Thursday, April 17, 2008

In a whirl

Savannah is one of those cities which leaves you breathless and exhausted, cheeks flushed, wishing you had worn prettier shoes, and so charmed you cannot remember your own name. When you reach your doorstep again you might wonder why you don't just go straight back, it was a blunder to ever leave. It was unromantic and predictable to take off the way you did.
And thoroughly unreasonable to expect the city to forgive you. But it will, oh, it will, perfect host that it is.

On your way, you will get hungry and hope to find something delicious and satisfying at some road-side secret stand or even a dark and storied dive.

I am willing to bet you will find some of our collective breed in every joint in the South. It is my hope for you that you stray from the beaten path in Savannah and in all places so that you find your own story, one that they will not tell on Food Network, and one so much more precious because it is your own. With luck, you will depart there having the same wonderful story in common with the fine host or hostess you met that fateful day.

Here is mine: I once ate a crab sandwich in Savannah. It was on an outdoor patio in a brick courtyard. It was brutally hot that day. But it was my twenty-sixth birthday and Josh had done the Savannah Bridge Run for the first time. It was so very exciting. A perfect birthday, I believe I smiled all day. Then they gave me this sandwich and I smiled even brighter. I do not have the recipe but I have recreated something similar. I happen to know it tastes best in Savannah, but when you serve it to your luncheon guests far and wide, you can take a bit of the old South with you in these scented candles which are, to my nose, the closest I will ever come to being there and not being there all at the same moment. Low Country Luxe: Candle people to take you home again.

Crab Imperial Melt
for Savannah
Serves 4

Every crab recipe you will read will call for lump crabmeat which is wonderful stuff and should be, at $19.00 a pound. It is laborious to process, hence the cost. But I buy claw crabmeat for this sandwich as for many other crab recipes and I like it just fine at $7.50 a pound. And I I feel very strongly that when giving a recipe, it surely must be great with any manner of "crab meat." That said, Krab is not a substitute and I can imagine the recipe would be awful made with that impostor, as I believe all things made with it are. Buy claw if need be, you will still be fabulous.

2 cups crabmeat (picked over)
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Gullah Spice or Old Bay
1 teaspoon cilantro
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup, or more to your liking, sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Iceberg lettuce to top
4 hard rolls

Preheat the oven to a low broiler setting.

In a bowl, combine crabmeat, red onion, celery, mayonnaise, celery salt, garlic powder, Gullah spice, cilantro, and hot sauce. Sir to combine evenly, but handle gently and do not break up the crab pieces.

Slice rolls in half and place on a baking sheet. Place 1/4 of the crabmeat mixture on each of the four rolls. Top with an even and generous sprinkling of the cheddar cheese.

Place the pan under the broiler for four minutes or until the cheese is beginning to become golden and the top half of each roll is lightly toasted. Top with as much iceberg lettuce as you like. Serve.

No comments: