October 31, 2014
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Adventures In Travel Gastronomy

Food Lovers, Ready Your Maps!
Oyster shucking in Apalachicola, Fla.Oyster shucking in Apalachicola, Fla.
An oysterman shucks his daily haul for customers.

Culinary vacations are all the rage; they’ve become true gastronomic adventures for hands-on learning or pure entertainment. Here, we present three trips focused nearly entirely on dining: Franklin County, Fla., where you’ll dine from the nursery bed of the Gulf of Mexico; Elkhart Lake, Wis., a resort lake community where restaurants innovate with locally-sourced bounty; and a tightly edited Manhattan food lovers’ trip. Ready your maps!

We're Salty!By Kristen K. Tucker

Benefiting from the richness of the flood plain that extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the mountains of North Georgia, Franklin County, Fla. — home to Apalachicola and St. George Island — truly offers the bounty of the bay in dining.

Erik Lovestrand, acting manager of the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, emphasizes the importance of Franklin County to Florida’s culinary flavor: 90 percent of the state’s oyster crop is produced there.

Harvest your own oyster breakfast fresh from the bay with an experienced oysterman who also will invite you to shuck them, and eat the oysters on crackers, dashed with hot sauce.

If you’d rather a chef handle your oysters, visit Up the Creek Raw Bar in Apalachicola, where Chef Brett Gormley infuses his menu with exciting culinary trends. Oysters are prepared in tasty variations; clams, locally grown, are steamed with white wine and seasoned with unsalted butter — Asiago cheese bread sops up the addictive broth; and grouper is delectably wrapped in bacon. Not always on the menu but worth inquiring about: homemade sarsaparilla root beer and homemade vanilla ice cream presented in a float.

At Tamara’s Café, also in Apalachicola, zesty Latin flavors perk up the menu. House specialties include pecan-crusted grouper, taste of Apalachicola stew, Cuban black bean soup, and a Caribbean banana split — a fried banana topped with vanilla ice cream, fruit compote, and drizzled with chocolate syrup.

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