The Low Country Boil to benefit Blue Oven Kitchens was a unique eating experience. I have never been to a boil, but I am a natural – I love to eat with my hands! Also, the food is very similar to one of my all time very favorite meals, corned beef and cabbage – with potatoes, carrots and turnips, of course, all boiled together. I learned much later in life from the classic cook book, Joy of Cooking, that the traditional name for this meal is New England Boiled Dnner. So, actually, even though I'd never been to a low country boil, I've got low country soul. I love the taste of things that have been simmering together and the way butter and garlic adds to the magic.
Not only was the food cooked just the way I love it, it was served outside in the backyard of Alachua Conservation Trust's Prairie Creek Lodge with some acoustic music on an absolutely perfect spring evening. When I arrived with my companion, and Cinema Verde Director Trish Riley in her Cinema Verde t-shirt, Val Leitner was there to welcome us with her usual positive energy charm and bright eyes. She directed us to a table where we could pick up our complementary Swamphead beer glasses. From there, we turned and saw a long table covered with food and people heaping their plates with mussels and shrimp and an array of root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, radish. Sauce was provided via clarified garlic butter and various hot sauces. YUM. The beets were my favorite, but I was really impressed with the carrots as well. Carrots seem so ordinary and common, but these local carrots had a rich flavor. Truly it was ALL wonderful. And I ate it all with my hands. There was only one problem – I did want to cut up my potato. Fortunately, I had a mussel shell that was just perfect for the job. As it turned out, there was plastic ware available, but I'm proud to say I did not need it! My plate was loaded up when I started, and the only thing left when I was done was shrimp and mussel shells – and a pile of napkins.
For those of you who missed this special eating experience, hopefully you will get a chance next year. I'm already looking forward to it.