It was a beautiful Nov. 2 on Dauphin Island, and 150-plus people were in for an afternoon meal that would be the first of its kind. Sunday Supper Gulf Coast braved the odds and went off without a hitch right in the middle of the immaculately kept and historically significant Fort Gaines. Ten chefs with ties to the James Beard Foundation either as award winners or nominees battled a lack of amenities, a chilly wind, and an absence of televised football to produce a creative feast that reinforces their significance in the southeastern restaurant community.

It was an honor to serve as emcee of this amazing event, and I received a few chuckles from my wind-blown look and my pronunciation of Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Gobelsburger, but the coordinators still made sure I dined in style.

Each of the five courses came complete with wine pairings and two chefs per course got to do what they do best. Chef Chris Hastings, JBF Award Winner of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham served as chief cook and bottle washer. When he found out the fort’s original oven was still operational he knew he had to use it. The result was a dense crusty bread from which I could not steer clear.

Other memorable dishes included oysters and dumplings, whole snapper, by-catch boil in a bag, and a finish of cornmeal and buttermilk tres leches. Speaking of dishes, Earthborn Pottery provided some beautiful platters and bowls adding a homegrown touch of class to the meal.

If I read the menu in its entirety you would kick yourself for missing this event, but don’t get too upset. The South Mobile County Board of Tourism has ensured me that this is an inaugural event, so plan on next year to be even bigger. We will surely keep you posted.

Bay Bites brings food trucks together

If you’re grabbing this issue of Lagniappe the day it hits the stands, Cooper Riverside Park will be a parking lot of grub wagons for Mobile Baykeeper’s Bay Bites Food Truck Festival held Wednesday, Nov. 12, 5:30–8:30 p.m. It is billed as an evening of great food and cold beer with names you know in the Mobile food industry including Geaux Boy, Island Thyme, Los Tacos, Von’s, and Coco Bay. The $10 wristband includes beer, so thirst is not an issue. Live music will be provided by Roman Street and all proceeds will benefit Mobile Baykeeper. It’s a bit last-minute, but tickets will be sold at the door.

Regina’s Kitchen now serving brunch

Midtown’s favorite Regina’s Kitchen just gave you another reason to visit. The locally owned and operated joint at 2056 Government St. is now serving a brunch sure to please. I just received the menu and my mouth is watering. Appetizers of fried stuffed egg with creole sauce or shrimp remoulade get me going. Salads with goat cheese and apples, grits and grillades, crabmeat and shrimp quiche, salmon croquettes over hashbrowns, beer, wine, bourbon punch, I’m only scratching the surface. Order the four-course, pre-fix menu for the full experience. Lightweights will be thankful for the a la carte options.

The “House That Delicato Built” draws crowd and delivers.

Last week’s Italian Fisherman wine dinner closed out the season with a bang. Possibly the best one yet, I was impressed by the lobster cakes with slaw mix and Asian sauce, but favored the unlikely Chicken Piccata over buttered pasta with the oaky Handcraft Chardonnay.

The dry rub glazed baby back ribs were a crowd favorite with the Noble Vines No. 1 Red Blend and the evening was capped off with some stellar international cheeses (my favorite was a smoky onion) and fresh fruit with a 2012 Belle Ambiance Riesling.

Friends were made and groundwork was laid for future dinners of this nature. Many are eager for next season to get here. We will keep you posted of the next event.

And the Apple of the season is …

Last fall I was Golden Delicious crazy, and I wasn’t alone. You would see these beauties popping up in recipes from Southern Living to countless websites, and the slightly softer fruit found its way into my kitchen in skillet pies and cheese pairings. For this year’s trend in apples I am predicting the deserved Honeycrisp to be king of the orchard.

The Honeycrisp is almost a one-eighty from Golden Delicious, and the applications are varied. The firmer fruit and the sweetness of a SweeTART lend itself to dishes that lean toward the savory side of the palate. In my quest to find one apple and exhaust possibilities I have recently called upon the Honeycrisp for several endeavors.

One successful yet simple creation came from my love of pork and apples. My children love pork chops and store bought applesauce, so I came up with this easy recipe to satisfy my adult cravings.

Ingredients

2 Honeycrisp apples, cored and coarsely chopped
1 medium white onion coarsely chopped
1 stick of butter
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet. The onion and the apples should be chopped in about the same dimensions, but you should go as large or small as you wish. Sauté the onion until tender. Add the apples and salt. Cook over medium heat until the desired texture is achieved. Serve with pork.

Some may prefer a firmer sauce, others may wish for the apple to disintegrate. Don’t be afraid to add a pinch of ground clove or perhaps some rosemary. The bare bones result was simply marvelous with savory chops, but I can’t wait to serve this with a pork loin. Have fun with it and experiment. Now is the time for apples!

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