Florida's Gulf Coast oyster tour
Necee Regis for The Boston Globe
The Gulf Coast of Florida is renowned for its tasty bivalves and succulent crustaceans. After years of procrastination, I recently packed my van and set off in search of small shanties and independently-owned restaurants serving fresh, affordable seafood and shucked-to-order oysters. My oyster-eating, fried-shrimp-sampling, grouper-gobbling, and gumbo-tasting tour stretched from Apalachicola to Perdido. Road trip stats: one week, 175 miles, 15 establishments. Consumed: 117 oysters raw, baked, and char-broiled plus fish tacos, shrimp poboys, grilled grouper, shrimp, and five varieties of gumbo. One unexpected treat about oysters on the half shell in the panhandle: Order six and you often get seven. Order a dozen and there might be 13 or more on your tray. This was explained to me as Southern hospitality. Another tradition, eating them on saltines, was harder for me to swallow. However you like your oysters, heres a guide for your own road trip.