Gulf Seafood Media Event

It’s amazing the opportunities that come my way (I don’t take these blessings for granted!) and I never know what’s around the next corner. I recently got invited to attend an all expenses paid trip to New Orleans, to join a group of 14 bloggers/writers in the food industry to tour and appreciate the Gulf seafood industry. What better place to do that than New Orleans, known for delicious and tasty food.  It was a treat to be included in this event and we all learned a lot about how the seafood industry works.  I wasn’t about to pass it up.  Eating seafood and getting to see my niece! Yes, please!

I had no idea that there was a Gulf seafood coalition that formed after the Gulf oil spill and these 5 states (Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Florida) came together in union to encourage and educate all about the best natural resources that can be found in this region, seafood caught in the Gulf waters and cooked up fresh each day.  Growing up with a dad from Panama City, FL, I’ve loved seafood all my life.  We ate fish growing up and it was something that I grew to love, as well as all the other seafood that is available.  In other words, there’s not a lot of seafood that I don’t love.  Oysters might be my least favorite, but I even learned to appreciate those on this trip.  They were served up mighty fine.

Royal Sonesta courtyard

We all got settled into the Royal Sonesta that first afternoon and I had time to visit with my niece, Lauren. I’ll share that in another post.  The courtyard of the Royal Sonesta is pretty.

Bayona

After drinks and appetizers at Bayona, we headed to Revolution (located inside the Royal Sonesta)  for another oyster appetizer.

lanterns

A beautiful night in the French Quarter.

Revolution

Revolution is a fantastic restaurant located in the Royal Sonesta.

Tables

We enjoyed appetizers here.

Oysters

Delicious oyster appetizer. Not a great pic, but even though I don’t love oysters, these were delish.

GW Fins

After appetizer at Revolution, we headed to dinner at GW Fins, another fantastic restaurant in the French Quarter.  Executive Chef Tenney Flynn, came out to greet us and I found out the menu philosophy is simple. Chef Flynn locates the most recently landed seafood from around the world, in addition to the plethora that is found in the Gulf, and prepares each variety of seafood in a way that simply pays respect to its natural flavors. And it showed in our dinner that night, even if my pic doesn’t do it justice.  Delicious!

Motivatit

The next day we headed to Motivatit, one of the long standing and family owned local oyster companies, who ship oysters daily around the world.  It’s an amazing operation and we found out all the details on how they harvest and ship oysters.

Oyster factory

Oysters are harvested by local fishermen, and then brought inside in large bags, where they are pressurized (Gold Band oysters) to open and this high pressure of 40K psi also rids the oysters of any bacteria that might be found, making them totally safe to eat.  Motivatit has strict guidelines on how they prepare and ship their oysters.  This technique was developed by Ernie Voisin and his son Mike, a non-heat method that expands the shelf life of oysters, making them suitable for shipping around the world.

Packing oysters

They ship to distributors all over the country and that’s how fresh seafood ends up in a restaurant up North.

Oyster workers

It was fascinating to watch how they work.

Huge oysters

These oysters are the biggest I’ve ever seen.  I remember my dad bringing home oysters when I was a small child and he loved nothing better than to sit outside and shuck an oyster, eating it on a cracker.  I never learned to love the raw variety.

shucking oysters

Lots of work behind the scenes to send out these oysters.

boats

We then headed out in boats for a tour of the oyster harvesting.  Each company has leased land and they can only harvest in their certain area.

our boat

I met some wonderful people on the tour, including these 2 lovely ladies, Serena, and Sanura, both food bloggers and writers.

on the boat

It really was amazing to see how the process works from start to finish.  There is even something called Gulf Seafood Trace, which literally tracks exactly where seafood comes from (from the bottom of the ocean, to your neighborhood restaurant or grocery), which was a cool process.

on the water

This region is ripe with history and families that have fished these waters for centuries.

gathering oysters

Raking the oysters from the bottom of the sea, they then throw back the baby ones, leaving them to grow and mature.

oyster boat

bringing up oysters

These guys work day after day on their craft of fishing and oystering.

gator

We saw a baby alligator sunning as we floated by in the boat.

Gulf Fish

We then took a tour of a shrimp and tuna seafood wholesaler.

Tuna

Fresh tuna ready to process and ship out to a distributor, where it then ends up in your local restaurant.

Jensen Tuna

shrimp processing

These big machines process the shrimp for shipping.

Deanies

We then headed to a late lunch at Deanies, a local family establishment market and restaurant in the Bucktown area of New Orleans.

crawfish

We were starving by this time and they had a seafood boil all ready for us to sample:  crawfish, potatoes and corn on the cob.  It was amazingly delish!  I have had crawfish before in LA, but for the most part, I prefer shrimp.

boiled shrimp

And we got some incredible boiled shrimp, fresh from the Gulf.

raw shrimp

This market has it all, fresh seafood and shrimp that the locals can take home and cook.

fresh seafood sign

It was fun to see this locally owned restaurant and they treated us fine.

