Tag Archives: FOOD

Moby Dogfish, My First Shark

It was around 1997, off the coast of NC, that I brought my first shark aboard my brother’s center console. We were drift fishing around a manmade reef near Morehead City when some deadweight thing took my frozen shrimp and began pulling. There wasn’t any fight or sport. Just an exercise in lifting a piece of lead to the surface.

Once it surfaced my brother identified it as a dogfish and warned me about the sharp spine in front of it’s dorsal fin. We didn’t keep it but when I got back to Joe’s home I looked it up on the Internet and learned that it was the world’s most common family of sharks and highly prized for its food value. One major market is Northern Europe and the UK where it is sold in fish ‘n chip shops and labeled rock salmon.

American fishermen who harvest dogfish export almost all it to Europe. The fins are sold into Asian markets where it’s made into a cheaper form of shark fin soup.

Since that first dogfish I’ve caught a ton of them. In the colder seasons of NC they may be the only thing you catch and you’ll begin to see them as a nuisance. Most species of shark are great fun to catch. A common one in NC is the Atlantic sharpnose and a 10-20 pounder will let you know you’ve had your string stretched.

I’ve yet to eat shark meat but it’s on my bucket list. I have some trepidations about cleaning one since I’ve read that they urinate through their skin and if you don’t clean them properly the flesh will have the taste and flavor of ammonia. I need an old-timer to be with me and teach me the ropes.

The largest shark, and fish, I’ve caught was a 110 pound spinner shark. I caught it off the pier at Emerald Isle, NC. Took me about an hour to get it to the pier and I had to cut it loose since there was no way I could lift it.

Check out this short video of spinning sharks.

Sorry Charlie, You Ain’t Your Average Tuna

I became interested in saltwater fishing in the mid 1990, especially around the Morehead City, NC area. The Gulf Stream runs along the NC coast about 35 miles out and is prime fishing for dolphin, king mackerel, wahoo, and several species of tuna. The most prized tuna is the Atlantic bluefin and can bring huge money in Japan. The US government and the state control the tuna catch and the penalties for bagging one out of season can be substantial.

My brother, who lived many years at the coast told me one year a couple of guys had been out in the gulf stream and hooked up a pretty large and very out of season bluefin. Greed got the best of them so they hid it in the bilge and brought it to shore. That they had the animal for sale quickly became known and it didn’t take long before the tuna cops tracked them down. When it was all said and done the fish had cost them many thousands of dollars in fines, some jail time, and the loss of their 35′ center console deep-water boat, it’s trailer, and the big dually they used to pull the rig.

This memory was prompted by a story I just read about the first fish auction in Tokyo for 2017. The highest priced tuna brought $632,000 ($1,300 a pound). The same restaurant that bought this fish paid $1.76 million for a fish in 2013. That represents the world’s record.

What you don’t hear so often is how the demand for horribly expensive sushi is making tuna horribly rare. There is a worldwide need to place the fish on the endangered specie list before it ends up dead as the dodo birds.

Mr. Beaugard Meet Mr. Shirley

Meet Mr. Wilber Shirley.

We had lunch yesterday with a couple of Janet’s cousins and their spouses at Beaugard’s Southern Barbecue in Wilmington. Hadn’t been there in couple of years but Beaugard’s is as good a cue as can be found above the Mason-Dixon Line. I didn’t have a column written for today so with the zing of Beaugard’s hot sauce still on my tongue I decided to reprise something BBQ related from the past. Here’s an article that was published in the Times Gazette in 2002.

Barbeque I’ve Known
February 3, 2002

Maybe it’s because I was born in South Carolina but, I never tire of going south. When most folks think of the South visions of magnolias, antebellum homes, pine trees or NASCAR may come to mind. For me, it’s barbeque.

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Yes, It’s a Big Issue

I had a friend remark yesterday about all the media attention Trump’s unexplained and unapologetic admittance that Obama was born in America was receiving. To paraphrase, with all the things going on in the world, why were they spending time on this?

Well, the answer is pretty simple. Donald Trump is neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in a race for the White House. And for over five years one of his major core arguments has been the place of birth and the legitimacy of Barack Hussein Obama. For over five years Trump had not passed up an opportunity to use the media to built his birther claim into a movement that grew to 60% of GOP members believing him. The percentage was even higher with people further to the far-right.

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Cowabunga, Great Burgers!

There are those who have dedicated their lives in search of the best cheeseburger. While my passion isn’t that great I do make a mental note of where I found a great burger.

