Category Archives: Seafood

Creole Cajun Bistro

Creole Cajun Bistro

January 27, 2018

Organized by: Karna and Fred

Did you know that there is a difference between Cajun and Creole style dishes? Well I certainly learned that this evening. I am sure that many a southerner has an opinion on both styles but from what I learned, Creole is more tomato based and considered “city food” and Cajun is based more on a roux made with oil and flour and considered “country food”.

Creole Cajun Bistro is a small place tucked away in a strip mall in Chandler. The menu is filled with some recognizable Louisiana dishes like Boudin Balls, Po’Boys, Etouffee, Gumbo, and Shrimp and Grits.

We started with a smatering of snacks such as fried pickles, fried alligator, and fried green tomatoes. They were all tasty but made with the same batter so they started to all taste the same.

Karna and I shared the Etouffee with tilapia, but surprisingly the tilapia was fried which tasted a little like the appetizers. We also shared the fried chicken that was served with their signature swamp sauce. The swamp sauce was not too think but was slightly sweet and slightly spicy.

On a good note, I did learn about a new cocktail called a Sazerac. Not sure if it is true, but it has been called the official cocktail of New Orleans.  It starts with whisky or bourbon, which might be why I love it so much, then you add some sugar, absinthe, bitters, and lemon peel. This cocktail has some spine but with a slight sweetness. It reminds me of an Old Fashioned but yet a little different. This was definitely the highlight of the evening for me!

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Posted by on 01/27/2018 in Seafood, Southern


Attack of the Angry Crabs – January 2017

Angry Crab Shack

8253 E Guadalupe Road | Mesa, AZ | 85212

480-373-5855 |

Organized by: Fred and Karna – January 2017

What is an angry crab, you ask? Well the crab isn’t so angry, but the spices you can add to this seafood boil is what gives the restaurant its iconic name. It all started in a small shop in Mesa and has exploded into six locations around the Phoenix area, some of which also offer BBQ dish options.

The atmosphere is always very casual. I mean, you literally dig your food out of a bag with your hands while wearing a bib. So trust me, you cannot be underdressed. Patrons are also encouraged to leave their mark on the walls and the tablecloth is a piece of butcher paper to soak up all the cajun spices and butter that might seep out of the bag during your devour session.

Everything is flown in fresh daily and sold at market price so don’t be surprised if they run out of clams early. That is a fan favorite and Jenn can really get down in the dumps if she don’t get her clams. J Some of our group are regulars here and even call themselves the AC crew. But the crew isn’t for everyone because they like to go hot. I mean real hot. The kind of hot that makes your neck sweat and your insides cry. That doesn’t mean that you can’t join in, just don’t make the mistake like I did and grab a sausage or corn piece out of their bag…J

As a non-crustacean person, I was excited to try the BBQ options but that was a bit of a let down. We have so many BBQ options here in Phoenix so the bar is set kind of high and I don’t think AC makes it. The po’boys are okay but the bread is so…bready. Seems like a 3:1 ratio on bread vs. filling with every bite. I think I will keep to the chicken fingers and onion rings, gumbo, or coleslaw.

Beers are good and oysters are big, fresh, and cheaper than other seafood places. They have a variety of tasty cocktails that are served in mason jars and some local craft brews on tap. They do have wines available, but it’s not the best selection. I say skip the wines and go with the good beers or the great cocktails.

Whether you like a good boil bag or prefer to get one of the other menu items, make sure you come here with friends. Half of it is the food, but the other half is the fun experience with your peeps.

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Posted by on 01/21/2017 in Cajun, Seafood


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Low country noshing in Charleston

Low country noshing in Charleston

Being part of a dinner club has made us come to realize that food is not just a way to provide nutrition to your body or a social event, but it also provides a special kind of insight into the culture and history of an area. So for our trip this year of exploring south of the Mason/Dixon line, we decided to take our first ever walking culinary tour in Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston has been getting a lot of publicity for their foodie culture and number of award winning chefs and restaurants so it seemed like a perfect place to explore through food tastings. We met up with Glen from Charleston Culinary Tours at the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse. We arrived early to grab a drink at the bar before the walking tour and were worried that the torrential downpour outside from Tropical Storm Anna would cancel the tour, but we seemed to be the only people worried about the sideways rain and 30MPH winds. Such tourists! But with an umbrella and a determined spirit we decided we were still going for it. The heavens were smiling at us that day because the rain and wind stopped just before our tour and provided us with a cool and beautiful day to be out walking and exploring Charleston.

