Here in Alabama, Mardi Gras is big deal.
That’s why the folks at the Vestavia Country Club decided to go all out for Fat Tuesday this year with Alabama Gulf Seafood Night, featuring live jazz music, festive decorations and—you guessed it—lots of fresh Gulf seafood straight from Alabama’s Coast.
“We are really trying to get focused this year on using more local and regional products,” said Michael Murray, director of food and beverage at the Vestavia Country Club. “I thought this would be a great opportunity. Ocean-to-table is becoming very popular.”
There were several food stations on display with different courses and selections, but Alabama Gulf Seafood was front and center.
Guy Lott, sales and support for the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission, was on hand to help cook the Gulf seafood feast, which included Oysters Rockefeller, BBQ Shrimp, Blackened Gulf Grouper with Crawfish Étouffée Sauce, Raw Oysters and Boiled Shrimp.
There were plenty of clean plates and full bellies throughout the dining hall—and even a few new converts.
“I have never liked oysters,” said Nita Cox of Vestavia, who has been a fan of most Gulf seafood her whole life. “But I tried [the Oysters Rockefeller], and it was very good. I’m thinking about going back and getting some more.”
Lott said she did come back a couple of times.
According to Murray, this is just the first of many planned dinners showcasing Alabama Gulf Seafood. Several ideas are on the table, including a Gulf shrimp boil this summer, and they plan to keep a fresh Alabama catch and other Gulf seafood on the menu every day.
“Fish from the Gulf has always been our biggest seller,” Murray said. “The product is fresher than what comes from other states.”
If you weren’t present for the Vestavia Country Club’s Mardi Gras festivities, though, you’re in luck.
Piggly Wiggly stores throughout Birmingham will be selling the very same ingredients used in the Oysters Rockefeller and BBQ Shrimp recipes, and Lott will be on hand Thursday afternoon at the Piggly Wiggly in Homewood and Friday afternoon at the Piggly Wiggly in River Run for oyster-shucking demos and Oysters Rockefeller cooking demos.
“I always love a chance to take some of the mystery out of cooking Alabama Gulf Seafood,” Lott said. “I find that people are often a little afraid to cook seafood at home. It is easy to prepare some of their favorite dishes. When you let fresh AGS be the star the rest is easy.”
Lott will be pulling all of the ingredients for the Oysters Rockefeller recipe—which won the Rockefeller division at last year’s Oyster Cook-Off—in order to make the search easier for customers, and Piggly Wiggly will be selling fresh Gulf oysters in their seafood case so that you won’t have to look far for the main ingredient.
Mardi Gras may have passed us by until next year, but fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood is available year round. And with the season of Lent now upon us, there’s even more reason to stock up on your favorite Gulf seafood or try a brand new dish.
Check out some of our delicious recipes, then visit the restaurants and retailers in your area for plenty of Alabama Gulf Seafood.
And always laissez la bon temps rouler.