinster Bay was a multicolored ocean of sea animals.  Out in the middle of the bay, there were supposed to be a bunch of different colored sea stars, but we didn’t get to see them. The snorkeling at Leinster Bay is supposed to be unbelievably magnificent, but today, the wind picked up, the current was strong, and my snorkel mask seal did not work, so we didn’t do much of that fantastic snorkeling.  In other words, we did not make it to Waterlemon Cay, which was in the middle of Leinster Bay. 

Goodbye, Leinster Bay!

Goodbye, Leinster Bay!

Soon enough, we headed back home.  After hanging out by the pool, where we saw a huge frog, we took showers.  We headed out for our reservations at The Fish Trap.

Our Pool:  The Frog's Home
Our Pool: The Frog’s Home

 

 

*****

Dinner at The Fish Trap was not spectacular.  My virgin pina and banana coladas were deliciously flavorful and slushy-like, and all of our appetizers were almost flawless, but I was disappointed by our entrees.  Dad ordered the Surf and Turf.  His lobster was way too firm for me, and was not tender or juicy at all, although Dad enjoyed his New York strip.  The flavor of Tabitha’s soup broth (The Fish Trap’s Famous Seafood Chowder) was not very appetizing to me, and my jambalaya had too many dry, icky pieces of chicken.  Overall, the final vote was that The Fish Trap bar and restaurant was … OK.   I voted 1 1/2 seashells, Mom voted 3 seashells, Dad voted 3 1/2, and Tabs voted 5 out of 5, even though (again) she did NOT like dinner. 

We are done for today, so …. bye ’til morning!

Trunk Bay Window

Trunk Bay Window

The Fish Trap

Raintree Court

Cruz Bay, St. John USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-9994

www.thefishtrap.com

 

Life in the Caribbean, Day 3: A Journey Around Our Island

Today, we went on a kayak tour of St. John.  First, we paired up:  me and Mom in one kayak, and Tabs and Dad in the other.  A nice couple from Texas, who were on their honeymoon, came with us.  Their names were Bill and Jessa.  We started from Cruz Bay, which is St. John’s largest town, and we set out for Honeymoon Beach, which you can only get to by water or by hiking.  We beached our kayaks and snorkeled there for about 30 minutes.  This was my first real snorkeling ever!  Dad, Bill, Jessa, tour guide Scott, and I saw some really cool turtles and coral reef.  Bill, Jessa, and Scott saw a puffer fish under a coral rock, but Dad and I couldn’t get under the rock enough to see it.

Next, we kayaked to Henley Cay (prounouced “key”).  On the way there, I got a huge itching rash on my neck and chin from the too-big life jacket.  It stung and itched really bad!

When we arrived at Henley Cay, we snorkeled some more.  Dad and I saw some amazing fish!  They were striped thousands of tropical colors, and they were … just beautiful!  After another 30 minutes of snorkeling, we made the long trip back to Cruz Bay’s shore.  During our cruise back, the wind and waves seemed to be tearing us apart.  The currents were always carrying us to the right.  It was a hard way back, but we made it!  We had some problems, but the tour was definitely still worthwhile!  Thank you, Scott from Arawak Expeditions!

*****

Juicy, Red, and Irresistable!

Juicy, Red, and Irresistable!

After the kayak tour, we went out to lunch at the Beach Bar.  We ate at a table right on the sand.  What a great spot!  While we waited for our food, Tabs and I played in the ocean.  I had tender delicious seared tuna bites that came with a creamy, delightful sauce.  The sauce was a cilantro ranch dip.  I also had two virgin coladas, one banana and one pineapple.  Everyone gave the Beach Bar five seashells!

After lunch, we shopped a bit in Cruz Bay.   We decided to cook at “home” tonight, to save a little money.  That is a good tip for eating on vacation:  Cook at home at least a little bit, instead of going out to restaurants every night. 

