Sunday, April 27, 2008
We’ve been on vacation in Charleston, South Carolina since Tuesday, so I’ve been neglecting my blog, not because I haven’t eaten all kinds of wonderful food, but because my hotel room doesn’t have wireless access. That means I have to sneak down to the lobby to use my laptop and my pesky family wants to do FUN things on vacation, not sit around the hotel waiting while I write. So sorry I've been negligent about posting, but I promise I have all kinds of really wonderful recipes to share with you in upcoming entries.
The reason we chose Charleston for our vacation is our daughter Melissa and her fiancé Doug live here. Melissa works at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Mount Pleasant, so she got us a nifty suite that even has a primitive kitchen, where we’ll be cooking tonight. There are grills in the courtyard so we’ll be making grilled chicken, pasta salad and tossed salad.
Charleston is a fantastic city for foodies, and we’ve eaten out at some great places downtown like FIG Restaurant where the focus is on local in season ingredients and Hank's Seafood Restaurant where they serve really fresh seafood. I took a lot of notes and plan on trying some of the dishes at home when I have a real kitchen. Yesterday we went to the totally awesome farmers market in downtown Charleston and I FILLED the earth friendly bag I bought at Whole Foods Market with all kinds of wonderful things.
Despite all the fun restaurants, I’ve really been missing cooking, so pretty much the focus of the whole day yesterday was about gathering fun ingredients for a tasty meal. I let the offerings at the farmer’s market plan my menu. There were some gorgeous oyster and shitake mushrooms from Owl’s Nest Plantation. We’ve eaten seafood every day since we arrived, so a big juicy steak smothered in mushrooms and onions sounded good to everyone. From the same farm I bought tomatoes, and baby red bliss and fingerling potatoes.
At the Rita’s Roots at Ambrose Farms booth, I bought strawberries, fresh grown white onions with long green stems, a head of lacy red lettuce, a bag of arugula and yellow beets – my favorite!
On the way home we found a nifty butcher shop called New York Butcher Shoppe and got some giant porterhouse steaks that the butcher seasoned for us. We also stopped at the Mount Pleasant Seafood Company at Shem Creek and got a pound of jumbo shrimp for our daughters who don’t eat red meat. Steve’s craving for oysters (three days running) still hadn’t abated, so he bought a dozen oysters. And just for fun and because they are in season, we got a couple of soft shell crabs.
The very friendly fishmonger lifted up the live crabs for our inspection and we chose two. Then he took them out back to prepare them. This apparently consisted of cutting off the face, pulling off the bottom flap and removing the lungs (which he said would KILL us if we ate them – or at least make us very sick.) That gave me pause, but when in Charleston…
Dinner was wonderful! We started with the oysters and some brie and rosemary sour dough bread. Then Steve sautéed the soft shell crabs, which were quite tasty, if a little odd. I roasted the fingerling potatoes and the beets in the oven with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. I sautéed the beet greens and nestled the roasted beets in the greens. The steaks were juicy and tender enough to cut with a butter knife (which was a good thing because that's all Melissa had!) Add a salad with fresh greens, strawberries, toasted pecans and goat cheese. Simply sublime!
Sautéed Soft Shell Crabs
2 soft shelled crabs, prepared by the fishmonger
1 tablespoon capers
Melt butter in a large frying pan with metal handle that can be placed in oven. Sprinkle flour on a plate and add some salt and pepper. Dredge the crabs in the flour and place crabs in frying pan top side down. Fry for about three minutes each side until golden brown. Ream the juice from the lemon into the pan and add the capers. Place pan in oven for five more minutes.