Noms: Apalachicola

We dined late last night due to my genial host having gotten lost on the drive from Apalachicola, Florida (where he and his paramour live, and where I’m staying) to Panama City, where my plane arrived. Plus the time zone line is between the airport and the lovely small Gulf town where I’m staying.

Apalachicola is known for fishing, shrimping, and especially its local oysters, so naturally I essayed a dozen of these bivalves at The Taproom of the Owl Cafe, a seafood and craft beer joint.  They were plump, sweet, and mild, and I downed a dozen before the main course: a soft-shell crab sandwich.

Dinner (a locally brewed milk stout accompanied the oysters):

Activities for the day: After a hearty local breakfast (venue yet to be determined), my two buddies and I will head for St. George Island, a 20-mile long barrier island composed of white sand—and a place where cryptic white mice have evolved. There we will launch a skiff which can be poled like a punt (the water is shallow). I won’t fish, but will observe my friends trying to catch speckled sea trout, sea mullet (“kingfish”) red drum (“redfish”), Spanish mackerel, and other diverse species.  No worries: all caught fish will be returned to the sea.


  1. jaxkayaker
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Are you giving a talk or meeting fans anywhere while visiting Florida?

  2. Yvonne Wilder
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Oh, my, that looks like home! Your photos make me want fresh seafood and a stroll on squeaky white sand. Both are difficult to accomodate here in Denver! Take a nice long whiff off the beach rosemary while you are at the beach!

  3. W.T. Effingham
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Excellent photos. I experienced a bit (synesthestic(?)) of the aroma while staring at the noms. Seafood envy perhaps.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Apparently it pays to get lost…

  5. John Dentinger
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Ask your friends to let you try to pole the boat–it’s fun! Also very hard to do, especially if there is any wind.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      And while you’re poling, you can sing
      “Good-bye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh
      Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
      My Yvonne, the sweetest one, me oh my oh
      Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

      Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file’ gumbo
      ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
      Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
      Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

  6. Simon Hayward
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I knew I should have ordered oysters last night! Well, I can’t change that now.

    As a philosophical question, is it better to catch and release, where the fish get tortured but survive, or to catch and eat, in which case the fish die but serve a function greater than entertainment?

    • Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that the fish don’t give it much thought, and just get back to their daily business after the brief interruption (and they get a little food out of it), whereas the humans seem to enjoy it. So on the whole, the world becomes a slightly happier place.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      I can not see the point of ‘fishing’.

      That is, I can quite see the point of dragging a net around or better, tossing a stick of dynamite in the pond and feeding on what floats to the surface, which is quick and effective and probably causes the fish less suffering than being dragged around on a hook for ages, but ‘recreational fishing’ seems to me a bit like fox-hunting – a huge amount of effort, time, expense and discomfort – not least on the part of the fish – to arrive at an uncertain result.

      (Cue in the old ‘the fox enjoys it’ argument…)


      • Posted April 14, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t fish as I don’t like it, but I had a great time watching porpoises herd fish, seeing pelicans and ospreys diving, watching redfish herd mullet to eat, and all kinds of wildlife.

        I’m not quite sure why someone would come onto this site, though, and pronounce that the activities that my friends in were dire and harmful. What were you hoping to accomplish? Make me feel bad? I was tagging along while others fished, and then people come over and chide me for participating in “fishing”.

        • David Coxill
          Posted April 15, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          You tell him Doc .

    • Liz
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

      Catch and eat, Simon. I’ve always thought this. Unless it’s an endangered species. This is something I have never understood. Catch and release. Since I was 19 or so and was fishing here and there. It’s not my thing but the fish I have caught in the last 17 years, I prepare and eat.

  7. dabertini
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I’ve never had soft-shell crab, but i think it means you can eat the shell. Looks spectacular. Must taste equally so.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      These are crabs that have just molted, so the shell is not calcified, and thus not “shell” as such. However, the consistency can vary a bit depending on how quickly they get cooked from very soft and nice if it’s quick to a bit chewier if they have been hanging around for a while. If you like shellfish generally you’ll enjoy them.

      • dabertini
        Posted April 14, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        Thanks. Hopefully I can try them one day.

        • Mark R.
          Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          I live in the Northwest and can only find them frozen, but they’re still really good. They’re not easy to find though; I usually find them at well-stocked Asian grocers.

  8. yazikus
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Looks delicious. I was pleasantly surprised to find a fishmonger set up outside my local market yesterday- got some fresh local oysters (well, almost local) and am newly inspired to gobble them up.

  9. notsecurelyanchored
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Soft-shell crab po’boy would be my choice for my final meal on earth. Preferably prepared by Mother’s in New Orleans.

    • Merilee
      Posted April 14, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Any kind of soft-shelled crab.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Dang, those photos set my mouth to watering. I’ma walk on over to the local raw bar here in Key West and order the exact same thing.

  11. Liz
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    There is a place I have had this “sampler” from three times in the last year or so. The East coast oysters are from Long Island and are generally bigger than the West coast oysters. There are raw clams and shrimp also. So good. It’s the raw bar sampler but the shrimp are cooked.

  12. David Campbell
    Posted April 14, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    The area around Apalachicola is also known for producing Tupelo honey. If you like honey it is worth a try. A lot of roadside stands sell it. Look for a slight greenish color. The taste is worth the extra cost and the stuff never crystallizes.

  13. Posted April 15, 2018 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    A satisfying replacement for Readers’ Wildlife Photos.

  14. Bob
    Posted April 15, 2018 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Damn! You have advertised one of the best-kept secrets about north Florida for those of us who live withing driving distance. St. George Island and the Owl Café in nearby Apalachicola. Across the street from the Owl Café is a microbrewery. Downstairs from the Owl is a wonderful beer bar too. Now the secret is out and one of the last un-tourist places in the world is ruined.

  15. Posted April 16, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I’ve never heard of Apalachicola; but I’ve heard of other “colas” in Florida (Pensacola?), not the least of which is “coca cola” 😉 What does it mean?

%d bloggers like this: