Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pop Rock Shrimp

Lang's Marina Restaurant

307 West St. Marys Street

St. Marys, Georgia

Remember Pop Rocks—the tiny colorful candy nuggets that came in tightly sealed packets? You placed a few kernel-sized pieces on your tongue and they detonated in your mouth with a sizzling sound. I always thought the candy left a tingling sensation on my tongue.

Biting into a fried rock shrimp at Lang’s Seafood Restaurant in St. Marys, Georgia is very similar. The small shrimp are covered in a thin batter and briefly fried. They puff to the size of a cotton ball, but should not to be confused with popcorn shrimp.

The preparation results in a burst of lobster-like flavor. The pieces literally explode in your mouth and then, more or less, dissolve on the tongue. The texture is definitely not chewy; the taste mellows on the palate like fine wine. Dip them in a bit of cocktail sauce to add tang, but don’t overdo. These babies are scrumptious.

Rock shrimp (Sicyonia brevirostris) have a hard, spiny shell more like a lobster rather than typical shrimp. The shell is "hard as a rock," hence the term rock shrimp. I think they are the rock stars of the shellfish world. From now on I’ll follow the seasonal catch like paparazzi.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

How to tell if your produce is genetically modified

Know the Numbers

Cathy Ruff, my friend and former neighbor in New Jersey, sent me this helpful tip. She came across it in the Newsletter of the Garden Club of New Jersey, and for those who don’t know, New Jersey is known as The Garden State.

To determine if your produce was genetically modified, look at the numbers on the tags of the produce you buy. My carton of fresh raspberries has a sticker that reads 5137 and underneath 3969 DSA1. Therefore, I am assuming the berries were conventionally grown on a bush, but not on an organic farm.

• A four-digit number means the produce is conventionally grown.
• A five digit number beginning with 9 means organic
• A five digit number beginning with 8 means it is genetically modified (GM).

Now you know the clue to reading produce labels.

Thanks Cathy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Summer Sensation-- Lemongrass Mint Gin and Tonics

Tea Forte Cocktail Infusions

Summer’s here. “Time for a G and T,” I say.

My husband, Jay, makes a great Tanqueray and tonic. Like every mixologist, he starts with gin over ice and tops it off with tonic water. But then-- he squeezes a section of fresh lime into the cool liquid, letting the tart and tangy juice add some zip. After that, he runs the oozing fruit piece around the glass lip before plunking it into the cocktail. Swizzle a little and you’ve got an outstanding mixed drink.

Just recently I came across a new product which offered a twist on tradition and some experimental fun—Tea Forte cocktail infusers; a method to combine an extraordinary blend of tea with alcohol.

The product comes in a three-inch colorful pyramid shaped box. Each package contains a similar shaped tea bag, topped with a tiny signature leaf. Honestly, this is the most elegant tea bag I have ever seen. In fact, the packaging is so pretty, you want to put them on display.

Place the tea infuser in your hi-ball glass and pour two ounces of alcohol over, letting it brew or steep- as strong as you prefer. I let my mixture turn a golden amber color.

Next, add ice, a little simple syrup (mixture of water and dissolved sugar) and some tonic. Wish I’d had a spring of mint to garnish, but I used a lime instead.

Taste Test

On my first sip I noticed the tea flavor, an unusual but delicious citrusy ice tea taste. On the second sip, I picked up the mellowness of the gin, a fine, smooth blend producing a perfect summer refresher. And by the third sip, well… I was hooked on this refined make-over for an old favorite. Surprisingly delightful.

I removed my infuser before drinking, but the label suggests leaving it in for an intriguing conversation-starter garnish. How fun is that??

Jay said the tea bag would be way too fou-fou for men, but thought that guys might enjoy the tea-alcohol combination. For a true test, I need to make up a pitcher and serve them to guests around the pool. My guess is the icy concoction would be a hit.

According to Tea Forte’s literature, the infuser I used is a blend of lemongrass, spearmint and lemon myrtle. Alternative alcoholic beverage creations include Wild Mint Mojitos and a Bali Breeze.

The company also offers Lavender Citrus and Silkroad Chai blends. I’m going to try the Cosmo de Provence next because I’m headed to France. But really, do I need an excuse?
The Cosmo is made using an infuser with white tea, lavender, lemon balm and bergamot. When the tea bag is steeped in vodka, a dramatic violet color appears (watch for an upcoming post-- I will take photos.)

Cheers to happy hour. Turn a dull afternoon into something extraordinary. Cocktails with tea for me!

Check out the website: