Tag Archives: Southern Cuisine

The Floridian Brings Fresh New Ideas to Old Town St. Augustine, Florida

16 Apr

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On our return trip from Palm Beach, we decided to take an alternate eastern route and spend the night in the historic city of St. Augustine. It had been decades since my last visit, so it all seemed new again to me. St. Augustine remains a striking town with equal parts Savannah, Mobile, and Charleston. Southern, check. Close to the water, check. Chock full of history and stunning architecture, check. What perhaps sets it apart a bit is the distinctive Floridian vibe. Palm trees and Spanish tile everywhere. And that, my friends, is where The Floridian comes in.

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The Floridian’s delivery bike — spic and span and ready for action

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The hours are kind of complicated — the concept is not

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Classic Old Florida kitsch can be viewed & enjoyed throughout

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They do tasty sweets here too — this one nutty and delicious

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This Gator painting was lurking over my shoulder all evening long

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Great, fresh menu — I opted for the unique Florida Sunshine Salad

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Drinks are served up in an old-fashioned yet timeless Ball Mason jar

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The Dining Room is a combo of soft pastels and fish camp ambiance

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The bar is cool – and diners must visit if you choose to imbibe

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The Floridian’s thrift store sensibility is charming, for sure

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Few details are overlooked here. Even the floor looks terrific!

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 I started my meal by ordering the Grit Cakes. This take was especially unique thanks to the inclusion of a spicy chili-cumin aioli and a seasonal salsa highlighted by small cubes of roasted sweet potato. A Wainwright Cheddar is also employed, giving the appetizer a true diversity of flavors and textures. There was a lot going on here, but it all managed to work just fine.

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My son’s po-boy with fresh Pork Sausage and Fried Green Tomatoes

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Behold (above) the Florida Sunshine Salad. It is a feast for the eyes and the belly. Look at those vibrant colors! Look at those plump Florida shrimp! Look at those BEETS!!! Hey, how often do diners actually get fired up about beets? Not very often, I can tell ya that. But you know what? They are the star of the show in this daring dish. If your only experience with beets involved a glass jar, I strongly suggest you reintroduce yourself to fresh beets. There is a BIG difference. Great texture with natural flavor that is often diminished during the normal pickling process. Fresh Plant City (FL) strawberries are also invited to the party, as are large chunks of blue cheese from Thomasville, Georgia’s Sweet Grass Dairy.

The inventive cuisine served at The Floridian is Southern-inspired … to a degree. More importantly, they are using farm fresh ingredients that spotlight the best natural bounty that the Sunshine State has to offer. The atmosphere is winning and the staff hip and helpful. If you’re looking for touristy, this ain’t your place.  

It’s not exactly vegan, but it’s close.

And it’s a smart choice for those ready to take a step beyond fried seafood.

So come tour The Floridian — where fresh flavors coming shining through.

Consider it a vacation for your palate.

The Floridian – 39 Cordova Street, St. Augustine, FL

(904) 829-0655; www.thefloridianstaug.com

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Secrets from the Hot & Hot Fish Club

23 Dec

Terrific cookbook from Running Press featuring sophisticated Southern recipes. Also includes a pretty nice source guide in the back pages. Be sure to visit this wonderful restaurant the next time you’re in the Birmingham, AL area.

From Publishers Weekly

Husband-and-wife team Chris and Idie showcase the best offerings of their Birmingham, Ala.–based restaurant, the Hot and Hot Fish Club. More than a cookbook, this is a personal tribute to seasonal offerings and the hardworking, dedicated purveyors who supply the restaurant with the freshest ingredients. The authors focus on honest, unassuming dishes with a Southern flair that highlight rather than bury the natural flavors of the ingredients. Organized by month and availability, recipes include rabbit tamales with black bean salsa, the unusual hot and hot tomato salad, which is topped by a crispy bacon strip, seared foie gras with brioche bread and wild persimmon jam, and pomegranate sorbet. Their dishes are not unfamiliar yet are distinctive, such as their devil’s food cake, which includes grated red beets. Dispersed throughout are sidebars on cleaning soft-shell crabs, roasting whole pigs and wading for watercress along with family stories that convey the Hastings passion for and connection with food. They include a useful section on basic recipes, including not only the standard stocks, sauces and vinaigrettes, but also crème fraîche, risotto and hush puppies.

SHRIMP AND CORN FRITTERS with Chive Aïoli

SEAFOOD FRITTERS WERE ALWAYS SERVED AT THE BEACH WHEN CHRIS WAS A CHILD. FRITTERS HAVE LONG BEEN AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE SOUTHERN DIET AND HE GREW UP EATING THEM FOR LUNCH ALONG WITH SLICED TOMATOES AND SUCCOTASH. HIS GRANDMOTHER LOVED TO SERVE THEM WITH A DOLLOP OF HOMEMADE MAYONNAISE. TODAY WE SERVE THESE FRITTERS AS HORS D’OEUVRES FOR COCKTAIL RECEPTIONS OR SNACKS AT THE BEACH WITH CHIVE AÏOLI INSTEAD OF THE MAYONNAISE. FOR A DIFFERENT TWIST, TRY SUBSTITUTING FRESH CLAMS OR LUMP CRABMEAT FOR THE SHRIMP.

 Y I E L D :  A B O U T 5 0 F R I T T E R S

 1 POUND FRESH, PEELED MEDIUM (25 TO 30 COUNT)

SHRIMP, DEVEINED AND CUT INTO 1/2INCH PIECES

1 ½ CUPS FRESH CORN KERNELS, ABOUT 2 EARS

½ CUP FINELY DICED RED BELL PEPPER

½ CUP FINELY DICED YELLOW BELL PEPPER

½ CUP FINELY DICED POBLANO PEPPER

¾ CUP CHOPPED GREEN ONIONS (GREEN PART ONLY)

1 ½ TEASPOONS KOSHER SALT

¾ TEASPOON FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER

¼ TEASPOON CAYENNE PEPPER

½ CUP ALLPURPOSE FLOUR

1 TEASPOON BAKING POWDER

2 QUARTS PEANUT OIL, FOR FRYING

3 LARGE EGG WHITES

1 CUP CHIVE AÏOLI, FOR SERVING

Combine the diced shrimp, corn, peppers, and green onions in a large bowl; cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Once chilled, season the shrimp mixture with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, stirring until well seasoned. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the shrimp and vegetables and toss until the vegetables and shrimp are well coated with the flour. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour the oil into a deep-sided skillet to a depth of 3 inches. (Alternately, a deep fryer can be filled with peanut oil.) Preheat the oil to 350°F.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form. Gently fold one-third of the whipped egg whites into the shrimp and vegetable mixture. Repeat with the remaining egg whites, making sure the egg whites are incorporated before adding the next third. (At this point, the fritter batter can be used immediately or chilled for up to 2 hours before serving.)

 Carefully drop rounded tablespoon-size scoops of the fritter batter into the preheated oil and fry for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the fritters with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel–lined plate. Season the fritters with additional salt, if needed. Serve the fritters in towel–lined baskets or on platters alongside a small bowl of chive aïoli.

www.hotandhotfishclub.com