Saturday, March 10, 2012

King Gumbo invites tastes of H20 gumbo and “etc.”

George Newsome says his grandma’s gumbo was so hot it would make all his cousin’s nose run. Her name was Claudia Anne Laland, from Washington, La.

“That’s real French, from France,” Newsome said of her name.

He says his own gumbo is, well, not so hot, but he’s sure to get his fill as Taste of Gumbo, Etc. As King Gumbo, he is head of the Rotary Club of Port Arthur’s big, flavorful fundraiser set for Saturday, March 17, at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center. Get samples from Port Arthur area restaurants and service groups for $8. Proceeds go to charity and have helped groups including Salvation Army and Untied Board of Missions. Newsome says attendees are in for a “real treat.” While there’s plenty of gumbo, other foods will also be up for sampling. The event will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and you can get tickets at the door.

March H20 Madness

H20, Port Arthur’s new seafood restaurant, will be serving up manager Wayne Kung’s seafood gumbo, heavy on the okra, at Taste of Gumbo. He says it’s a recipe he took years to develop, based upon a fine New Orleans dining experience. Garret Pierce, sous chef, and Caleb Countryman, front manager, recently took an afternoon break to remind Southeast Texans they’re ready for a rush in their new restaurant. Pierce said now that diners have been steady in to sample their range of goods, from sautéed black mussels and bruschetta shrimp pasta to fried tilapia fish sandwich and bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp, he’s ready to get busy in the kitchen and crank out some platters. The men said they put a little extra spin on basics, such as mahi mahi in a spicy mango sauce. Weekday lunch specials are $5.99. What a deal.

This restaurant has a trendy side, and the bar has sports on the TV. Their March Madness specials include buckets of beer, fried and boiled shrimp and oysters.

Char Crust: This was no grilling accident

If you covet those crispy pieces of meat that some consider a happy accident, know that Char Crust lets cooks broil, bake and grill to seal in the juices and get more crispy bits on purpose. The Roasted Garlic Peppercorn is designed to “make music in your mouth,” according to the box. I was singing after I skillet-grilled chicken with this spicy blend containing a “whisper of lavender.” I still have plenty left to play with steak, salmon, lamb or cauliflower. That is one informative box. I charred some green beans in the Ginger Teriyaki. This is good stuff. If I get to have a Easter picnic, this is coming to the grill with me.

PA barbecue an ‘endangered species?’

The Houston Chronicle recently had a full-page ode to barbecue and the tribute mentioned Port Arthur. Here’s part of what the story said:

“Daniel Vaughn says he’ll pretty much stop under any sign in Texas that says “barbecue” or “smoked meat” on the off chance of finding “that diamond in the rough.” Sometimes the barbecue is just OK; he keeps driving. And then sometimes he hits a pocket of gems that sends a shiver through him. It happened recently when a Houston friend steered him to East Texas in search of a particular style of fatty beef links that hail from the black-owned barbecue joints of Beaumont and Port Arthur.

“It was like stepping into history,” the Dallas-based barbecue fan said of the juicy, fat-oozing sausages. “It was like finding an endangered species.”

10 million can’t be wrong

Turbana Plantain Chips sent out a press release from Coral Gables, Fla., announcing pride in producing 10 million servings. One of those came to me and I’m on board with a bag of sweet, crispy plantain chips that make a flavorful pick over greasy potato chips. You get a unique flavor in a chip that’s free of trans fats, GMO, cholesterol, gluten, preservatives and additives. Try them in chili, chili-lime, lime, sweet, lightly salted and garlic. I just saw a plantain for sale in a local Vietnamese market , and I don’t know how Turbana got one of those to turn into something so thin and crunchy. A bag of these will sure jazz up your peanut butter sandwich. For more info, visit

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