Tuesday, May 24, 2011

High on Low Country Cuisine

Last night, I took a stab at preparing a South Carolina - Georgia Low Country dinner for our German friends M & T, and for our neighbor friends P & L. The dishes were all ones that I had never prepared or tried. I was very happy with the results. In fact, I personally loved every dish. While not all of the dishes were strictly Low Country, those that were not were definitely southern. I found all of the recipes on the Internet.

M & T brought a beautiful orchid plant, which delighted my wife, and a bottle of Barolo, which delighted me. L & P brought a very nice champagne. We are blessed to have such wonderful friends. Thanks for the great gifts!

The evening's menu was:
1. Appetizers
- Spiced Pecans
- Shrimp Stuffed Celery
2. Salad
- Vidalia Onion Salad
3. Main Course
- St. Simon's Island Shrimp Bog
4. Side Dish
- Low Country Zucchini & Yellow Squash
5. Bread
- Honey Cornbread Muffins
6. Dessert
- Peach Cobbler
7. Wine
- Bortolotti Prosecco
- Fess Parker Riesling (for T, who prefers whites)
- Castello di Brolio 2003 Chianti Classico
- Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel 2004

The Spiced Pecan recipe was very simple, with only a few ingredients, primarily pecans, sugar, and cinnamon. I prepared it the previous evening. I obtained the recipe at
http://southernfood.about.com/od/nutsnacks/r/bl01101k.htm. I used only two cups of pecans rather than the 5 cups in the recipe because we had so much other food. The pecans disappeared.

The shrimp stuffed with celery included crushed pineapple, scallions, lemon juice, mayo, and tobasco sauce. It was very easy to prepare. I found the recipe at

The vidalia onion salad was from Savannah, Georgia. It was wonderful and easy to prepare. It included the onions, tomatoes, kernels of fresh corn basil, and a dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt. For those who don't know, vidalia onions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vidalia_onion)  are an unusually sweet type of onion first grown near Vidalia, Georgia. Cutting the kernels off the corn cobs was a bit of a pain, but worth the effort. I obtained the recipe at http://www.savannahbest.com/cooking/cooking.htm
While I found the dishes easy to prepare, they did take a bit of time due to all of the chopping involved and due to my inexperience.

I was happy with the wines. I did not try the Fess Parker, but T said it was good. For those who are old enough to remember, Fess Parker played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone on TV in the l960s. We visited his winery in California several years ago.

We've also visited Castello di Brolio and Tablas Creek.

The Shrimp Bog was great. It had a number of ingredients I love, including shrimp, bacon, rice, and tomatoes. The recipe I used was only slightly spicey, but that could be changed by upping the amount of cayenne or adding tobasco sauce. Can't wait for the leftovers tonight. The recipe is available at

The Low Country Zucchini and Yellow Squash was nice and also healthy, but not exciting. I could not find an exciting Low Country side dish that was easy enough for me to prepare and that did not include rice, which was already in the main dish. Otherwise, I might have prepared something like Hoppin" John or Low Country Red Rice, both of which sound delicious. The recipe for the zucchini and yellow squash is at

The Honey Cornbread Muffins were great and easy to make. The recipe is a 5-star recipe with 181 super reviews. It can be found at

The peach cobbler was delicious. We served it with vanilla ice cream. I was fortunate to find fresh and tasty Florida peaches at Publix. The recipe is at

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lynches Pub & Grub - Sarasota Irish

We had a very pleasant meal last night at Lynches Pub & Grub (http://www.lynchespub.com/) on St. Armands Circle, Sarasota. Since the evening temperatures were perfect, we sat at an outside table.

Linda had a Darren Clarke sandwich - a 7 oz New York strip steak with sauteed onions and cheddar (they spell it "chedder") on a fresh baguette with a side of fries for $17. She enjoyed it.

I had an Irish Stew with lamb, onions, celery, and potatoes with a baguette for dipping in the sauce for $15. It was very tasty. The sauce was soupy rather than thick like American stews. Perhaps that's the way it is supposed to be. Some on-line pictures of Irish stews show similar sauces.

Linda's drink was a disappointing gin & tonic for $6. She could taste no gin.

My drink was very nice. I had a bottle of Magner's Irish pear cider for $5.

The menu has a mix of sandwiches, main dishes, and salads. One section of the menu is entitled, "Real Irish," and has five items:
- Cork Cottage Pie
- Corned Beef & Cabbage
- Irish Stew
- Fish & Chips
- Smoked Irish Salmon.

The menu also has some breakfast items.

They serve a number of Irish, British, and American beers and ciders.

The service was fast, efficient, and friendly. A woman, whom I assume was one of the owners, was paying close attention to every aspect of customer service. A number of the customers appeared to be repeat customers.

There are 8 tables and a bar inside, and 5 tables outside. The restaurant does not do reservations, but does preferred seating if you call ahead.

The Lynches immigrated to the U.S. in 1972. From 1986 to 2003, they ran a restaurant called "Lynches Landing" on Longboat Key. As I recall, one of the reasons they closed the Longboat Key location was because of a dispute with Longboat Key town officials over the restaurant's outdoor sign. I think the town contended the sign was too close to the road. I remember that Lynches cut their sign in half as a less-than-subtle message to the town officials.

The restaurant is located at 19B Blvd of the Presidents North.
Phone 941-388-5550

Lynches is a member of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals association of independent local restaurants (http://www.freshoriginals.com/). We had purchased a half-price gift certificate during one of the association's occasional on-line sales.