There are many towns and cities we have visited that claim to have the best of the local dish. Pizza in Chicago, cheesesteaks in Philly, BBQ in Nashville, clam chowder in San Francisco, and now shrimp and grits and she-crab soup in Charleston. Glen started us off at Southend Brewery and Chef Orlando Barrera with a cup of she-crab soup. The she-crab soup is iconic to Charleston ever since it was made for President Taft when visiting the mayor of Charleston and is reportedly served every year at the White House Correspondents Dinner. The creamy bisque or chowder like dish is made with blue crab meat, crab roe, with a dry sherry float. It was so flavorful and creamy and a great start to the tour! Southend also has Glen’s vote for best shrimp and grits. As a grit lover extraordinaire, I never knew that the best kind are made with heavy cream and butter and no water.  Where have I been?!? These grits were not the soupier kind I have had before but rather decadent, creamy, and popping with flavor! The shrimp was local with a roasted tomato and tasso ham gravy. Last but not least we had fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and chow chow. I have tried fried green tomatoes before but this was the first time I had tried pimento cheese. From what I can tell it is frequently served with fried green tomatoes but also used as a dip, on sandwiches, or even burgers. The spread is commonly made with cheese, mayo, onions, pimentos, and S&P. But with this foundation, I think there are many opportunities to kick it up a notch with lots of other ingredients. The chow chow is a slightly tangy vegetable relish, usually made with bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, beans, carrots, etc.

After Southend, we took a nice walk through downtown while Glen talked about the restaurant scene in Charleston. He said that there is about 1,003 restaurants in Charleston and he seemed to know every chef, every dish, and the history of every restaurant! He also described how because the real estate is so expensive, many restaurants are part of restaurant groups with investors to help cover the costs of the facilities.

Our next stop was at the newly opened Cumberland Street Smokehouse and Chef Kyle Yarbrough. Here we tried some great Low Country style BBQ. The meat was rubbed with a spice seasoning before smoking and not slathered in sauce. The BBQ is served with the rub and then sauce (usually a mustard and vinegar based) are added on if desired. Collard greens are a common BBQ side and I highly suggest adding the pepper vinegar on top! It really makes a flavor explosion in your mouth. 🙂 Also a must is the duck fat fries. Crispy, hot, and cooked in duck fat for a flavor that will surely send your taste buds to Shangri-la. The rest of the BBQ was cooked well, but seemed dry. I definitely opted to add the additional sauce on top.

Next we walked down the waterfront and learned about some Charleston history. Glen also explained the grey flags that we saw displayed on some homes for Support Shore Power. This is a local effort to require cruise vessels to use shore side power instead of running their engines when sitting at port. Those in support of this are hoping to cut down on pollution from the ships that goes into the pier and soot that travels into the historic downtown area. It seems like it is all about perspective. Glen said that many of the restaurants do not like the cruise ships because no one comes to shore to eat when all the meals are included on the ship. On the other hand, when we asked a city bus tour guide about the flags, he scoffed and said “those groups are always upset with someone. Before the ships, they hated the bus tours. It’s always something.” I guess it depends on what industry you support. 🙂

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Our next stop was at Pearlz Oyster Bar and Exec Chef Victoria Neikirk for some fish tacos. Not sure why we weren’t able to go inside but it could have been because the place was quite small and our tour group was a large group of 13. Instead the kitchen delivered the rolled fish tacos outside to us across the street. I am sure not everyone enjoyed that in the group but I love the idea of a good street food so it didn’t bother me at all. To me, it felt less formal and more local. The grilled Mahi taco was absolutely delicious! Rolled in a soft tortilla with cabbage, pico de gallo, and crema. It was fresh with a little bit of a spice. Pearlz is also a big supporter of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative which is a conservation program through the South Carolina Aquarium.

