Friday, November 20, 2009

Going off road... and to the Gulf Coast

I realised yesterday that my sincere efforts to keep this a focused blog, a blog which would only deal with Romanian food and with nothing else, also made this an empty blog. A sad, abandoned, postless blog.

Which is a shame. Because I would love to write about other kinds of cooking experiments -- various curries, attempts at Middle Eastern dishes, my first Texas chili. And I would love to write about the strange and rich food culture of Dallas and Texas: the ethnic grocery stores, the plethora of food festivals, and the restaurants.

So I herewith abandon any pretention towards having a focused, thematic blog, and give myself permission to write about anything I like. And my very first candidate is the heavenly circle of a dozen oysters I consumed at S.&D. Oyster Company this evening. Unlike most places in Dallas, S.&.D. Oyster Co. looks like it's been around for more than five minutes. Opened in 1976, that makes it as venerable as the Ponte Vecchio when compared to its Uptown surroundings. The restaurant consists of one room, large and mostly unadorned, with a bar at one end. The yellow walls, black-and-white floor tiles, and slightly too-bright lights create a slightly clinical atmosphere. The waiters are, for the most part, older men of the dapper and knowing sort. And the menu is simple: besides the fresh oysters, there are fried oysters, shrimp, and fish, as well as a reliable gumbo.

Did I mention that a dozen fresh oysters will set you back about $6? Granted, this isn't the Grand Central Oyster Bar, and you can't have your pick of three coasts. It's just one kind of oyster. But they're fresh, they taste like the sea, and your waiter will whip up a cocktail sauce of ketchup, horseradish, Worcester, tabasco, salt, pepper, and lemon right at the table. (All the condiments are already on the table, so you could make it yourself too, if you wished.) We had our oysters with lemon and pepper, but dipped crackers and french fries into the sauce.

The gumbo that followed was rich and full of crawfish, but I wasn't as excited by it as I was about the oysters. Next time I think I'll probably order two dozen oysters and a side of hush puppies (which I didn't try, but were reported to be good). Friends at the table had fried oysters and fried shrimp, both of which were tender, and breaded with a light hand.We finished with their homemade lemon pie, which boasted three inches of meringue.

We were one of the last tables to leave. As the place emptied out, I listened to the swing music playing softly through the sound system and had a sudden urge to push the tables to the side and dance on those black and white tiles. Lord only knows what will happen after two dozen oysters.


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