My parents were in town visiting recently, and I wanted to make a special dinner. Lobster is an expensive ingredient, but life is short and sometimes, one must indulge. Continue reading “Southern Coastal Heaven: Lobster Mac & Cheese”
Bowens Island Restaurant
Charleston, South Carolina
In my short six months as a Charlestonian, I’ve learned one very accommodating notion about the food scene: The Holy City offers a dining experience for every frame of mind. Without a doubt, diners will find their every hearts’ desire–Want high-end fare, served with keen attention to detail on white tablecloths to the tune of jazz music? How about brunch in a funky roadside dive or on the porch of a historic Victorian home-turned-culinary delight? Maybe it’s serenity you seek in the natural surroundings of the Lowcountry–a place where you can gaze upon the marshlands while sinking your teeth into the ocean’s bounty. Chucktown has it all.
While hand-crafted cocktails and perfectly plated entrées are a luxury, sometimes just the taste of crunchy fried shrimp or a good hush-puppy dunked in cocktail sauce and chased by a cold glass of sweet tea does the trick. On a warm Friday night recently, I found such a place: Bowens Island Restaurant. Down home and casual as can be, you’d never know it existed (the restaurant has no website or Facebook page) unless you had a little insider insight.
Just as traffic breaks free on the way out to Folly Beach, visitors will notice a large spray painted sign which points the way down a washed out dirt road to 1870 Bowens Island Rd. Take this road slowly, not just to avoid a flat tire, but because you won’t want to miss the glorious mansions on each side of the road, flanked by shade trees and grandiose Southern porches.
You’ll stand in line to place your order. It can be a long line, because people are willing to wait for good food. I met some friends there around 7 p.m. on a weekend, and we waited about 10-15 minutes.
Views of boats motoring up to the docks, the smell of fresh-caught seafood and the sun setting over the water will keep you pretty entertained. Not to mention the anticipation of at least 10 local brews on tap.
There’s not a bad seat in the house–or outside “the house” for that matter. Take your pick of where to rest your weary bones: Indoor dining room, indoor bar, or outside on the deck facing the water. Should you pick inside, be forewarned, there’s no air conditioning. Ceiling fans and the natural sea breeze keep the air circulating. The dining room is a bustling place. Waiters come barreling out of the kitchen with trays of hot fried seafood, hollering the name on your order.
Orders are served in recyclable cartons with plastic utensils. A big roll of paper towels sits on each table. The menu has everything from fried and boiled shrimp to in-season oysters and fried chicken tenders. The food is well seasoned, hot upon arrival and for those blessed to have eaten a lot on the coast, familiar. Unlike a large percentage of Charleston dining establishments, there won’t be an item on this menu you can’t pronounce or an ingredient you have to question. Hush-puppies, french fries and coleslaw come with just about everything. The “Big Ol’ Seafood Platter” is the most expensive thing on the menu, coming in at $19. Simple, and Some Kinda Good!
If your idea of a night on the town is a laid back, no fuss Lowcountry experience, this is your spot. Open six nights a week from 5 – 10 p.m., you can bet I’ll be there again soon, sipping on a cold Corona.
Now based in Charleston, South Carolina, Georgia native Rebekah Faulk is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC’s “The Taste,” she is the former Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the television program Statesboro Cooks. From 2012 – ’14, she appeared regularly as Celebrity Chef at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers’ Market and wrote as a guest blogger for Visit Savannah and The Local Palate. In addition, Faulk’s work is published in Moments magazine and Connect Statesboro. Her culinary accomplishments are recognized in two publications: She is a featured alumna in Georgia Southern Magazine (Spring ’14) and the “Go Girl!” in Moments magazine (March 2104), a tabloid for Moms and Modern Women. To learn more, visit RebekahFaulk.wix.com/RebekahFaulk.
Valentine’s Day is well on its way, and if you find yourself without a restaurant reservation, or simply prefer to have a romantic night at home, I’ve got a three course restaurant-quality meal that’s Some Kinda Good and easy to prepare. What’s more romantic than setting the mood in your own home, and cooking next to the one you love? Continue reading “Table for Two at Home”
In my mind, coastal Georgia and everything that comes along with it–like Lowcountry boil parties and oyster roasts–is next to Jesus. With my Holiday Cheese Ball in tow, I attended my first oyster roast in Savannah recently and ate my fill of the slippery, salty mollusks. The New Year’s Eve get-together was a fantastic way to say goodbye 2014 and hello 2015, while at the same time learning a thing or two about how the locals throw a sho’ ’nuff (sure enough) shindig.
Longtime Savannah food writer Martha Nesbit describes the scene at an oyster roast perfectly in her cookbook, Savannah Celebrations. “Singles or clusters are roasted over a sturdy piece of steel placed over a roaring fire. The oysters are covered with a burlap sack, which is hosed down; the oysters steam underneath. The oysters are ready when they pop open; the cooks have the responsibility of shoveling the oysters from the fire to the table, which is usually wooden, at least waist-high and unadorned.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!
The host and cook behind these bad boys was my friend Kyle Byrd. He grilled these oysters on the half shell with garlic butter, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, fresh herbs and hot sauce on the Big Green Egg. Some Kinda Good, what you talkin’ ’bout!
During the party, we also ate steamed oysters. My favorite way to eat them was with a dab of cocktail sauce on a Saltine cracker. Take a look at how Kyle and my good lookin’ date (two good ol’ Georgia boys) prepared them in this 15 second Instagram video:
And now, for seven pearls of wisdom I came across while researching oysters:
1. Nearly two billion pounds of these mollusks are eaten every year.
2. The saying “The World is Your Oyster” comes from Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor: “The world’s mine oyster. Which I with sword will open.”
3. Eating four to six oysters a day provides a complete daily supply of copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. Oysters are one of the most nutritionally well-balanced of foods, containing protein, carbohydrates and lipids. The National Heart and Lung Institute suggest oysters as an ideal food for inclusion in low-cholesterol diets and an excellent source of vitamins.
4. Norwegian Rune Naeri set the Guinness World Record for the most oysters eaten in 2003: He devoured 187 in three minutes.
5. The largest oysters can grow up to three feet long in shell length.
6. Depending on the location of their cultivation, there are significant differences in the flavor profiles in the oyster. East Coast oysters tend to be more briny while West Coast oysters tend to be sweeter.
7. Almost all oysters can secrete pearls, but not all are valuable. The pearl oysters come from a different family than edible oysters.
What fun facts would you add to my list?