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Sep 10, 200912:00 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Dauphin Island

Skinner's Seafood in Dauphin Island, Ala., steams their fresh-caught shrimp in a seasoning mix redolent of Old Bay.

Photo courtesy of Jay Forman

This Labor Day I spent the weekend with friends at their beach house on Dauphin Island in Alabama. On the menu were smoked ribs, seafood gumbo, boiled crabs and some excellent pimento cheese spread courtesy of our hostess Amanda. Their house is flanked by a bird sanctuary and fronts the beach, a location that easily captures a laid-back vibe. The scene was completed by views from the deck, from where we could see the white gallon jugs tethered to our crab traps bobbing in the surf.

It was a totally food-centric weekend, reinforced by rainy weather that redirected our energies into the kitchen. The rain didn’t keep us from setting our crab traps, but it did keep us from fishing, as my friend Teddy pointed out it would not be a good idea to be waving an 8-foot surf rod around in a thunderstorm.

Our seafood menu was buttressed with trips to nearby Skinner’s Seafood, a family-owned and -operated seafood store that sells the catch from their shrimp boat, augmented by line-caught finfish such as grouper, redfish and flounder. A bonus of Skinner’s is that they will steam your shrimp to order in a seasoning mix redolent of Old Bay, which makes for a breezy change of pace from the default Zatarain’s-style crab boil. We bought a few pounds of their most gigantic shrimp, had them steamed and served them back at the house alongside the blue crabs we caught in our traps. We rationalized the jumbos by saying the fewer of those we had to peel, the more energy we could direct to cracking down the blues, which takes considerably more effort.

On the way out of town, we stopped again at Skinner’s, where they packed our mini-Igloo full of ice and fresh redfish filets. Back in New Orleans, I blackened the redfish and finished it in the oven with some Marquis Butter. I got the recipe from Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, though I rounded out the compound butter with sherry in lieu of white wine and added fresh tarragon, thyme and oregano from our garden. All in all, it was the perfect post-beach meal to taper off from a weekend of eating and relaxing.

Skinner’s Seafood
1012 Bienville Blvd.
Dauphin Island, AL 36528

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene


Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.




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