Barqs rootbeer

My first Barq’s root beer was had in Louisiana year ago, so I had to sample one out of the bottle. It was good!

fish and shrimp platter

I sampled the fried catfish and shrimp and we were stuffed once again.

group discussion

After an informative table discussion, with many from the Gulf area, including fishing companies, tourist boards, chefs, and others in the industry, we learned a lot of history and were educated on many topics around this region.

chefs group discussion

The Gulf oil spill affected many fisherman and their livelihood and it’s just now starting to come back.  We learned so much about the history of this region and how the Gulf produces such an incredible bounty of seafood and that we all want that to continue.  These 4 talented chefs cooked up an amazing dinner for us later at Borgne at the Hyatt Regency.

Borgne restaurant

Another wonderful restaurant in New Orleans, with Chef Brian Landry.

Borgne wall of oyster shells

Loved this innovative wall of oyster shells inside the restaurant.

dinner

We had such incredible food while there and we were all stuffed to the gills (ha, I’m a punster!).  An amazing time and I’m so happy that I got to experience this time in New Orleans and to sample such incredible food.  As someone who’s father grew up on the Gulf, fishing from those waters as a young boy, I love to see that history continue on with the assurance that Gulf seafood is safe to eat and the abundance is coming back again.

Thanks to the Gulf coalition for a very fun and informative trip!  So happy to be included.

Disclosure:   All accommodations for this trip were paid for and all opinions are completely my own.

- Rhoda

Comments

  1. What a great blog post! I learned so much! And, now I am very hungry!

  2. My mouth is watering for seafood now!! Love, love the Gulf and I’m so happy the waters are recovering from that horrible spill.

    Oysters are my favorite, I wasn’t crazy when I first had them but they certainly became an aquired taste.
    Keep on trying them Rhoda!

    This was so interesting to read, you have had great opportunities come your way as a blogger.

    I hope they shared some recipes for you to share with us!

  3. I live in Coastal Florida and love to visit New Orleans as often as I can. GWFins is a favorite and has the absolutely best Sizzling Smoked Oysters! Try those the next time you are in NOLA.

  4. Looks like you had a great time 🙂

    I’ve never had crawfish (I lead a sheltered life, ha ha) and I’m not fond of oysters…but those shrimp look divine!!

  5. Elizabeth H says

    Very informative post. I love most seafood, including oysters if cooked, such as roasted. Shrimp is my fav.

  6. Great post Rhoda! I live in NOLA and love and appreciate all the fresh Gulf seafood we have available to us. I love it all – especially raw oysters. Some of my best memories are those sitting in my parents’ garage with family and eating boiled seafood.

  7. Great post Rhoda. So happy for you! I learned a lot about the oyster process from this post. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Interesting post!! What a great trip…..instead of a pub crawl…a seafood crawl…even better! I wanna go to NOLA!

  9. Carol Cottrell says

    I’m Soooo hungry now! Love the way they do the oysters; now I won’t be hesitant to eat them raw!
    Carol

  10. This was a great post, I really enjoyed it while reading. So interesting and great to learn about this industry. I am a big seafood lover too. Great pictures and it sounds like it was a blast! Good for you.

    Cynthia

  11. Oh my gosh Rhoda! I would thought that I’d died and gone to heaven if I’d been on this trip! I love all seafood but my least favorite is crawfish. I will have to admit that Gulf coast oysters are my favorite with the oysters from the Lowcountry of SC a close second! Right now I have a real craving for soft shell crabs. So glad you had an enjoyable time and got to see your niece as a bonus!

  12. Grew up in the panhandle of Texas, but ended up in Baton Rouge. I have always loved seafood. Love, love,love raw oysters!!!!. This was so interesting to read about the seafood industry.

  13. Rhoda, you are such a wonderful writer/blogger. You are such an inspiration. I am trying to follow in your footsteps; but have such a long, long, long way to go.

  14. I love seafood ~ and now I am very hungry for some!

    http://northislandcottage.blogspot.com/

  15. Hello Rhoda… WOW WOW WOW !!! How lucky you are and look what blogging has done for you!! Are you done pinching yourself yet?? So proud of you. I would have given anything to be on this trip with you. I love everything you ate…raw too. (raw oysters are my favorite!) I am going to pin this post to my Bucket List Board on Pinterest! I will do all of this sometime in my lifetime! So glad you shared this with us. Oh my gosh… I forgot to tell you… the laundry room is great.
    ~Nancy from OHIO 🙂

    • Thanks, Nancy! Yes, I have to pinch myself all the time, that I get to do the things I do! Thanks for being so supportive.

  16. I’m drooling. I am going to New Orleans next month from Indiana for a conference and now have some good food eats!
    My husband is tagging along and we both love seafood so it looks like we are in for a treat. Thanks for helping us with the dining expereince! What a fantastic opportunity to add to your other accomplishments. Your deserve all things good. Best Wishes. P.S. The Master Gardener wishes she she come and help you when you add some landscaping to the home you’ve worked so hard on.

  17. I am hungry now. But luckily I live in NOLA & can leave to go get some food! lol. I just have to talk the hubby into watching the kids…or better yet…he can go get it for me! Glad you had fun in my city!

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