On a scale of one to ten, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is on the level of a seven when it comes to major disaster, according to Josh Cleveland of Lowcountry Shellfish. Cleveland, an Alabama boy, provided some insight into the spill and how it will effect the local seafood industry at Tuesday night's Nosh Mob event, hosted by Blu Restaurant at the Folly Beach Holiday Inn.
Basically, he says, the spill is going to effect the supply, which in turn will increase prices. It could also help out area shrimpers, who will find their product more in demand. Currently, the Gulf supplies the majority of the domestic shrimp market. And he said we could start seeing balls of tar wash up on our shores in June.
In a quick and insightful talk, Cleveland gave us plenty of tips to remember when it comes to shrimp. First, if you're gonna buy shrimp from someone with a cooler on the side of the road, make sure the heads are still on. That's the best indication that the shrimp are fresh from the water. No heads means there's no way to tell if it's a frozen or fresh product.
Another insight: grocery stores are selling the freshest product they can get their hands on, and most of the local product is coming from Georgia right now. The shrimp season kicked off a week ago, and the water temperatures are making it hard for the shrimpers to round up the critters. One boat netted a mere 26 pounds off South Carolina. Generally, in May shrimpers can expect to harvest 400,000-600,000 pounds. From June to August, the brown shrimp are spawning. But it's the white shrimp that prove to be the most prevalent in our waters (and on our menus) with millions of pound being caught throughout the fall.
Cleveland touted the S.C. truth-in-menu law, which requires restaurants to accurately depict what product they're selling to you. If they say it's local shrimp, it better be. But he also pointed out that shrimp don't have addresses, so they consider any shrimp from the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas to be local.
As Cleveland chatted with Nosh Mobbers, the bartenders mixed up a specialty cocktail called the Cucamanga, which had a blend of cucumber vodka, muddled raspberries, and lemonade. Afterwards, Chef Jonathan Hagins encouraged everybody to head downstairs to Blu Restaurant for a specially priced three-course shrimp dinner.
The first course was a Southwestern Shrimp Cappucino with sweet corn and a delightfully musty broth made from huitlacoche, a fungus that grows on young corn and is a delicacy in Mexican food much like truffles are in French cuisine.
A fresh and crisp citrus shrimp salad came next with grilled fennel and shaved asparagus drizzled with a preserved lemon vinaigrette.
At this point, dinner was rudely interrupted by a miraculous double rainbow that could be seen from the beaches to downtown. The dining room quickly emptied out as everyone jumped up to snap some shots of the sight.
After the excitement, we settled down to a hot little Le Creuset pot of shrimp gratin in tomato and herb sauce. It was almost like a little lasagna or something. At this point, everyone at our table was stuffed, except for one guy who insisted on ordering another entree. We blame it on his new kettle ball workout.
All in all, the latest Nosh Mob was a fun treat, and we hope to see you at the next one. If you haven't signed up for the Nosh Mob yet, click here for more information.