Aaron's Catch of the Day

Aaron's Catch of the Day

Searching for some fish that we could grill, we went to Cruz Bay’s spice store and the fish market attached to The Fish Trap restaurant.  At the spice store, we bought two mixes:  Spiced Pirates Pepper and Black Voodou Grilling Spice.  At the fish market, we met Aaron, the owner.  He was incredibly kind, and he told us about a fish called corvino that was — according to him — a delicate, flaky white fish.  We ended up buying two long mahi mahi filets and one wahoo steak, as well as some fresh shrimp, and headed “home.”

*****

Seasoning Up the Fish

Seasoning Up the Fish

Right now, I am making dinner with Dad.  We are grilling the mahi mahi and wahoo fish filets.  I sprinkled our newly-bought spices on to the fish.  I put the Spiced Pepper on the wahoo, and I put the Black Voudou spice on the mahi mahi.  I also made garlic bread, and Dad made grilled shrimp and fried mashed plantains called “tostones.”  Mmmm!  Tonight is going to be a good dinner night!

Grilling Our Dinner

Grilling Our Dinner

Dinner tonight was very satisfying.  It was ranked by everyone in the house.  Both Mom and I gave it four seashells (stars).  Dad voted 3 1/2 seashells, and Tabs, although she hated everything except the pina coladas, voted 5 out of 5 seashells. (I don’t think she quite understands the meaning of rating.) 

The fish was very tender and juicy.  The mahi mahi was softer and less cooked than the wahoo, which I liked, but the wahoo, in my opinion, had way more flavor. 

Our Island Feast!

Our Island Feast!

Believe it or not, it was my first time trying mahi mahi, and guess what?  I didn’t really like it.  How do people LOVE that fish?  I personally thought it had no flavor, but the rubs and spices were fantastic. 

 

Tostones are Not for Me!

Tostones are Not for Me!

Mom really loved the tostones (plantains), and Dad liked them, but Tabs and I didn’t really like them at all.  The sweet shrimp had no seasoning but were still desirable to anyone who enjoys shellfish.  Overall, dinner was pretty good, and we saved a little money.  See you tomorrow!

 

***

Arawak Expeditions

P.O. Box 853

Mongoose Junction

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-8312

www.arawakexp.com

***

The Beach Bar

Wharfside Village

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 777-4220

www.beachbarstjohn.com

 

 

 

***

The Fish Trap Restaurant and Seafood Market

Raintree Court

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-9994

www.thefishtrap.com

***

The Shelves of St. John Spice

The Shelves of St. John Spice

St. John Spice

P.O. Box 1693

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI 00831

Tel:  (340) 693-7046

www.stjohnspice.com

 

 

My Mystery Seafood Journey

The Redondo Boardwalk

On Saturday (March 5), my dad and I biked to Quality Seafood Inc. in Redondo Beach, California.  We were going to purchase some fresh, live seafood for dinner.  What kind of seafood?  We didn’t know.  That was the mystery!  Whatever looked good, and was at a reasonable price, was what we were going to get!

As I biked there, I felt that cool breeze that I always feel when I am on my comfy cruiser.  It is a pretty yellow Daisy beach cruiser that I love to ride on weekend mornings with my dad.   Dad gave me directions over the sound of the wind so I didn’t get hit by passing cars.  He always does that when we are on the street instead of the strand, to make sure I’m safe.

Riding in Redondo

In one of my early posts, I described a seafood restaurant called Bluewater Grill.  We passed it on the way to the seafood market, and it brought back fun memories!

Live Santa Barbara Crabs!

When we finally got there, I didn’t know what to choose.  There were so many choices, and after looking around for a while, I still couldn’t choose.  Everything looked so good!  We saw crabs of every kind:  Santa Barbara crabs, ugly spider crabs, blue crabs, dungeness crabs, and snow crab legs.  Everything was alive and squirming in the tanks!  It was kind of creepy.

