Tag Archives: Live Oaks

Sublime Catfish Tacos at Cortlandt’s

7 Aug

I’d heard the buzz about Cortlandt’s for several weeks, I guess. Cortlandt’s just sounds Southern, doesn’t it? I mean bow tie and seersucker Southern. Truman Capote and Harper Lee Southern. Cortlandt Inge is actually an Alabama native and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Now some folks are terribly impressed by the latter. But frankly, I am even more impressed by the former. A massive live oak (seen above) shades the 300 block of George Street in Historic Old Mobile. It’s been there a long, long time. I trust Cortlandt’s will stick around a while too.

Cortlandt’s is actually at the corner of Savannah & George Streets in “The Little Easy.” This is one of Mobile’s most scenic neighborhoods. The stately Oakleigh mansion is just around the corner. Think the Garden District of New Orleans — it has that kind of vibe.

The main entry to Cortlandt’s dining room is pictured above. This is obviously a former home that has been deftly converted into a fine dining establishment. Fine dining, yes. But outrageous pricing and snobby atmosphere, no! I was not serenaded by chamber music as I awaited my server. Nope, it was more like The Clash, Crowded House, and The Beatles. I really liked that.

Elegant white tablecloth dining doesn’t always come with high prices. Cortlandt’s is comfortable and cheery on the inside. The decor is certainly not overdone. Tasteful food and tasteful surroundings … what a concept!

The white paper lunch menu featured several tempting selections including Gulf Coast favorites such as Shrimp and Grits or Grits and Grillades. Both were priced at about $12, which I thought was quite fair. The Mississippi Catfish Tacos (above) are offered for lunch for less than $10. The tacos come with a small house salad (this day topped with a refreshing housemade tomato vinaigrette). My decision had been made.

The sweet pickled red onions are a very nice touch atop the Catfish Tacos. The tang of the onions offered a nice counterpoint to the lightly battered mudcat filets. I normally prefer my fish tacos to be grilled, yet Cortlandt’s impressed me with these not-greasy, perfectly cooked pieces of white,  flaky farm-raised fish.

Cream and Sugar (above) is another part of Cortlandt’s growing culinary empire. Located right next door to Cortlandt’s, Cream and Sugar specializes in sweets, fine coffees, teas, etc. I was thinking how lucky residents of this neighborhood truly are. To have both these places within strolling distance (people here in Mobile don’t walk, they stroll; too darn hot to walk!) was a blessing indeed.

I’d suggest you stroll on over to Cortlandt’s at your earliest possible opportunity. It is destined to become one of Old Mobile’s more civilized respites from the fast food world outside.   

www.cortlandts.com

Our First Visit to Bon Secour, Alabama

18 Apr

Scenic and sleepy Bon Secour, AL is just a short hour ride from our home in Fairhope. It’s an even shorter drive from Gulf Shores, which is a big tourist destination during the late Spring and Summer months. The signs you see above are typical of ones you will view as you cruise AL State Highway 10 to little Bon Secour (French for “Good Help”).

We spotted this beautiful little church along Hwy 10. I had to stop to take a picture, which was made more difficult by a gentleman on a riding mower who was circling the church at Talladega-like speeds.

Bon Secour has a rich history. It was originally a French fishing village settlement dating back to the late 19th century. Currently it is a waterfront community that serves as a safe harbor to a current commercial fishing fleet. Named by Jacques Cook, a French Canadian from Montreal, a member of Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville‘s colonizing expedition of 1699. He was a participant in the founding of Mobile in 1702.

Billy’s Seafood, along with Bon Secour Fisheries, pretty much make up the bulk of the Bon Secour economy. Some folks assume Billy’s is a restaurant, but it is not. It is strictly a fresh seafood market. However, that doesn’t stop some people from grabbing a pound or two of boiled crawfish and chowing down while sitting on the hood of their car or back of their boat.

Oysters are king in Bon Secour. Look at all the discarded shells!

This old shrimp boat has obviously seen its better days.

Entrance to Billy’s Seafood in Bon Secour.

Looks like a scene right out of the film “Forrest Gump.” Bon Secour is a very Southern gothic, picturesque place, with huge live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss, great blue herons, brown pelicans, ever present bottle-nosed dolphin pods and the potent smell of salty gulf waters everywhere.

Other than the relatively small, family owned, seafood processing plants, Bon Secour is primarily made up of many rural neighborhoods, most of which enjoy beautiful vistas of the Bon Secour River and Bon Secour Bay. Brown Pelicans are everywhere and locals often see aligators from time to time, plying the waters of the estuarial system from the head waters of the Bon Secour River to the bay. One can see baby bottle-nosed dolphins playing near the mouth of the river at any time.

This crate of blue crabs was being circled by a very wise cat.

No lie … they do have a great selection of water critters!

These Royal Red shrimp were massive — and cheap!

Religious messages are seen throughout the property.

Jesus does love you — and so do the fine folks at Billy’s.

The historic Swift/Coles home (1882) draws visitors to Bon Secour.

The light blue porch ceilings help to keep the wasps away.

http://www.swstir.com/color-smarts/article/the-whys-behind-the-blue-porch-ceiling/

Right out of a Tennessee Williams script, don’t ya think?