Key West has two of the things I love most in life: eccentric characters and shellfish. We’ve been holed up for a few weeks at a VRBO (an excellent find, a rare tranquil spot close to Duvall) as I brainstorm characters and plot for The Maiden Tower, a novel set in Key West, and proofread my finished manuscript for The Welcome Home Diner, a novel set in Detroit.
Even though we’re as far south from Detroit as one could be in the USA, there is no shortage of inspiration. And we’re eating well–the food is fantastic.
Whether spending ten bucks for fried lobster tacos or ceviche from a food cart, buying fresh-caught seafood from one of the excellent markets and cooking it
yourself, or splurging and taking a boat to Latitudes on Sunset Key for lunch or dinner–for this seafood junkie, the food doesn’t get much better. I’ve been patronizing various seafood markets in the area, broiling lobster tails, hammering stone crab claws (they’re in season now) and grilling grouper and snapper. All of the seasonings needed to make a fine meal are lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper, butter and garlic.
Yesterday I hit pay dirt; a tiny little stand where a fisherman brings the evening catch and his wife sells it the next morning –a solid 1/3 less cash than any place else I’ve discovered. (Duval and Catherine behind La te da.)
We’ve a small but adequate kitchen and the following recipe was easy to put together. I abbreviated several recipes, took advice from a fellow traveller, and carved together an excellent, yet reasonably simple recipe for Chili Rellanos inspired by the local shrimp.
It’s said that everything is better with bacon. Maybe so, but any south-of-the-border dish that incorporates poblano peppers is always the best-of-the-best to me.
They’ve a unique flavor profile with just the right amount of heat. Poblano peppers that have been broiled or blackened over an open flame are ideal for stuffing with any number of food combinations. Finished off with key lime pie from Blue Heaven, slam dunk.
Corn kernels could be added to the mixture, as well as jalapeño or chipotle pepper, for additional heat. Delicious served with rice or heated tortillas.