Sitting on the blue waters of the Gulf, San Leon, Texas was hit pretty hard by hurricane Ike. Everywhere you drive, and drive, and drive looking for Gilhooley’s, you see vacant land and devastation. A lot was carried off with the gale force winds, including apparently the signs for 9th street. In my case perseverance and a lot of backtracking did pay off. Hunger was held at bay, and I got to sea food, or saw food or… you know what I mean.
On the Summer Food Drive, my practice is to eat only at scheduled food stops. Limiting eating opportunities, conserves precious gastronomic space for the work (pleasure) of the drive: tasting. Sometimes, like the 650 miles from Phillips Grocery in Holly Springs, Mississippi to Gilhooley’s in San Leon, TX you can work up a hunger, a big hunger. And that was perrfect.
After quickly interrogating my server about the purity of the local, post-hurricane, gulf waters & a bit of “months with R’s in them,” word-jumble (both inspired, by phone by the concerned Mrs. P Chef) I was assured that the oysters were great. Choosing to believe in the waitress’s service ethos, over her profit motives, I ordered. And shortly, a succulent plate of the best oysters I can remember tasting arrived. Of course those fresh Puget Oysters or much of the fresh Oyster selection at Hemenways in Providence, RI are likely comparable, or even better, but after driving 650 miles, I couldn’t remember a thing about them. The fabulous oysters made a big dent in the hunger, but 650 miles is 650 miles and an order of Boudin, the gulf coast specialty sausage followed. If you get past what it’s made of (like most palette builders) you can enjoy it.
Sated, sitting on the comfortable veranda, considering the route to my remaining Texas BBQ stops, I thought of the missing street signs and it occurred to me maybe it wasn’t just the hurricane. Maybe the locals want a guaranteed seat at Gilhooley’s. Maybe they like to keep some secrets for themselves.