Deep south food is something special. If you have never been to southern United States and inevitable fall in love of it´s food, you will never understand how powerful, deeply, wonderful, rich in flavor and diverse this cuisine is.
This piece of land inherited the spiciness and flavors of the Spaniards, the sausage heritage of the Germans, the deep-frying technique from Africans and the French exquisiteness and finesse. It´s impossible to unleash this strong mixture of culture, flavor and character that identifies this cuisine, unless you taste this lovely deep south Coastal Cuisine.
It´s a blessed kitchen for four reasons: because the high quality of it´s local sourced ingredients, straight fresh from the deep sea to the glistening dish; because the complexity of their flavors: You will never get tired of this mixture of saveurs and ocean treasures; because the dishes have a strong lovely “personality” and finally, because each ingredient, technique and preparation tastes like a piece of history.
This food is special for me. It reminds me of my second home, specially the spiciness of Conecuh sausage and the texture of good old southern Grits. And so it is. Since 1999 half of my heart beats in Mobile, Alabama with Leida and Stan, my host parents. By sheer luck and chance I ended up in the home of my second parents in Mobile.
Brunch at the 34th floor
Recently, I went back to Sweet Home Alabama with my husband and we had an amazing ‘culinary moment’ that we will never forget: Have an extraordinary brunch at the 34th floor of the Trustmark Building, downtown Mobile in the new landmark of the Coastal Cuisine: Dauphin´s.
The amazing skyline that welcomes us let us breathless: you will understand the feeling when you see it with your own eyes. Immediately I recognized the green roof and structure of the legendary Convention Center where I had my prom night; and had a view of the ship pilot boats that drag the large container ships from the open ocean through the bay to the 8th largest port of the US, Mobile.
The culinary moment begun when Steve Zucker, Executive Chef, his cooking and service brigades, set up an special table for us in the heart of the kitchen. Yes, we were at a table right inside the Chef Zucker’s kitchen! For the first time in my life, I had the pleasure to enjoy my meal surrounded by spices, herbs and sauces packed in vintage vessels, vibrating with it’s own southern kitchen soul.
Before we ate, I had the opportunity to talk with Chef Steve. He studied Culinary Studies in one of the countries food capitals: NOLA- New Orleans. From the very beginning, I realized that he carried the passion for cooking and some spicy salsa in his blood.
Steve affirms that this region of the south has the best seafood and grows the best vegetables and pecans. Also, considers that the appreciation for food around the Gulf Coast is really deep, it´s a big deal eating well. “Our flavors are a Little bit more complex, we use a lot of ingredients and slow cooking methods”. It´s a proof that Comfort Food really exists, especially when we talk about Creole and Cajun food.
The menu of Dauphin’ s is known as Coastal Cuisine, has a lot of Louisiana’s influence. Did you know that Mobile was the capital of Louisiana when this state was purchased from the Americans to the French? That’s why it´s local humble dishes have their own âme. Mobile also is the Original home of Mardi Gras and of Forest Gump!
The Holly Trinity and the Pope
In Dauphin´s menu you will find what is called “The Holly Trinity and the Pope”. Steve explained that The Holly Trinity is celery, bell pepper and onion. “The Pope is garlic, because the garlic color looks like the Pope’s hat, an influence of Catholicism in the area. That is our Mirepoix and we use it as the base of almost everything specially in the gumbo and sauces”.
Believe me: In Mobile you can find the best shrimp, the best oysters and soft shell crab ever!
Talking about the last one, they prepare this wonderful recipe: A corn bread dressing on the base, with a mix of Conecuh sausage and crab meat stuffed in the inside of a breading crab, with some collard greens on the top. Finished with oyster cream and paprika sauce. That’s one of the best examples of this Coastal Cuisine.
Let´s take a look of a little of this Babette´s Feast that we enjoyed for almost half a day:
This food experience went far beyond my culinary knowledge and expectations, not only because of chef`s Steve amazing understanding of local southern food, but also because of the kind and professional service.
Dewight, Our personal waiter, was an example of how remarkable a southern gentleman who loves his trade can be, when the action of serving others, becomes a passion and not just a job.
Dauphin’s: Many stars in the sky can measure this experience…