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Eat Explore

“Bald” Peanuts + Oysters in Apalachicola

“Ma’am, what’s your preferred rice?” the woman on the other end of the phone call asked? Confused by the question, my food-centric mind drifted to forbidden black rice or jasmine rice, my two favorites. I asked her to repeat the question. After all, my call was to schedule COVID-19 tests for David and myself. Why would rice matter? Third attempt to clarify the question, she asks, “Are you Caucasian or black?” OK, she’s asking about our race, not rice.

Boiled peanuts are sold by the bag.

I may be a native southerner, but deep south cotton mouth is thicker than my ears are used to. “Bald peanuts” are boiled peanuts, and you pick up “ersters” and “shrump” from local seafood shacks. That’s life here in the Florida’s Panhandle known as “the Forgotten Coast,” where we are “rat now’ (a.k.a. right now). Apalachicola, Eastpoint and St. George’s Island are hours from resort development and crowded beaches further west on the Emerald Coast, and locals want it to stay that way. “Don’t tell people about us,” they write in a private Facebook group.

Well, sorry folks, but we like to share stories about interesting places and support local businesses. We happen to have a mutual passion for oysters. Here in Oyster City (a.k.a. Apalachicola) we enjoy a daily dozen slurp washed down with a cold Oyster City Brewing Company “Mangrove” IPA in the afternoons. (and recently Paumanok Chenin Blanc)!

Jeff Tilley teaches us  to shuck oysters
Jeff Tilley teaches us to shuck oysters

This week on The Connected Table LIVE we visited with Jeff Tilley, co-owner with his son, Reid Tilley, of Oyster Boss in Sopchoppy, Florida. Oyster Boss sells to restaurants, and the Sopchoppy retail outlet caters to drop ins and now has a growing ecommerce business launched during the pandemic. www.oysterboss.com

Apalachicola oysters have long been prized by bivalve fans, from chefs to consumers, but Tilley shared with us the challenges facing the industry as a result in changes in the water quality, resource mismanagement and the global sea level rise, among other reasons. Most are the result of human intervention. Pollution, runoff and waste disposal are all taking a toll on Florida’s coastal water system. Climate change is also a factor. The area has been impacted by drought and by Hurricane Michael, a category five that slammed the Panhandle in 2018. Much of the eye hit further west around Mexico Beach and Panama City, but we still saw some storm damage in Port St. Joe.

oysters on the half sheel
Did you know oysters are loaded with zinc, copper and vitamin B12- so good for the immune system!

Last year The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to shut down oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through 2025, severely impacting an industry crucial to this region’s economy.  Apalachicola Bay historically produced 90% of Florida’s oysters and 10% of the nation’s supply.  Many restaurants rely on farmed oysters from Florida and Texas, although you can still find wild-caught from other regions of Florida.

Oyster Boss sources its farmed oysters from Alligator Point in Franklin County, where the water has a higher salinity resulting in a buttery, mild, salty oyster. Further south in northwest central Florida near Yankeetown (Levy County) Oyster Boss sources wild -caught oysters, that are plump, succulent and briney. Tilley brought us bags of both to sample, gave us a lesson on shucking and provided us with some education on the reproductive system of oysters.

One perfect pearl of an oyster.

Tilley is also a red mullet fan. These fish like to jump in the water, although we still have not tasted. He started the Facebook group, Wet Net Mullet Group, now with 12,000 members. “There is a lot of seafood power in this group,” he shared.

Shucking prowess is akin to having good knife skills. And the right knife. Tilley uses a knife called “Toadfish” which Oyster Boss sells. You need a sturdy grip and a glove. Find the “lip” of the oyster, insert the blade and start moving it back and forth until the shell starts to open slightly. Then, insert deeper. It can take some arm muscle and definitely nimble wrist action.

David shucks oysters
David shucks oysters

If you love pristine places to visit, care about sustainable aquaculture and are oyster lovers like we are, you’ll enjoy our conversation with Jeff Tilley. Listen here:

and share this link with friends: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/209-the-connected-table-live-27073513/episode/fla-gulf-coast-oyster-boss-jeff-77121731/

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Savory Chatter on the Connected Table Live! Dec. 3

Her Miami Herald “Dinner in Minutes” column is distributed on the McClatchy Wire Service to over 6 million readers each week. She is the “go to” source for all things culinary in South Florida and the Keys and is author of The Flavor of the Florida Keys (new!) and Keys Cuisine.

She is the producer and host of the weekly segment part of Topical Currents, “Food News and Views,” on WLRN 91.3 FM and National Public Radio where she dispenses great tips on cooking for the family and showcases well-known chefs and personalities from around the world, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Lee Iacocca, Paula Deen, Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse.

She is an award winning author of over 30 books, including three recently released books covering diabetes friendly cooking published in cooperation with the American Diabetes Association: No-Fuss Diabetes Desserts, Simply Smoothies: Fresh & Fast Diabetes-Friendly Snacks & Complete Meals, Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table.

Linda Gassenheimer
Linda Gassenheimer

TV and Radio Personality, Syndicated Journalist, Best Selling Author, Spokesperson, and Food Consultant Linda Gassenheimer joins us December 3 to discuss her latest books, the culinary scene in South Florida and cooking for both your pleasure and for your health.

Connect:

http://www.DinnerInMinutes.com

https://twitter.com/LGassenheimer

https://www.facebook.com/linda.gassenheimer

You have to love a woman whose Twitter description reads: Wife. Author. Speaker. Traveler. Biker. Fave hobbies: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You have to love a woman who recommends bread, Champagne, chocolate and romance as key ingredients to a balanced diet and lifestyle,

You have to admire a woman who has written three international best-selling books on the art of living well: French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, Women for all Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure and French Women Don’t Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude

You have to respect a woman who reached the top echelon of both the wine and spirits and luxury goods industries as CEO of Clicquot Inc. where she is credited with growing Champagne Veuve Clicquot’s market share in America grew from less than one percent to more than 25 percent.

Mireille Giuliano
Mireille Giuliano

We’re talking about Mireille Giuliano, who has been called “the high priestess of French lady wisdom” (USA Today), “an ambassador of France and its art of living” (Le Figaro), “an idea entrepreneur” (Harvard Business Review) and “an art-of-living guru” (The New York Times).

We call her uber-preneur. Her savoir faire lifestyle has been admired, adopted and followed by legions. Mireille is out with a delightful new book, Meet Paris Oyster, just in time to enjoy holidays on the half shell. We’ll be speaking with Mireille about all things we love about food, champagne and France and her approach to la joie de vivre

Connect:

http://www.frenchwomendontgetfat.com/
http://www.MireilleGuiliano.com
http://www.twitter.com/French_Women
https://www.facebook.com/mireille.guiliano.fanpage
http://pinterest.com/mgfrenchwomen/
http://www.instagram.com/french_women
https://plus.google.com/111651917084266935042/posts

Join Melanie Young and David Ransom Wednesdays, 2pm ET/11am PT on The Connected Table LIVE! Each week this Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple features the dynamic people who both work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits, cookbook publishing and hospitality. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook