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Asian crab cakes
with red pepper and ginger mayonnaise
- and -
Chocolate Pear Cake with Créme Anglais

Longview Daily News columnist Grace Reade wrote a lovely account of her visit to the Shoalwater and included a few favorite recipes...

[Click here for the recipes!]

"Crab cakes and an alligator boy"
By Grace Reade, Longview Daily News

For now, visiting season is over, but it's only a brief respite. Next month, UK friends Donna and Vivien will be over to experience not only the wonderful Pacific Northwest but also their first Thanksgiving.

Now that will be interesting, as I'm not exactly au fait with all the customs and foodstuffs, Thanksgiving not being a British celebration. But I'll do my best thanks to friends who've supplied many recipes.

One dish I will NOT be doing is that awful green bean casserole which utilizes tinned soup. My daughter Sue just loves that to bits, but I just cannot abide the stuff.

Everything else is of course wonderful, and I'm looking forward very much to serving up a groaning table of delectable dishes, enough to satisfy the most discerning palate.

Having Reg (husband Bill's big brother) here was a lot of fun. We were able to show him places which, although not new to us, had him astonished and overawed. I think the best day had to be when we went out as far as Long Beach. He'd touched the Atlantic of course and the idea of touching the Pacific too appealed to him immensely.

One place in particular that also appealed was Marsh's Museum in Long Beach. What an emporium of wonders that place is! Apart from all the kitschy souvenirs and usual tourist rubbish, Reg was enchanted to see all those old-time fortune-telling machines, peep-shows for a nickel, and even the precursor to the modern disc-player, a coin-operated musical box.

What really had us all gobsmacked, though, was Jake the Alligator Boy. I don't think I've ever seen anything so weird and gross since Margaret Thatcher first came to power. Reg looked as though he felt the same. All in all, Marsh's Free Museum was well worth the trip out there.

I don't do restaurant reviews generally as I find it almost impossible to be truly objective, but for once I'm going to mention somewhere else which is well worth the trip out there.

Back in 1998, when our friend Pete Farrell first visited us in Longview, we made the same trip and since then I've been hungering for the wonderful crab cakes at the Shoalwater restaurant in Seaview.

With fingers, eyes and toes crossed I hoped that the same cakes would still be on the menu. Oh delightful day, indeed the Shoalwater restaurant, part of the Shelburne Inn, is live and kicking, and we stopped there for a hopefully delicious lunch,

Now if this had been a restaurant review trip, we'd all have selected different dishes, but the guys decided to go along with my choice of -- you guessed it -- the Asian crab cakes, touched up with a little shrimp.

First of all, I had to try their fondue -- did I mention I'm also a fondue lover? -- and that was as sticky and cheesy as anyone could wish for. The most prized part of any cheese fondue is, of course, the very thick and glutinous residue left at the bottom of the pot, which is something to be fought over in Swiss ski eateries, and again I was not disappointed.

Bill and Reg were allowed a tiny taste but no more, as I was just too greedy and selfish. "Mine", I said, "back off and leave me be." So they did. They were more interested in their microbrews than my appetizer, anyhow.

I have to admit that we were fairly ravenous when the crab cakes finally arrived and would probably have eaten just about anything, but of course just about anything was not on the agenda. No, we had platters each of large, juicy-looking crab cakes, enhanced with an exquisitely toothsome red pepper and ginger mayonnaise and a tangy sauce verte.

My memory hadn't let me down. In fact, these cakes seemed even better than before, and I almost wished I' doubled my order. Surprisingly though, the two each we were served were just filling enough --- more would have been sheer greed and would have ruined the experience. Mind you, if you say my last name and first initial quickly enough it does come out as Greade, doesn't it?

I've wanted that particular recipe for quite some time and I thought about approaching the chef with sickly smile and touching my forelock but there was no need in the end. The Shoalwater cookbook was on sale there, with the Asian crab cake recipe easily found.

The only difference between the dish and the recipe itself was the addition of finely chopped shrimp, which was a stroke of genius in my humble opinion, although how can you improve on perfection itself? Much kudos to Chef Cheri Walker and Ann and Tony Kischner for making that impossible improvement.

There was just one tiny fly in the ointment and that was, naturally, my fault. In my haste to buy the book I inadvertently left my credit card behind and didn't realize for a couple of days just how careless I'd been.

It was panic stations here at the Reade house for a few hours but luckily I was able to backtrack my purchases and a quick phone call to the nice people at Shoalwater had me grinning with relief. They'd found it almost immediately and had it in the mail to me minutes after I called.

Yet again I find it in my heart to thank them all there, not only for the wonderful food, amazing selection of single malt scotches and general welcoming atmosphere, but also for the prompt and kind attention to the needs of a silly woman who would lose her head if it weren't nailed on tightly.

I searched through the Shoalwater book for this recipe and almost gave up until I was told which one it was.

Alas, there is no sign of that amazing fondue so perhaps I will go back, cap in hand, to beg prettily. In lieu, I'm adding a delicious sounding dessert recipe. At time of writing I've not actually tried to make any of the following but when I get my courage up, I shall indeed do so. G.R.

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Grace Reade is a Liverpool transplant by way of Houston. She loves to cook, read about cooking and write about cooking. Reach her in care of The Daily News, P.O. Box 189, Longview, WA 98632, or by e-mail at tdnfoodlady@earthlink.net.




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