It's great to see Joe Patti's bustling with people again. The BP oil well disaster in Louisiana just about did them in. Something new at Patti's is the increased transparency concerning the provenence of their fish and seafood offerings, and that's a good thing. I never thought that the fresh salmon was caught in Gulf waters or that local fishermen caught the lobsters sold in Patti tanks, and so when I see clear, careful labels that show today's salmon is from Norway, the steamed blue crabs from Apalachicola, Florida, and the lump crab from Junior Barbour's in Alabama, I like knowing. For a while, the shrimp were coming from the East Coast of the United States rather than our own Gulf waters. That was distressing, but necessary for a time, although in the case of shrimp, it's great to have our local crustaceans back on the ice.
This great pile of blue crabs was still steaming when I walked by. The smell of Cajun spices and briny crab stopped me in my tracks. Buck and I have spent happy times up to our elbows in crab juice sitting at a picnic table, with shells and boiled corn spread out on newspaper. You have to work to get the succulent meat out. It takes a long time to complete the meal. A cold beer or icy chardonnay lubricates conversation. This is not a drive-by meal. It is convivial and fun.
These ethereal-looking pompano transport me to my first visit to the Vieux Carré, New Orleans, and dining on elegant Pompano en Papillote.
I popped into Patti's in-store gourmet shop for a warm rustic Italian baguette and was confronted by shelves full of tempting "to-go" treats, from seaweed salad to tiramisu. (You guess which was the hardest for me to resist. . .)