I posted earlier about my great good fortune in going to Apalachicola last weekend. The area is stunning, set along the northern Gulf Coast of Florida, just where the coastline takes a 90-degree turn and heads west and becomes part of Florida's Panhandle.
Apalachicola is where David Carrier and his wife, Ryanne (I will edit this post with quotes: I've got connections and will catch him on the phone soon), decided to settle after exploring the culinary world--including time at French Laundry in Yountville, CA. All I can say is lucky Apalachicola for having such wonderfully skilled people running Avenue Sea at the Gibson Inn AND lucky David and Ryanne for finding Apalachicola.
We got to Avenue Sea after a long day at the Florida Seafood Festival. I ate a lot of oysters shucked by some of the best shuckers anywhere. Some I ate with more finesse than others. I'll just say I hope the less finessed don't make the tape (I was taping for the VISITFLORIDA.com dining blog. Hi, Missy, Hi, Tim, Hi, Steve!)
But after we wrapped, I was sunkissed and windblown and tired. The restaurant happily changed our reservation to very early (we still had a half our to drive to our hotel stay at Port Inn)...Which worked--because those oysters I ate? That was ALL I ate during the day.
We decided for every course--appetizer of oysters (call me crazy) with cauliflower puree, curry jelly, citrus and a touch of pepper was irresistible. The puree was silken-I ate every oyster. I followed that with a risotto topped with scamorza cheese--and I finished with a grouper wrapped in bacon with ham jus...spectacular. Ian..hmm. He had rib eye as his third course. He had pork as his first..oh, I remember. Butternut squash soup as his starter. Perfect for the fall day we had enjoyed. And he put up with me making him wait for the first bite until I snapped a few photos.
One of the things that was so enjoyable was the pace of our meal. Granted we were super early, but still, the idea is to enjoy the time you have with your dinner companions, time to enjoy the flavors Carrier has put together with such care. Avenue Sea even quotes Ben Franklin on the menu--I believe this is the one: Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
It does us good to remember that. On a regular basis. Benjamin Franklin was brilliant, wasn't he? And he sure knew how to love life. This is Ian behind the lovely (everything was lovely) coffee set. He knows how to love life, too.Ryanne is responsible for desserts. I'll go on record as not being a regular fan of desserts. Too often they disappoint. I went for the Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart in chocolate crust with..well, with heaven. Is that too much? Really. First off, braVA to Ryanne for going with milk chocolate. I love bittersweet with the rest of the sophisticates, but milk chocolate is comfort. And this was pure comfort, a wonderful, warm way to end the meal.
Honestly? I can't wait to get back to Apalachicola to spend more time and see more of the town...and to eat more of the Carriers' food.