Monday, September 23, 2013


Bo Diddley and a Datil Bloody Mary

By Doc Lawrence

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA- You can take in the tailgating experience, add an easy walk from the Bo Diddley Community Plaza to Ben Hill Griffin stadium and have time to enjoy some impressive cultural connections in this college city. The man who played the funky guitars and penned hundreds of rock and roll classics like “Who Do You Love?” lived and died just up the road. For those who never saw him perform, think of him when you see hear The Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers or Gainesville native son, Tom Petty. Bet the ranch you’ll hear Bo’s guitar sounds somewhere.

Many who visited him will tell you that Bo Diddley cooked some incredibly delicious fried chicken.

This is America’s Cracker Country, where the descendants of Spanish horses and cattle still roam and much of the food is both old and new Florida. Now a state park, nearby Cross Creek was novelist Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ home. Close by is The Yearling, a Cracker restaurant serving frog legs, stuffed grouper, quail, venison and cooter. Just outside Gainesville is the ancient and lovely city of Miconopy with prime examples of Cracker homes nestled between huge Live Oaks adorned with Spanish Moss.

I searched for genuine Florida food before kickoff, particularly dishes that paid homage to the Cracker influences. Leo and Sandy Carson served a casserole that combined fresh seafood, homemade sausage, chicken, rice and other vegetables. Everything seemed better with St. Suprey Napa Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc, served well chilled because the day was hot.

The last Saturday before autumn called for a Bloody Mary. Is there one that belongs to Florida? The Datil pepper is indigenous to St. Augustine and here’s a recipe tailgaters everywhere should try, provided by Datil pepper expert Sherry Stoppelbein: Pour 3/4 cup crushed ice into shaker, add 3 jiggers vodka, 1 cup chilled tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons of Sherry’s own #3 datil b good sauce. along with 1 teaspoon Tamari sauce, a pinch granulated garlic. Shake well and pour into glass, but do not strain. Garnish with celery and enjoy.

Gainesville has live theater, zoos, beautiful homes, great restaurants, canoeing and luxury lodging and is the perfect jump off location to paddle wild rivers like the Santa Fe, hike in wild nature preservers like nearby Payne’s Prairie.

Gainesville’s Kanapha Botanical Garden is a bucolic paradise. Countless trees, flowers and shrubbery line the trails while songbirds serenade the weary traveler.. The Florida Museum of Natural History is breathtaking. The Butterfly Rainforest, part of the museum, showcases some of nature’s most beautiful creatures.

Just a short drive away is Mill Creek Farm, a fabulous retirement home for horses. Cracker horses mix and mingle with giant Belgians and Palominos, while senior dwarf horses nudge up to the guests for a little love. The price of admission? “A bag of carrots, “ says owner Peter Gregory.  Still looking for thrills? Try canoeing the Santa Fe River, one of Florida’s protected wild streams. 

Pizza is a specialty at Blue Highway just outside Micanopy and top Gainesville gourmet dining is at Leonardo’s 706. Nearby Emiliano’s CafĂ© serves Nuevo Latino dishes. The pork and chicken entrees pair nicely with Sangria and always refreshing Mojitos.

1 tbsp. butter
1 large sweet onion
1 bell pepper
1 cup celery
1 clove garlic chopped
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
6 oz. tomato paste
14 oz. diced tomatoes
8 oz. tomato sauce
6 cups seafood stock
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. dried rosemary
¼. tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
12 oz. Andouille sausage
1 lb. large shrimp - peeled and deveined
12 oz. lump crab meat - flaked
1 cup Pinot Noir
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Chop the onion, pepper, celery and garlic; add it to the skillet cooking it over medium heat until tender. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside while you make the roux.
½ cup flour
½ cup olive oil
1 stick butter
Melt butter in large stockpot over medium heat. Add the oil to the butter and whisk the flour into the butter and oil. Whisk constantly 10 to 15 minutes until the roux becomes a dark blond color.
Add the vegetables and garlic to the roux and then begin adding the Worcestershire, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and stock. With the heat still on medium, add the herbs and cayenne pepper. Cover the pot and allow the gumbo to simmer for 45 minutes.
While the gumbo simmers, chop the sausage into bit size pieces. Add the sausage, shrimp, crab and wine to the pot and stir well. Allow it to simmer another 15 minutes.
Ladle this rich and meaty gumbo over basmati rice. The sweetness of the rice is delicious with the spiciness of the gumbo!

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