Oyster shucker behind the counter

In the cooked section, in the middle of the market, there were snow crab legs, ready-to-eat crawfish, dungeness crabs, and lobsters.  It all looked good, but there was something next to it that was even more interesting:  the clam and oyster raw bar!  We watched the shucker open the oysters and put them on a tray for a customer.  I wish that tray was for me!  I saw kinds of oysters that I recognized, like Kusshi and Pacific oysters.  I saw mostly other kinds that I did not recognize, but looked good.

Behind that was the live crawfish tank!  Now that was interesting!  There was a net over the top, and I could tell why.  I could see them squirming around like crazy.  We did not end up buying the live ones, but we did get the ready-to-eat crawfish.

Next up we walked inside to the fish counter, where we saw a variety of whole and filleted fish.  We saw tilapia, red snapper, huge albacore, sardines, anchovies, octopus, sea urchin, and tons more!  We actually saw one of the workers open up a sea urchin for a customer and dig out the goo inside!  It didn’t look very appetizing, but I like to try new things.  Of course, we didn’t end up getting one yesterday, but maybe sometime …

Little Sea Snails

We also saw a tub that said “Periwinkles”.  “What in the world were those?” I thought.  They looked like tiny grey snails, but I couldn’t see details because they were under a blue net.  I was so curious that I decided to ask a worker exactly what a periwinkle was, and he replied:  “A periwinkle is like a sea snail.  They are one of the best things we’ve got here.  Wanna see one?”  “Sure!” my dad and I chirped.  The worker described them as tasty, small snails.  They were small and they were sneaky!  The staff at Quality Seafood Inc. had to keep the lid shut on the periwinkles because I had seen some escape as far away as the crabs!  I accidentally leaned on three that had been clinging to the tank of crabs.  They fell off when I leaned on them.  Sorry!

My dad and I had planned to each get a raw oyster, but the line was super long!  Just after we grabbed our number ticket to wait in the long line, we decided the wait was too long.

Littleneck Clams

We finally ended up buying 2 1/4 pounds of live littleneck clams, a tray of ready-to-eat Cajun crawfish, and two male Santa Barbara crabs.  When we went back to the periwinkle monger, he was super surprised to hear us order a huge handful of periwinkles!  He said they were good, but he was still very surprised that a little girl wanted to try them.

Riding Home to Cook Our Delicious Dinner!

We packed up our blue bags of seafood and biked home to Mom and Tabs.  We had a scrumptious dinner with good, fresh steamed seafood.  The dinner was so good.  The crawfish (or crayfish) were small and did not have much juice when we sucked the heads, but the tails were full of juicy meat. 

The crab meat was enormously succulent, and I loved the delicious male Santa Barbara crabs.  One of them was a big fighter and kept clawing on things in the sink, like the big metal colander.  The other one was very calm, and I think the fighter tasted a lot better. 

The clams were big and juicy!  These littleneck clams were good with lemon, like my dad made them, but I agree with my mom.  We say they would probably have been better with a nice sauce. 

The periwinkles were long and escargot-like.  They coiled up inside of their rock-hard shells like tiny snakes.  They were probably a half-inch long, and less than a centimeter tall.  They didn’t taste like much by themselves, but dipped in garlic butter, I bet they would be great!  (They were very slimy!)

Dad threw in a surprise.  We had some shrimp in the freezer, so my dad cooked them and put them on a plate with fresh lemons, just like he served the clams.   Top it all off with a bowl of roasted cauliflower and broccoli with spicy Cajun seasoning heavily sprinkled on top, and it was the best meal I have had in a long time!

I had a splendid day, and I think my family had one too.  It was a memorable bicycle journey to get our dinner, and I can’t wait to do it again!

Quality Seafood, Inc.

130 South International Boardwalk

Redondo Beach, CA 90277

(310) 372-6408

http://www.qualityseafood.net/

Chef Megan’s Cajun Cooking With Daddy

Shrimp Etouffee!

One night, my dad and I made shrimp etouffee.  We had so much fun!  Here is the recipe (which comes from my dad’s cookbook, The Best of New Orleans, by Brooke Dojny) and how we made it:

For the Roux:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 TBS flour

1 large onion, chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped (or 3 tsp crushed garlic from a jar)

2 cups bottled clam juice

1 tsp dried basil

1tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (One of my favorite spices!)

