Pompano, Red Snapper and More – Much More

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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.

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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.

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Seeing these whole red snapper laid out so pretty reminds me of how luscious they are cooked whole, stuffed with a crabmeat, breadcrumb, celery, onion, parsley and lemon dressing.

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These ethereal-looking pompano transport me to my first visit to the Vieux Carré, New Orleans, and dining on elegant Pompano en Papillote.

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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. . .)

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Home with our treasures. What could be better than a warm baguette, a hunk of fontina and a tiny dish of Kalamata olives before a dinner of poached shrimp and lump crab meat dipped in lemon butter?

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5 thoughts on “Pompano, Red Snapper and More – Much More

  1. You know how to make a man hungry. My wife Anne and I visited Bald Head Island last weekend and Anne fried shrimp for my and my best friend’s birthday, shrimp that had been caught that very day. And I have dreams about the pompano en pappilote I ate in Orlando once. Pompano could be caught from the surf in Cocoa Beach, where we lived, and we had them frequently. Those were the days. And you want to trade that for the mountains??
    While I’m here, I’ve been meaning to tell you what I wrote to Richard Gilbert one day — and that is that you were born to blog.I can’t recall ever clicking through and being disappointed. You have a real talent for living the examined life and sharing it with others.
    Thanks.

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  2. Thank you for your very kind words, David. As for trading one great scene for another, if we get lucky and the real estate market turns less surly, maybe we can have a small treehouse in the woods here, and a cabin near a hiking trail in the Smokies, too. I don’t know. We are in fluid drive at the moment!
    I hope to fix that pompano dish this week — will post pics.

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  3. Lovely! But, seriously, are you confident that the Gulf seafood isn’t contaminated? I can imagine local health officials crumpling under the double-team of fishermen and oil companies (and the federal government, prolly).

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