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The Food Guy: Catch this, Charleston – Seafood Week is coming

Steven Keith

First, there was Charleston Restaurant Week, the wildly popular celebration of local dining where participating restaurants citywide offer special, three-course menus at a fraction of the cost you’d usually pay.

Then came last month’s West Virginia Craft Beer Week, an eight-day soiree dedicated to the Mountain State’s blossoming independent brew industry.

Now, get ready for Charleston Seafood Week.

Seafood Nutrition Partnership, a national non-profit group helping educate Americans about the benefits of eating seafood, has chosen Charleston as one of only eight cities in the country to participate in a nationwide public health campaign during National Seafood Month this October.

Go, us!

The initiative’s goal, simply put, is to help improve the health of Charleston area residents. Studies show seafood can reduce the risk of heart disease and is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats essential to human development. The USDA recommends that Americans eat seafood twice a week, but a recent study found that nearly 90% fall well short of that amount.

To that end, the national group has chosen Charleston advertising agency Asher to coordinate a local awareness campaign and Seafood Week activities, which will include educational events around town as well as featured seafood specials at a variety of area restaurants. (Can’t wait to taste those.)

The specific participants and menus are still being determined, but Asher Vice President and General Manager Steve Morrison promises “October is going to be a big seafood month in Charleston.”

Part of Asher’s responsibilities also include building a coalition of local leaders to help support the initiative. I’m honored to have been selected to join that group, so I’ll keep you posted on planned activities and restaurant specials in the coming weeks.

“We believe with the proper education and communication, Americans can change their diets and improve their health,” says Linda Cornish, Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s executive director. “Taking the simple step of incorporating two servings of seafood in your diet each week reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by a staggering 36 percent. It’s a simple and easy change for drastic benefits.”

Founded in 2013, Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s mission is to inspire a healthier America through national and local partnerships that raise awareness about the essential nutritional benefits of eating seafood. For more information, visit www.seafoodnutrition.org.

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The newly combined Charleston Gazette-Mail features staff got together this past Friday night to discuss how we’re going to keep delivering comprehensive coverage of food, entertainment, gardening, fitness, local personalities and more in the coming weeks and months.

Oh, who are we kidding? It was just a chance to eat, drink and laugh the night away.

We all met at Ferguson’s Kitchen Gallery on Smith Street, where Sunday “Counter Intelligence” columnist April Hamilton led a cooking demonstration for chicken enchiladas, while others peeled roasted garlic, flash-fried fresh tortillas, prepared salsa — or just sipped on some hand-mixed Food Guy margaritas.

Several staff members contributed tasty snacks to accompany the meal, including Garden Guru John Porter’s fresh chopped veggie salad; Mind Your Manners columnist Pam Harvit’s chips and salsa; Life Editor Maria Young’s rich and creamy margarita pie (which may or may not have been purchased from a local Mexican restaurant en route to the gathering); and my fresh corn and avocado gazpacho — a total experiment of mine that ended up being a big hit.

I’ve shared the recipe this week, but have a confession to make to fellow staffers who enjoyed my creation that night. I whisked a little sour cream into the scant bowl that was left over the next day and it tasted even better. That extra creaminess really brought the flavors together and gave the soup an extra silky texture.

You could also add shrimp, or top with chopped or shredded grilled chicken, to turn this into a heartier main dish.

This one’s definitely a keeper.

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or by email at dailymailfoodguy@aol.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as “DailyMail FoodGuy,” on Twitter as “DMFoodGuy” and read his blog at blogs.charlestondailymail/foodguy.

Avocado & Fresh Corn Gazpacho

4 ripe avocados, divided

3 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)

1 cup orange juice

2 tsp. honey

2 tsp. salt, divided

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp. ground red pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups fresh corn kernels (5-6 ears)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

2/3 cup chopped green onions

1 lime’s juice

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Peel and coarsely chop 2 avocados and place in blender. Add stock, orange juice, honey, 1 tsp. salt , ½ tsp. black pepper, the red pepper and garlic. Blend until smooth, then chill.

While mixture is chilling, cook corn cobs in boiling water for 2 minutes and then remove to cool. Once cool, carefully slice the corn off each cob.

Peel and dice remaining avocados, and then stir diced avocado, corn, bell pepper, onions and lime juice into the blended avocado puree.

Stir well and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro as optional toppings.

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