Jimmy Buffett made a fortune off of his Cheeseburger in Paradise and even more by opening a chain of restaurants by that name. Well, I’ve eaten in a couple of his joints and didn’t think the burger that great.

Of the chains it’s hard to beat Five Guys. I know their fries are house made and I got a feeling they buy good quality beef that’s freshly ground. Haven’t had a bad experience yet.

When it comes to a good cheeseburger, however, we don’t have to travel very far. Within a few minutes driving time from Worley Mill Rd. there’s Doc’s Bainbridge Restaurant. I had a burger there

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Tips on Makin’ Smoke

Most people know that the secret to turning tough cuts of meat into tender, juicy, and delicious barbecue involves cooking it in a smokey, low heat environment for a long time. Low and slow as the saying goes.

Over the years I’ve tried lots of different smokers and seen many more being used by others, including competition BBQ teams. Just about anything can be used if the temperature can be controlled while introducing smoke. At the Georgia State BBQ Championship I even saw a guy using the interior and front trunk of a VW Beetle for a smoker. You couldn’t see what was inside, however, because the windows were blacked out by layers of smokey residue.

Several years ago I got tired of tending to hours of charcoal and wood fires and began trying to create smoke with my Weber propane grill. The problem is, wood won’t smolder and smoke at the low temps needed to cook a pork butt slowly.

My solution turned out to be creating a separate “hot” fire for the wood chips, and a “low” fire for the meat. I took an aluminum pie pan, punched some ventilation holes in it, built a small charcoal fire in it, and once the coals got hot enough I piled on the chip. I then lit off the gas burners, adjusted for a temperature of about 225 degrees, and let it do the low and slow magic while the charcoal kept the smoke rolling.

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There’s a New Cookbook in Town!

Michelle Beatty Prater is a MHS graduate, resident of Leesburg, OH, and one heck of a good cook. Over the course of the past couple of years she has also become somewhat of an expert on eating a healthy diet and living a quality lifestyle.

As part of her life changes she has taken the time to author a cookbook of recipes and healthy tips on treating yourself better. The book, That’s Supper in the Burg, is now on sale at Amazon in digital format for an affordable $4.99.

In the past year, or so, Michelle has lost close to 200 pounds so I know there’s something in her book that can be of value if you have to lose a few yourself.

Michelle's Book

A Rose by Any Other Name is Still a Sub

sub-grinder mapSuper Bowl Sunday is just days away and the Mother’s Club will be assembling hundreds of sub sandwiches. As much as any single food, the submarine sandwich has become a Super Bowl staple.

In these days anyone in American can describe what a sub sandwich is. The most common fast food restaurant in today’s America is the Subway chain of sandwich shops. So, as the chain grew so did the use of the term sub to describe that pile of meats, cheeses, and toppings that get stuffed into a long bun.

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Bread wars

About the only time I favor drive-thru fast food is when traveling and having to keep a schedule. On our recent drive to Miami and back I took note of what seems to be a bread war between fast food chains. Hardee’s was touting their buns as being fresh baked and several chains, Wendy’s included, were featuring what’s becoming a food fad, the pretzel bun sandwich. Even aboard our cruise ship pretzel breads and bread sticks were served at every meal. Wraps seem to remain popular and McD’s has added several new versions to its menu.

Barbecue Heavens

For at least ten years I was in search of the world’s best barbecue and have driven countless miles and made countless out-of-the-way wilber shirley's bbqtrips following up a lead. One of the first times I had Southern BBQ was at Maurice Bessinger’s Piggie Park in Columbia, SC and for a short time it was my standard. Then my brother and sister-in-law turned me on to Wilber’s BBQ (Wilber Shirley) BBQ in Goldsboro, NC.

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Two corners in NOLA

What a difference a corner can make. If you’re in New Orleans and you decide to have a meal on the corner of St. Peter’s and Jackson Square in the French Quarter you may or may not be happy. On the NOLA - 2014 (1)other hand, if you’re looking for a corner restaurant to have lunch in,  where there’s little chance of disappointment, you may want to stop at the corner of St. Ann’s and North Tonti in the Treme neighborhood.

The French Quarter option is The Corner Oyster Bar and my grandson and I had supper there recently. I debated between boiled crawdads or shrimp and went for the shrimp. Cyrus picked chicken wings. While he was satisfied with the wings I could tell that they probably came from a freezer. Being within spittin’ distance of the Gulf I was pretty sure the shrimp would be perfect. What I was delivered, however, was a half pound of dead cold shrimp still bearing their heads (not a problem) and veins (problem). Furthermore, they had been boiled so long the flesh had become tough and stringy. The only good thing I can say is their cocktail sauce was great.

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