1/2 tsp salt 

For the Shrimp:

6 TBS butter

8 green onions, thinly sliced (white and tender green parts)

2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

3 cups hot cooked white rice

Me Chopping Celery (Carefully!)

First, before my dad came home from work, I chopped up the celery and green onions, and I seeded and chopped a large bell pepper, all with an extremely sharp knife.  (I had to make sure I was really careful, because knives are sharp and dangerous.  You have to know what you are doing before picking up a sharp knife.  If you are a kid, make sure an adult gives you permission and is watching you.)  My mom (who doesn’t like to cook that much) tailed the medium shrimp.  Soon, my dad came home and said, “Those are wonderfully cut, Meg!”  Then we started the roux.  (My daddy tells me that a roux is a base that is added to other sauces to thicken them.)

In our big red Dutch oven, we heated the vegetable oil over medium heat for one minute.  Then we added 6 tablespoons of flour to the heated oil.  We turned the burner to medium-high and stirred constantly until the roux turned brownish.  (The recipe says to continue this until the roux is a “rich mahogany color”.)  If you try to make this, which you should, watch the roux carefully to prevent burning.

Stirring the Vegetables Into the Roux

Then we added the onion, green bell pepper, celery, and garlic, and we cooked it, stirring frequently, until the vegetables began to soften.  We whisked in the clam juice, and brought it to a boil.  We then cooked it, stirring constantly, for one minute.  Time for more adding:  Dad and I stirred in the basil, thyme, cayenne, and salt, and reduced the heat to low.  We cooked the sauce with the lid on for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Stirring the Sauce

Time to prepare the shrimp!  In one of our large, heavy skillets, we melted half of the butter (3 tablespoons) over medium heat.  We added the green onions and shimp, and we cooked it for about three minutes, until the shimp turned pink.  We then stirred in the lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.

Starting the Shrimp (Yum!)

Finally, we added the shrimp mixture to the roux and vegetables. 

Mixing the Final Creation!

 We cut the remaining tablespoons of butter into small pieces.  We lowered the heat to very low and added the butter pieces, one at a time, to the etouffee, stirring well after adding each piece.  (The recipe says that the object is to produce a creamy texture.)  Last, we stirred in the parsley and hot pepper sauce, and it was done!

We served it over rice.  The recipe said it serves six, but my family of four gobbled it all up!  It was so good, and we hope you try this recipe too, even if you can’t finish it!

A Satisfied Customer! (My Sister Tabitha Loved It!)

My favorite part of the night was finally eating my creation.  It made up for the hard work (not to mention cutting with a scary big knife).  Again, be careful with it!  This was such a fun experience that I hope you can try too.

“The Great Food Truck Race” Premiere Night!

Standing on the Red Carpet!

Can you imagine being given $500, asked to drive from Los Angeles to San Diego, and asked to sell more food from your truck than any of your competitors?  That’s the situation that contestants of the new show “The Great Food Truck Race” are in.  “The Great Food Truck Race” is a new TV show on Food Network.  So far only one episode has been on TV.  I saw that first episode at the premiere on Sunday night.

The contestants in the show are Nom Nom, Grill Em All, Nana Queen’s, Austin Daily Press, Crepes Bonaparte, Spencer on the Go, and Ragin’ Cajun, where the premiere was held.  Some of our friends work there, so we definitely wanted Ragin’ Cajun to win!

Picture on the Truck

The Music was Jazzy!

Ragin’ Cajun is a great restaurant, which you can see on my previous post “Ragin’ Cajun – New and Old“.  Anyway, the premiere party was amazing!  Thanks to Stephen for inviting us!  There was lots of free food, and I had jambalaya and Coke.  They had a band playing New Orleans jazz music!  Everything was spectacular!

