Mermaid features Gulf Coast regional food
ANNA MARIA – For a delightful and delicious culinary journey around the Gulf Coast, try visiting the Sign of the Mermaid on Wednesdays.
Chefs Andrea and Ed Spring are offering Gulf Coast regional dinners every Wednesday for the next four weeks. On Jan. 19, you can sample the cuisine of Key West, on Jan. 26 travel to the deep south low country, on Feb. 2 kick up your heels with Texas coastal and on Feb. 9 New Orleans beckons.
"I started traveling for the raisin board and went to a lot of places – San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Las Angeles, Andrea explained. "I got to tune in to what's going on in the food scene.
"Here, we get buried in our own little world, and it's hard to keep up with things. We watch food shows on television and read the magazines, but it's not like being there."
Last spring, Andrea won the Crisco American Pie Council National Pie Championship with her chocolate raisin walnut pie. That led to her becoming a representative for the California Raisin Marketing Board and the trips across the country.
"The marketing board takes you to all the best restaurants, and they're all geared to local produce, meats, dairy products," Andrea continued. "I was inspired to come do it here.
"We wanted to pay attention to what we could get locally and make it good out of what it is. It's world's above what we were getting with a food service."
Andrea said they decided to feature the cuisine of the Gulf Coast, and the first dinner, served last week, was New Orleans style, which will be repeated in February. It included crabmeat St. Francis, sweet and sour cucumber pecan salad, a blackened filet and a giant scallop with Commander's Palace smashed potatoes and bread pudding baked Alaska.
"In New Orleans they have very solid food traditions and a certain way of doing things," Andrea said. "They take the time to create deep intense flavors."
This week's Key West dinner will include some of the many influences on the island including Southern, Caribbean and Florida. The menu includes sweet rum shrimp appetizer, spicy crab cake with papaya slaw, snapper Rangoon with orange molasses glazed pork tenderloin and key lime ambrosia tart.
The low country dinner will center on Alabama and Georgia with foods such as shrimp and grits and seafood boils.
"With the Texas coastal dinner we'll bring in Tex-Mex flavors combined with Gulf Coast seafood," Andrea explained. "We have two cooks, Olga and Nubia, who are from Mexico and have introduced me to wonderful foods.
"They make everything by hand – tortillas, dumplings – people don't do that any more. It should be different and fun."
Dinners are $39 per person and each includes an appetizer, a salad or soup, an entrée and a dessert. Reservations are recommended by calling 778-9399.
Sign of the Mermaid
9707 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, 941-778-9399
Breakfast and lunch:
Wednesday through Sunday,
7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.