Last stop on the tour was Carmella’s Café and Dessert Bar. This place had beautiful and fresh décor with an open and vibrant feel. It is a fun atmosphere and great way to wind down after a foodie adventure. This place had an awesome mix of amazing desserts and coffee but with a full bar and creative cocktails. Our final dish of the tour was a chocolate mouse on a chocolate cake and was divine! (And I don’t like chocolate too much so that is saying a lot!) We also opted for the $5 special cocktails made for the tour. One was a fruity and refreshing orange slushy cocktail that tasted like an Orangesicle with manners and a hot chocolate coffee cocktail.

Now that the tour and we had some bearings in the city, Bill and I wanted to walk around and explore downtown as well as seeing their famous Rainbow Row. We asked Glen to give us some suggestions for places to stop in while we were down in that area and he sent us to Blind Tiger. “It looks like a real dive”, he warned us, “but walk all the way through to the patio in the back. They have the most amazing patio in Charleston.” Man was he right! We were stuffed from all the food on the tour so we were looking just to have a drink but I did try the white corn fritters. Eh. Their “Secret Sauce” seemed like a version of ranch and the fritters were served on some sad wilted lettuce. Clearly the selling point for this place is the patio atmosphere. The Blind Tiger has been many things during its long history including a speakeasy. These parlors called “blind tigers” were places where a person would pay an entrance fee to see the “blind tiger” and be served complimentary cocktails while waiting to see this tiger that would never show up. Pretty soon all patrons would stumble out blind. Today the patio is just overflowing with character and feels like a little oasis surrounded by crumbled courtyard walls in the middle of the city.

Our only regret with this tour is that you only have time to visit a few places and Charleston has so much to offer. Another big lesson is that many of the places are so popular and only open for dinner, that you need to make reservations well in advance! We certainly fell in love with this city during our brief few days and only feel like we scratched the surface of what this area has to offer. We most certainly will be going back because we have South Carolina on our minds.

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Posted by on 05/24/2015 in American, Seafood


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Aug 23 – One if by land, yum if by sea

High Tide Seafood Bar and Grill
2540 S Val Vista Dr Ste 101
Gilbert, AZ 85295
Organized by: Jenn

Finding a great seafood place in Phoenix is not an easy feat. We live in a landlocked state and in the middle of a desert with summer temperatures that can sometimes make an inferno jealous. So, it makes sense that finding a creative and tasty place with fresh seafood can be dicey. When we do find one, we dive in like a seagull on the hunt.

This month we visited High Tide in Gilbert and enjoyed a variety of delectable dishes. For starters, we ordered the calamari, which was breaded and served with an old bay lemon aioli; oysters on the half shell; and the sausage and cheese plate of “Pork Shop” Razz Cherry & Cracked Peppercorn Summer Sausage and aged sharp cheddar served with a beer mustard. The sausage had a nice sweet spice and the beer mustard was tasty. Yum! Although we didn’t order them, Fred and Pat also said they have tried the Beer Steamed Clams and said they were excellent.

For entrees, a few of us ordered the Louisiana Gumbo made in real steam pots that taste like you are being transported back to the Gulf. With the option of white or dirty rice, Andouille sausage, okra, and choice of seafood or chicken, the Louisiana gumbo is just bursting with flavor. Don enjoyed “The King” steam pot with two massive king crab legs, scallops, salmon, mushroom, and light saffron sauce. Janice appreciated the Grilled Skuna Bay Salmon that was so well done even Jen said she like it. Since Jen rarely ever likes salmon, that should be a big cheers for the Skuna Bay dish. Jen went land lover this time and ordered the Famous Buttermilk Fried Chicken. The chicken was crispy and delicious and drizzled with local honey for a soft sweetness. Jen even paired it with some of the tangy hot sauce and loved the kick. Fred also used his land legs and ordered the BBQ “Pork Wings” that had a sweet and tangy sauce and was quite tender. The green beans were fresh and flavorful and topped with a somewhat overly buttery garlic butter sauce. Last but not least, was the cheesy, creamy, juicy and divine three cheese Lobster Mac n’ Cheese. Topped with buttery breadcrumbs, this dish is rich and large so it is definitely a shareable treat.

We had a little room for dessert (and I mean only a smidge) so we tried some of the beignets. They were light and fluffy and topped with powdered sugar and a warm and delicate chocolate sauce.

Everything from the food, to the friends, to the fresh and artsy atmosphere was great so the final tally puts High Tide in the win column!

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Posted by on 08/23/2014 in Seafood


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