All Teams Gathered On Stage

After we ate, we sat down on the chairs in front of the stage.  Stephen, the owner of Ragin’ Cajun, introduced us to all of the contestants that were there.  For Nom Nom, the only person who came was a girl named Jennifer Green.  For Grill Em All, the three men were all there:  Ryan, Matt and Joel.  (We did not know who they were, but we ate dinner in the chairs right in front of them!).  For Nana Queen’s, sisters Janel and Shanel were there.  “Banana Man” Rick was not with them.  For Austin Daily Press, Cory was there, but none of his other teammates were there.  For Crepes Bonaparte, Matthew was there, and his teammates were on their honeymoon in South Africa!  For Spencer on the Go, one of them was there, but I don’t know who it was.  For Ragin’ Cajun, Stephen, Joey (his former boss), and Jazmina were the contestants.  They were all pretty cool!

Stephen, Jazmina, and Joey Relaxing on Top of the Truck

After that, we saw the show.  They drove from LA to San Diego, and when they finally got there, they had to look for a place to make business.  When they found their place, they started selling.  At the end of the 48 hours they had, they met the host, Tyler Florence, and he announced the winner.  Nom Nom won.  Listed after everyone else, the team that came in last, and had to drive home, was … Nana Queen’s.  My dad and I were sure that Spencer on the Go was going home.  From what I saw, Nana Queen’s did not look like it was going to lose.  They had some good food:   many different kinds of banana pudding and hot, spicy wings!  It sounded OK, but I’m glad they lost instead of Ragin’ Cajun.

After the show, I walked home with my family, Mardi Gras beads dangling from my neck.  It was an enormously fun premiere!  Thanks again to Stephen, Jazmina, Joey, and everyone at Ragin’ Cajun for inviting us!  We had a fantastic time!

Huge Crowd Coming to Enjoy the Wonderful Premiere!

Ragin’ Cajun – New and Old

Last Saturday, my family walked out to Ragin’ Cajun, a cajun restaurant in Hermosa Beach.  Our family loves Ragin’ Cajun and sadly, it is losing its lease.  But the good news is they are moving to El Segundo, and we know that because Stephen the owner told us.

The moment I sat down at our table, I looked at all of the decorations on the walls and ceiling.  Of course, I recognized all of them, because we are one of Ragin’ Cajun’s best customers!  We come almost weekly. 

I stared up at the green frogs clinging on to the bayou blue ceiling.

Anyway, for our appetizer, we ordered delicious fried oysters. 

Me pouring hot sauce into the cocktail sauce to make a spicier mixture!

Since they come with spicy cocktail sauce, I always add the extra hot sauces that they leave on the table for me:  garlic, pepper, raspberry chipotle, hot, and regular chipotle.  My dad says he likes the sauces I make, and I love them too.  I make different mixes every time.  We always dip our oysters in them, except for Tabitha, my 5-year-old sister who is afraid that the sauces are too spicy.  She eats her oysters plain, but as I like to say, at least she likes oysters!

Deciding Between Gumbo and Bayou Bisque (Shrimp, Crab and Corn).

Next up was my bowl of spicy gumbo.  It was chicken and sausage gumbo, my favorite.  Luckily, I had some lemonade to cool my mouth off.  My dad ordered his own favorite:  stuffed snapper smothered in crawfish etouffee.  He always loves his meals at Ragin’ Cajun, and so do I.

My delicious and fire-in-your-tummy spicy gumbo!

When we left, our waitress, Jazmin, and the owner, Stephen, took us outside, behind the restaurant, and let us take a picture with them in front of the new Ragin’ Cajun food truck.  Stephen told us that he and Jasmin drove around the country in the truck for a new TV show.  We don’t know the name of it, but Stephen invited us to the premiere!  I know I’ll watch it, because I love Ragin’ Cajun, but I don’t know if you will.  You should decide because the premiere is August 15, 2010.  I can’t wait!

Owner Stephen, Jazmin, Mom, Tabitha, and I in front of the Ragin' Cajun food truck.

Ragin’ Cajun Cafe

422 Pier Avenue

Hermosa Beach, California

http://www.ragincajun.com/