STORY BY IRENE REVELAS
PHOTOS BY DIANA ZALUCKY
From cobia crudo to fried frog legs to the perfect fried grouper sandwich, Good Catch: Recipes & Stories Celebrating the Best of Florida’s Waters showcases the bounty of the watery Sunshine State. Th is new cookbook, which debuts in October 2014, is a companion to award-winning Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida’s Farmers, Chefs, and Artisans, published by University Press of Florida and authored by Edible Orlando editors Katie Farmand and Pam Brandon, and Orlando Sentinel food editor Heather McPherson.
Farmand, Brandon and McPherson travelled the back roads of Florida through wetlands and hammocks to eat onion rings and fried mullet at rustic fi sh camps, slurp oysters in Apalachicola, and dig into steamed spiny lobster in the Florida Keys. In Miami, they met weathered Cuban fi shermen on a dock where time stands still, and on the Gulf Coast, they marveled at quahogs no bigger than the head of a pin in the palm of a clam farmer’s hand.
Florida is surrounded by water on three sides with an inland maze of lakes, rivers, streams, and springs, and these waters are alive with astounding abundance. By championing local fi shermen, you are supporting a way of life that has survived for generations in little towns such as Tarpon Springs, Cortez, Aripeka, and Fernandina Beach.
Because so much of Florida seafood is abundant only at certain times of the year, the book is organized by the seasons.
Recipes include everything from bottarga to conch fritters, oyster shooters to grilled octopus. Cocktails, sides and sweets create a perfect Florida meal.
THE FREEZER TIKI BAR, HOMOSASSA
The Homosassa River has always been the lifeblood of Homosassa. Herons gracefully glide from shore to shore. Cormorants pop their long necks out of the water, sometimes with a small fish speared in their beaks. Around one bend of the Otter Creek tributary, modern boaters find a snapshot of old Florida.
Set back in a small harbor is the Freezer Tiki Bar at Cedar Key Fish House. The old warehouse is where commercial fishermen brought their boats laden with crabs, fish, and shrimp. Guests arriving by car walk up a ramp to what once was the loading dock for trucks. To the left, the long, heavy plastic flaps that once protected the freezer entrance now cover the entryway to the Freezer Tiki Bar.
The Cedar Key Fish House is still a working wharf, but on weekends and at the height of scalloping season, the place is slammed with boaters, bikers, locals, and visitors seeking top-notch clam chowder, smoked mullet dip, spiced shrimp, and crabs, with ice cold beer to wash it all down. The service is as laid back as the surroundings, and menus are on large chalkboards throughout the room. Order at the counter to the side of the bar (cash only), grab a seat, and wait until they yell your name.
5590 S. Boulevard Dr., Homosassa, FL 34448
KEYS FISHERIES, MARATHON
It was the late 1960s when Gary Graves headed from chilly Wisconsin to the Florida Keys to scuba dive. The 20-something loved the slow-paced life enough to stay and found a job at the newly opened Keys Fisheries in Marathon. Today he runs the multimillion-dollar operation, which is the largest processor of spiny lobster in the Florida Keys, with 26 fi shermen bringing their daily catch during the annual lobster season from August through March.
Keys Fisheries operates a bayside restaurant that serves the bounty brought in year-round, including lobsters, stone crabs, golden crabs, and all sorts of fi sh. But the best seller by far is the lobster Reuben. This recipe, says Graves, was inspired by a version created at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami—whose owners also own Keys Fisheries.
3502 Louisa St., Marathon, FL 33050
305.743-4353 | keysfisheries.com
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