Sunday, August 26, 2007

Gumbo

Then-fiancé-now-Mr.Minx and I had an opportunity to visit New Orleans with a group of Emeril Lagasse fans in the hot summer of 2000. We had reservations at Commander's Palace and the original Emeril's, and were going to wing the rest of our meals. The Mister and I, being fairly avid fans of the big E at the time, and recalling my very positive experience at his restaurant in Orlando, wanted to try another of his places, NOLA. Lynne, the brassy and bossy self-appointed leader of our motley group of travelers advised us that NOLA had gone downhill and it was not worth visiting. We decided to actively disobey her and made lunch reservations, abandoning the group one sultry afternoon for our own adventure.

It was a very very good idea. Not only was it the best meal of the trip, it was also the occasion of my trying the very best version of gumbo I have ever had the pleasure to eat. It was full of seafood, dark, rich, spicy, and as sultry as the air outside the front doors. I wanted to take home a suitcase-full of it.

I like to make gumbo, as does Mr. Minx. We've together and individually created many a good batch, but nothing like the now-legendary stuff from NOLA. And then I got very lucky.

My friend Kate moved to Delaware a year ago. Since living there, she discovered a little Cajun food stand in the Booth's Corner Farmer's Market in Boothwyn, PA, a short distance from Wilmington. Raving about the gumbo, she brought me a pint to try. It was dark, rich, authentic, and wonderfully delicious. Turns out, its creator, Don Applebaum worked for Emeril at NOLA for several years, one of those being the year 2000.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Don and eat at Cajun Kate's. I sampled more of the gumbo, his jambalaya, popcorn shrimp, a muffaletta, bananas foster bread pudding, beignets, and the completely outrageous deep fried macaroni and cheese made with crabmeat, tasso, four kinds of cheese, and topped with a tangy sweet tomato glaze. While stuffing my face with his fare, I told him about the seafood gumbo we experienced in New Orleans. He admitted, admirably un-modestly, that it was his.

I felt like I had discovered the Holy Grail.

Don doesn't make the seafood gumbo regularly, so if you're in the Booth's Corners Farmer's Market and happen to see it on the menu, do yourself a favor and grab yourself a bowl. It sells out fast, so go early. And hell, if that's not the flavor of the week, try the pork, or the brisket, or the smoked duck or the...deep fried mac and cheese!

Cajun Kate's
Booth's Corners Farmer's Market

Open Friday and Saturday only!

Cajun Kate's on Urbanspoon
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