Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

April 28, 2013

Virginia is for Lovers of Crab

Best Corn Muffins
The spring week we decided to go to Norfolk and Virginia Beach was really bright and sunny, but also really cold with a stiff ocean breeze.  It has been a while since I have been in Virginia Beach, and I really enjoyed it this time around more than the last.  Last time, I was just out of college, didn't have a lot of money, and was trying to do Virginia Beach on a $0 budget.  This time around, I have some extra money, and actually ate at real restaurants with real good seafood.

Best Lump Crab
We went to Croakers in Virginia Beach for dinner.  It is averagely price for me right now, but when I was fresh out of undergrad, I probably wouldn't go here because it cost to much.  It is so much better to be me now with respect to dining out and having disposable income for a nice dinner.  Croakers was probably the best dinner we had in Virginia Beach.  We got popcorn shrimp, raw oysters, she crab soup, shrimp salad, baked crab, and the fish special.  Dinner came with a potato, side salad and corn muffin.  Those who know me well enough, know I don't like corn muffins, hushpuppies, nor most any corn bread.  I was quite surprised and taken aback by how good the corn muffins are at Croakers.  The muffin is slightly sweet, moist and corny, everything you want in a muffin.  The muffin was so good, I asked for a second one.  This is how good these corn muffins are, I asked for a second one.  The popcorn shrimp was terrific with a very light breading on the outside, and and big pieces of shrimp on the inside.  We also liked the house made salad dressing quite a bit.  The waiter said that the dressing is a Lebanese olive oil, citrus and mint salad dressing, with a toucho of garlic.  This salad dressing is some of the best salad dressing I have ever had.  Oh, and my entree I opted for was a simple baked crab meat dish lightly sprinkled with Old Bay and parsley.  The crab was fresh, sweet, and perfect.  I would go eat this again and again and again if I lived there.  I would be there every week.  I would be a regular for sure.

Croakers on Urbanspoon

April 14, 2013

The State of Oysters

The Perfect Oyster Bite

I am so honored to be invited to "The" Annual Oyster Party which has been going on for decades.  It is great fun for me because many of the guests are interested in food, are CSA members, and are interested in great tasting ingredients and food.  As I chatted with various people, the topic came around to the humble oyster.  This party gets boxes and boxes of oysters from Apalachicola.  This year, the oysters taste different, were way saltier, and smaller than Apalachicola oysters from years pasts.  Where they oysters live is an area that is on the freshwater and seawater line, where the water is brackish.  The seawater is coming further up into the bay providing more salt to the oyster beds, thus the oysters are saltier in flavor because they are living in saltier water.  The Apalachicola River is not supplying as much water to the bay, so there a lower volume of fresh water to feed the oyster beds as years gone by.  The Apalachicola River feeds water to Georgia, and Georgia has been in a state of drought for years, and Georgia has been in a state of population growth, so there is more demand for fresh water up stream from Apalachicola.  The result is that the Apalachicola oysters are not reproducing for some reason.  It is possible because the salinity is too high, the temperture is too low, but it is because the environment has changed and the environment is not right to reproduce.  Also the BP oil spill dispersants have been detected in Apalachicola Bay.  It is possible that the chemical change in water may be inhibiting reproduction.

This may be one of the last oyster parties I get invited to, so I really tried to enjoy myself.

April 7, 2013

charcuterie and cheese
 There is a lot of desert in Arizona.  Desert.  Wide expanse of sand, scrub, dry air, rock and desert.  While I wondered the desert for days with a 20 lb pack on my back, I could not seem to drink enough water.  I was always on the edge of thirst.  Living in Nashville, it is fairly humid all year long, which I am used to now, so it is a double whammy for me to go to the desert where it is dry as a bone.  The funny part about being used to Nashville humidity is that when I first moved to Nashville from a very dry climate, I thought it was like walking in a bathtub.  The air is so humid that I found it hard to breathe here, it was like breathing bath water.  Coming out of the high desert in Arizona and back down to the flat lands in Tucson made me happy, less freaked out and close to a good water supply.

The high desert freaked me out, it was not at all relaxing.  Elevation, dry air, heat in the day, the freeze at night, all were a challenge.  I respect those Native Americans who came before us and called the high desert home because they had to be hearty stock.  I am not hearty stock like that.  I am a low lands city gal who likes all the modern conveniences of life.

It was wonderful to descend into Tucson, with lots of civilization, water, restaurants and hotels.  We decided to give Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink a try to satisfy our hunger and thirst that was generated in the high desert.

kale salad
We walked in and instantly we liked the place.  I felt a great vibe, saw repurposed building parts from yester-year, and a brick oven for pizza.  There is a daily specials board including what charcuterie and cheese are up for the chef's cheese board.  There is a nice list of drinks to quench thirst.  The menu looked great with pizzas, entrees and salads with a nod to Italy.  We also noticed the bones of the building which was a funeral home for four scores prior.  We obviously were seated in the sanctuary area of the funeral home.  The vaulted ceilings are beautiful.  We think that the chef's bar was the viewing happened.  We did not sit there.  The staff is hip and young, but I would not call the staff hipsters.  It was an inviting place for me.  It was a nice place to take in a repast and relax after days in the desert.


We opted for one item from every category.  We got a cheese and house made charcuterie.  I loved it.  There were some stinky ripe cheeses that I cannot get in Nashville, and the meats were quite lovely.  I also loved the house made pizza crust crackers to co with the cheese and and meats.  I love the thin and crunchiness of the crackers, the fresh snap in the mouth with the softness of the cheeses.  This was really a delicious beginning of our meal.  We followed up with a kale salad.  The salad was something that tasted so good, and I wish I could figure out how to make it.  The kale was young and sweet, the croutons were crispy polenta, and the salad dressing was a house made citrus.  It was wonderful to have kale and citrus, ingredients I was missing this year.  I did not do a winter CSA with weekly kale, so I miss my having kale every week for 12 weeks.
short rib stew
For dinner we opted for a brick oven pizza and braised short ribs served with pasta.  Both plates we enjoyed quite a bit.  Both pizza and pasta were made with care, no short cuts.  The pasta was freshly made for the evening, as well as the pizza dough.  Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink was truly a treat for me after a long week in the desert.