This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
Mark Twain famously said the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. He’d obviously never been to Cape Cod on Memorial Day weekend. While there are years the weather can be dreamy, with neither an ounce of humidity nor a drop of rain, it can also be so cold as to make a grown woman cry. I’ve been that woman, with three layers of fleece covering up a linen t-shirt and laced up hiking boots covering sandal-ready, freshly pedicured feet. Besides impacting my outfit, a weather shift also means rethinking the food planning for the weekend. A recent savior: Using Goldbelly to order rich, hearty gumbo straight from New Orleans.
Last summer, we were all set to host a BBQ on Martha’s Vineyard. I had scoured the Bon Appétit site and the recently published Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ for the perfect recipes to feed my beloved crowd of carnivores, pescatarians and dessertivores. I was set to marinate some baby back ribs, shuck corn, scrub clams, and top a grilled rib eye with shishito pepper salsa.
Mother Nature had other plans. It rained so unrelentingly and with so much gusto I couldn’t even light a grill let alone monitor a slab of ribs (I like others to stand over the heat while I proffer my opinions as to when something is ready to be flipped). I contemplated bailing. It’s the Vineyard, after all, folks are accustomed to ferries and flights getting canceled regularly. What’s one called-off dinner? Then I remembered Goldbelly, a company that enables restaurants and bakeries to ship their signature dishes cross-country. You left Chicago during the pandemic and now call Iowa home? You can still get Lou Malnati’s pizza. Traded New York for Charleston and craving deli bagels? Russ & Daughters to the rescue.
I had a plan, now all I needed to do was pick a cuisine. What still says party, even if it doesn’t scream cookout? Gumbo! I toggled between Commander’s Palace Legendary Seafood Gumbo (to which you can add cheesy, buttery garlic bread) and Cochon Butcher’s Chicken & Andouille Gumbo. I didn’t have to choose. I ordered both. What I thought might be an either/or scenario, with our guests picking either surf or turf turned into a both-please-thank-you-very-much. The darker roux of Cochon’s gumbo combined with the Andouille sausage, chicken, and okra had a deep, earthy intensity, while the shrimp-studded seafood gumbo, made with a complex shellfish stock, screamed flavor in every slurp.
As Memorial Day approaches, I’m hoping for sun but planning for rain. I’m envisioning myself eating those juicy ribs and sweet corn on the cob, carefully figuring out how not to ruin a perfectly new linen tee. But just in case, I’ve already ordered the gumbo.