Sunday, August 8, 2010


When the fine folks at Anna Ree's Andouille posted these photos on their Facebook page, announcing they were ready to serve up dishes at their restaurant featuring fresh veggies from their own garden out back, I couldn't wait to taste what they had in store.

My friend Cindie called Friday night to rave about the fried green tomatoes she'd just eaten there and to ask if I wanted to meet her there for a late lunch on Saturday. The answer to her question, in my mind, did not require a yes or no response. Cutting to the chase, I asked, "What time?"

My cooking and dining preferences don't tend toward fried food. And truth be told, my previous, limited experience with fried green tomatoes had not, shall we say, left me lusting after them. But these particular fried green tomatoes from Andouille were amazing (even if my photos were not).
Tomatoes with full-on, fresh-from-the-garden flavor and tenderness. Encased in a light crispy batter. Perfect with the spicy dipping sauce Cindie calls "Cajun ranch," although I didn't sense much "ranch" about it (it's hiding behind the more salsa-looking sauce in the above photo).

This was one of those "now I get it" moments. I will no longer be reluctant to try fried green tomatoes, although any fried green tomatoes in my future will have to measure up to a very high bar and announce their presence with authority.

But there were more fresh-from-their-own-garden delights on Andouille's specials board. And we wanted to try all of them. Here's the cucumber salad I insisted on ordering, and was glad I did.
As simple - and flavorful - as it gets this time of year, especially when you have homegrown ingredients. Cucumbers, onions, some remarkably tasty grape tomatoes from Andouille's out-back garden. They added a few Kalamata olives and marinated the whole she-bang in their house vinaigrette (less vinegary than how I typically do this dish at home). But the freshness of the veggies absolutely sang on this plate.

And then there was the okra - Andouille's has a huge crop growing out back. I had never, in my midwestern upbringing, tasted okra until I lived in NYC. I was introduced to it by the mother of the woman I shared my first Manhattan apartment with, a friend of a friend from college, from Meridian, Mississippi. Every time I think of okra, I hear in my head the sound of said roommate's overbearing Jewish/Southern mother finally arriving after a harrowing cab ride, describing her frustration in trying to communicate to the driver (whose first language was likely not English). Meridian mama kept trying to explain in her deeply southern accent: "I wanna go to Sevety-Naunth Street. Sevety-Naunth Street." But when she finally got to our apartment, she came bearing pickled okra, and I've been a fan ever since.

Here are the garden-fresh fried okra Cindie and I ate yesterday at Andouille. A burst of freshness, and nothing remotely slimy (which some people associate with okra). We ate 'em like popcorn.

Life doesn't get much better here in the Ohio River Valley than when the heat and humidity finally break, and you can actually enjoy some outdoor time. Cindie and I hung out on her deck overlooking the river, catching up last night.

And this morning, we took Cindie's dog, Oscar Doodle, to play in the river. Plenty o' barge traffic. Plenty o' good times.

Hope all is well in your world and that summer wherever you are is treating you well,



Christo Gonzales said...

love I mean LOVE me some fried okra - it is my ALL time favorite - LOVE IT!

Big Shamu said...

Your heat and humidity may have broken but here in KC it was vicious today.

Fried Green Tomatoe - LOVE

Fried Okra - LOVE almost as much as Fried Green Tomatoes.

GrumpyGranny said...

OMG I miss "real" fried okra. Tried to grow it here once, it's hot enough but not long enough. Green tomatoes, I got. And we just picked about a DOZEN eggplant off ONE bush tonight. Send me recipes!!


Making Space said...

Oh YUM!!! I totally get that no need for a yes or no just a "What time?" response. Totally get it.

WaterDog said...

How nice for Oscar Doddle to be a world wide web doggie!

Buzz Kill said...

Well, I'm not real keen on green tomatoes, but red ones - that's the ticket. I've never had a good fried okra for exactly the reason you cited - too slimey. I'm guessing they were nver fresh enough. Keep cheking out the restaurants.

Sharon Rudd said...

Dog, I never knew how good fried okra could be until I had this batch.

Shamy, sorry to hear about your weather.

Granny, I'll see what I can come up with for you.

MS, glad you're with me :)

Waterdog, Oscar is definitely blog-worthy!

Buzz, I definitely think the freshness factor is key for non-slimey okra.

Ava said...

I discovered fried green tomatoes last summer from my garden. I tried it just to satisfy someone else ... and now I love them!!!!!

Joanne said...

I LOVE okra but have never had it fried...that needs to be fixed!

Karl said...

Good morning Eggy,

Those fried green tomatoes look tasty! I was at the farm the other day, picking tomatoes among other things. Now I'm wishing, I had picked some green ones.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm not much of a fan of fried foods either, however that's the ONLY way I will eat okra. We fry green tomatoes for breakfast, but we really "shallow fry" them and they are fantastic.

That's a lovely restaurant and using vegetables from their garden is a wonderful idea.