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Vol. 14 No. 44 - August 27, 2014

FEATURE

An array of dining options on the Island

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Bouillabaisse features a variety of seafood.

submitted

 

In light of all the negative changes that have taken place on our Island paradise the past decade, overcrowding, over construction, tax  hikes and so on, I would like to shed some light on the change I feel has benefited all of us, especially the foodies: the evolution of our local food culture.

Few small towns in America boast as many great restaurants and the great variety we have at our fingertips. Currently, there are more than 60 restaurants for AMI alone.

For most of my early childhood this was not the case. The Island had a few large restaurants, all offering relatively the same cuisines. The patrons of today have a plethora of dining options ranging from international cuisines like sushi or German to modern American Continental cuisine or seafood restaurants with the freshest local fish and shellfish available. And let's be honest - who doesn't crave a giant pork knuckle with a pint of ale now and then?

Many of our local dining treasures offer breathtaking views of the shining Gulf waters where we can dine al fresco, rubbing elbows with patrons from around the world as we sample a great bottle of wine or sip on a fancy umbrella drink.

There are even a few great restaurants that have managed to garner national acclaim. As for the early birds among us, there are many great breakfast restaurants offering everything from the Southern favorite biscuits and gravy to mouth watering stuffed French toast.

As the Island continues to gain popularity and nationwide recognition, new restaurants are opening all the time.

In closing, with all of the fantastic dining options available, go enjoy an evening out. Whether an anniversary, birthday, first date or just a dinner with family and friends, plenty of great meals await you.

For the next night you decide to cook at home I've included one of my favorite recipes to prepare.

Bouillabaisse

(serves 4) by CHRISTOFER DALE

Ingredients

2 c. seafood stock
1 bulb fennel  
1 leek    
pinch saffron     
1 1/2 lb. fish of choice   
1/2 lb. crab or lobster meat  
1 lb. shrimp
1 lb. scallops
12 clams
12 mussels

Method

Combine seafood stock and saffron, julienne fennel bulb and leeks (white portion only) and combine. Place stock, fennel and leeks in a large pot and bring them to a low simmer. Add the fish and clams and steam for 2 minutes.

Lastly add the remaining items and steam for 3 to 4 additional minutes until shrimp are translucent. Divide ingredients evenly into bowls and serve immediately.

Rouille

Rouille is a sauce consisting of olive oil, chili peppers, garlic and sometimes saffron that is traditionally served with seafood soups. I recommend the extra effort as it greatly enhances the dish. A quick recipe that saves time is

Ingredients

2 tbs. mayonnaise
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch garlic

Method:

Mix thoroughly and spread on toasted French bread place the toast atop your bouillabaisse before service.


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