Supper on the Sand - A Celebration Of The Gulf

This past weekend I was honored to be one of 500 people invited to a special dinner in honor of the beautiful mistress we call the Gulf of Mexico.  The event was a celebration for all that we've been through and to give thanks for that which we have been so graciously given.  Most of the 500 were far more deserving than I to be at this event.  They were the scientists, marine biologists and the everyday people that volunteered their time to clean the beaches and save wild life.  They were the heroes of the Oil Spill, the ones who did the dirty work while BP and and DC played the blame game.

They were folks like Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon who made sure to be a thorn in Washington's paw because that's what it took to get what little justice the federal government has seen fit to administer.  His counterparts from Gulf Shores and Foley were also in attendance as was Alabama Attorney General "Big" Luther Strange, U.S. Representative Jo Bonner and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.

But the three stars at this affair were not politicians but chefs - Lucy Buffett (owner of Lulu's at the Wharf and kid sister of singer Jimmy Buffett), Chef Pete Blohme (owner of Panini Pete's in Fairhope) and Food Network Star Guy Fieri.  Fieri is the second TV chef to visit the Alabama Gulf Coast in as many months following Good Eats host Alton Brown who made an appearance at the Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off a few weeks ago.  Chefs like Fieri, Brown and New Orleans' Emeril Legasse and John Besh are leading the charge to return Gulf seafood to its rightful position as the very best in the world.

According to Congressman Bonner, Gulf Seafood is now the most frequently tested and scrutinized food in the world and the results have been glowing.  Chances are your favorite restaurant that now purchases seafood from somewhere other than the Gulf is serving toxins far worse than those found in oil.  Some restaurants have actually bragged about serving farm-raised Asian shrimp like it's a good thing.  Gulf seafood drenched in BP crude is still healthier than the chemical laden seafood from those Vietnamese farms.

The dinner was served "family style" with a menu that was a celebration of local ingredients with every item coming from a local farm or net.  It was a menu of the very best Alabama has to offer.  And what a feast it was.  The pre-supper cocktail party included boiled Gulf shrimp, assorted cheeses from Sweet Home Farms in Elberta, lightly grilled locally grown vegetables, Bon Secour grilled and raw oysters, Shrimp Ashley and grit cakes (think polenta cakes with a Southern accent).

The dinner menu included seafood gumbo chock full of fresh Gulf seafood, a salad of spring mix, orange supremes, candied-spiced Alabama pecans, Bayside Bleu Cheese (from Sweet Home Farms) and strawberries from nearby Burris Farms with Perdido Vinaigrette made with blueberry vinegar from the Perdido Vineyard in North Baldwin County, banana wrapped fresh Gulf red snapper, sweet potato hash, corn meal dusted whole red snapper, corn and zucchini fritters (hush puppies), blue crab claws in New Orleans BBQ sauce and wood-fire grilled Ruby Red shrimp.  For dessert we were treated to a scratch-made strawberry shortcake made with custard and more Burris Farms strawberries.

Enjoy this short film in honor of those who gave their money, their time and especially their lives on 4/20/10.  Included are comments from Rep. Bonner, Gov. Bentley and interviews with Panini Pete, Lucy Buffett and Guy Fieri.

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