Big Red Car here. The Boss is home for a few days and is catching up with some long standing stuff, so he was up early this morning and met with a couple of his CEO types. They got to talking about who had been where this summer.
The summer is over if you live up in Yankee land but here in the ATX, well, son, it’s still summer and maybe the best time of summer really. Kids back at school, Longhorn football and still warm and sunny.
Where you been?
Well, this summer The Boss has been to Charleston, Daufuskie Island, Hilton Head Island, New York City, Charlotte, Key Largo, New Orleans (Nawlins), the Shenandoah Valley, Long Branch and has a trip or two left in the old boy yet. He’s headed to Destin next week.
Daufuskie Island is the most relaxing place he has been with no bridge to the mainland only a ferry, no cars only golf carts and the quietest and darkest nights ever. One night, The Boss slept for 14 hours. Huh? That’s right — 14 hours. There was nothing to disturb him.
You want to see dark? Be traveling around a maritime forest — huge pine trees — in the dead of the night in a golf cart and turn the lights off. The ghosties and spooks will be on you in a second. But you will learn how dark it is when street lights are left on the mainland.
Hilton Head wins the award for the most walkable and bike rideable beach on the east coast. Twelve miles of flat, hard sand that will take your measure and get your heart pumping. The Boss loves a damn good 2-3 hour beach walk.
Key Largo has the snorkeling, paddle boarding and jet skiing that you want and need.
It’s the food, dummy
OK, so let’s stop pretending that this is a freakin’ travelogue, this is about the damn food, Old Sport. That damn good Southern food that is the real reason why you want to go to those places. BBQ and seafood and sinful Southern vegetables. And joints.
You have to start with the BBQ, right? Well, maybe not, but we will be starting with the BBQ. Southern BBQ — southeastern really — is all about the pig. The juicy, tasty, tangy pig. Pork shoulders smoked to perfection and pulled off the bone and fed to you on a tasty little roll with a bit of slaw. You gotta have the slaw, ya’ll. No slaw, no Q. That’s all there is to it. Just a splash of tangy vinegar sauce or even a bit of mustard based sauce but be judicious. Let the pig do the talking here, ya’ll. Speak up, pig.
Seafood is the thing to eat when your travels take you to the coast. Great southern fried seafood.
You get it in places like Hudson’s on Hilton Head Island where they have their own fleet of ships. This is where the locals go to eat and it is on the water and the food is delicious and so fresh it will smack you. Right down the road on Squire Pope Road you can also buy some more seafood at a retail outlet of the same name.
Or you buy it at Key Largo Fisheries on — you guessed it, Old Sport — Key Largo. You can get spiny lobsters (only after 6 August when the season officially begins) and fish and shrimp and dips. They have a brand new remodeled retail outlet and restaurant right there on the dock on Ocean Bay Drive. This alone is worth the trip.
When in Key Largo, you have to go to the Fish House and eat the Fish Matecumbe which is a baked fish — you pick the type — simply prepared with diced tomatoes, shallots, capers, olive oil and lemon juice. The Boss would trade several of his best friends for a nice Fish Matecumbe. It is simple and delicious.
We will not even mention Charleston except to say that if you do not have the jambalaya at the Queen Bar — not the restaurant — right down from Husk for all you food snobs, then you have not lived. Big, big bowl of jambalaya and three beers and you might just want to spend the night in a coffin because you are ready to die, Old Sport. [Hey, the Big Red Car doesn't want you to die but believe me, friend, you will be ready because it literally doesn't get better than this. Haha, Big Red Car, STFU already, you're scaring the folks.]
In New Orleans you gotta get some beignets, gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, crawfish etouffe and shrimp creole. Not all at the same time, Old Sport. But you knew that, right? OK, yes, you gotta go to the Cafe du Monde for your beignets. It is the onliest place you can get the “good” ones in Nawlins. Sorry. Oh, yeah, chicory coffee with those sugary little tarts.
Sinful Southern vegetables
All you “right eating” folk just stop reading now and go get some kale and make a kale shake with some apple cider vinegar. Yes, I agree it tastes really, really, really good. See ya later.
The rest of ya’ll follow me to the hush puppies (yes, hush puppies are a vegetable in the South, haha) and the collard greens cooked in bacon with pepper sauce and sea salt. You see where this is going.
Southern vegetables are like eating dessert, they are not all that good for you but, oh boy, do they taste good. When they say that Americans should be eating more vegetables and fruits, this is NOT what they are talking about. Sorry.
The Boss’s favorite for Southern vegetables is Mrs Wilkes in Savannah — over on West Jones Street.
Don’t know why but it just might be the cabbage, snap peas, mac & cheese, butter beans, black-eyed peas, rutabega, squash, rice & gravy, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, candied yams, pickled beets, red rice (this is Savannah red rice and not Charleston red rice, let the name calling begin, ya’ll), collard greens, turnip greens, okra & tomatoes, cucumber & tomatoes, brown rice, potato salad, apple salad, macaroni salad, English peas & noodles, spicy baked beans and cole slaw. Of course, it might just be the ambiance, who really knows?
So, my dear friends, I hope you have had a damn good summer and are ready for a great year end. But I really hope you got some “Souff in you mouff” and if you haven’t, it’s not too late to get down to Savannah and get some.