82 Queen & Paula Deen

love-opera-victoria-bakerSome of my best culinary experiences have taken place in the Southern States and here are two that stood out head and shoulders above the rest.

The first was at 82 Queen in Charleston (which you can find out more about at www.82queen.com). It’s been a restaurant for 30 years and it’s housed in a 300 year old building. A three time winner of the ‘Best City Restaurant’ award from Southern Living magazine and five time recipient of the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine, this is definitely a place to check out.

I recommend eating outside in the shade of their massive magnolia tree. They are famous for their she-crab soup. It’s a divinely delicious blend of crab roe, crab, sherry, Tobasco, Worcestershire sauce and cream. It was sublime.

More than 30 years ago when the restaurant opened, 82 Queen’s original menu featured dishes influenced by the African, French, Caribbean and Anglo-Saxon tastes which permeated the area. 82 Queen’s fusion of these culturally diverse flavors led to the rise of a culinary genre that had been previously undefined and is now referred to as “Lowcountry Cuisine.”

My next watershed food experience occurred in Savannah at Paula Deen’s restaurant Lady & Sons. I admit that in light of the Paula Deen scandal last year I was reluctant to visit, but there is a dearth of good restaurants in Savannah and Lady & Sons beckoned.

There was a two-hour waiting line to get in and a packed waiting room. I’ve never seen so much activity. Everyone there orders the buffet dinner and for $18 you can eat your weight in food. Wow!

Paula’s famous fried chicken is the star of the buffet. What can I say, it’s the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten. It was succulent tasty, and oh so comforting. All around the room one hears groans of satisfaction from diners.

Now keep in mind that this is not the place for keeping that diet on track. Vegan, gluten-free, detox health conscious food this is not. After all, the words “Butter Y’all” are plastered all over the restaurant.

So when it came time for dessert, my dining partner and I decided to share the banana cream pie. Our waiter was in disbelief, I mean full-on shock. Apparently people just don’t share Paula Deen’s Banana Cream Pie. It was obvious we were out-of-towners. Of course, after one bite I understood.

First off, I don’t usually feel guilt when I eat fatty foods to treat myself every now and then. But this was so sinfully rich that I did feel guilty. Guilty I wanted to eat more than just my half. This cake melts in your mouth and delights the senses. Yes, it was that good. This is a must-try experience.

Thanks 82 Queen and Paula Deen for two unforgettable culinary journeys.

 

Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center). Should you have any questions that deserve answers and may be in print please call 203-531-7499 or e-mail [email protected]

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