Sunday, May 1, 2011

CrawDaddy's - Ridgeland

Crawfish can be a polarizing conversation topic. To a large number of southerners, crawfish are a spicy springtime treat; conversely, most northerners see crawfish as little more than bait. When it comes to a northerner's impression of crawfish, I can still see the disgust on my fraternity brother’s face when he saw his first bowl. Having grown up on Long Island, Frank had been surrounded by seafood. For most people that would mean a lifelong love affair with the bounty of the deep, but Frank took a different route. Seeing his brother and father go to town on a platter of shrimp, oysters, clams, etc made him more nauseous than hungry. With that for background, it was no wonder that Frank viewed that first bowl of steaming mudbugs with a fair amount of revulsion.

Gradually, as Jon and I pinched, sucked, and consumed almost the entire bag of crawfish, Frank’s resolve weakened, but his timing was horrible. Once we were down to the last three crawfish, Frank finally decided to give the southern specialty a shot. Wouldn’t you know he loved them? Unfortunately, we were out of crawfish and The Crawfish Hut was closed. So Frank and Jon departed the next day and Frank left Mississippi with only a taste of boiled crawfish goodness.

So while there may be a distinct geographical difference in opinion towards the simple consumption of the humble red swamp crawfish, there’s also a local element to the argument. In this part of the country, Louisiana, Mississippi, parts of Texas, everyone has a favorite crawfish boil recipe and/or vendor. When it comes to my immediate circle, there are two camps, the fans of The Crawfish Hut and the fans of Crawdad Hole.

Like many more well known rivalries, Yankees & Red Sox, Auburn & Alabama, Ole Miss & State, this feud has no end in sight. Each camp is solidly entrenched and is more than prepared to lob snide remarks at the opponent and their lackluster crawfish. In an effort to strike a truce, a third location, CrawDaddy's, was proposed for the last crawfish dinner.
15 pounds of crawfish, more than a dozen potatoes and 10 or so links of sausage were bought.
Outside of oddly buttery potatoes and the annoying practice of buying sausage by the link instead of by the pound, these crawfish weren’t particularly memorable.

Before completely writing off CrawDaddy’s as forgettable, I picked up one more batch and sat down to what these crawfish were really like.
Being late April, these were decently sized crawfish. Nothing close to the pygmy lobsters you occasionally pull out of the bag, but not bad.
However size quickly became a secondary issue as there were fairly grainy crawfish. Maybe that was the sign of inadequate purging & rinsing, but really it’s just the reality of eating a mud dwelling crustacean. However there was no excuse for the tough, overcooked tail meat that I encountered in most of the crawfish.

Unfortunately, texture quickly took a backseat to the searing taste of burnt cayenne that had laid claim to the tip of my tongue.
I love spicy foods, but I need a depth of flavor, not a one note song that burns your taste buds and leaves you wanting. Although there was the occasional porky meatiness with a tail, most every piece of meat was wrapped in that singed pepper flavor.

As for the sausage, it’s just plain old Country Pleasin sausage.
It’s a fine sausage for crawfish boils, but these links tasted a little flat, almost like they weren’t boiled with the crawfish.

After two separate occasions with a third party, I don’t think peace between the Jackson crawfish camps is any closer. CrawDaddy’s was supposed to be a compromise, instead it was a three or four bags of lackluster flavor and one dimensional heat. I’ll let their annoying practice of charging by the link for sausage slide, but the next time the subject of crawfish enters the conversation, I’ll happily acquiesce to Crawdad Hole before I pay another visit to CrawDaddy’s.

CrawDaddy's Address & Information
610 Highway 51, Ridgeland, MS 39157 //601.605.4974 ‎
CrawDaddy's on Urbanspoon

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