19 Apr Lobster and a Love Affair
To celebrate our 35th anniversary weekend, my husband Kevin Garrett and I took an unusual step: We decided to play tourist in our hometown. So much is happening in our own backyard that we wanted a chance to explore. First, we headed to the Atlanta Botanical Garden where we are members to see what additions the $100 million upgrade had brought to one of our favorite spots. When we checked into Loews Atlanta, we knew we were in for a treat when we learned we’d been upgraded to a suite on the 27th floor with spectacular views of Midtown. Kevin made reservations for an early dinner at STK Midtown Atlanta, which we’d enjoyed as some of the first guests when it opened at the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.
We tucked into a spacious booth in the sleek restaurant. I couldn’t resist the special: Maine lobster stuffed with lump crabmeat, roasted corn and cilantro.
As a child, my parents always encouraged me to be an adventurous eater. Growing up in landlocked Nashville, Tennessee, Dad took delight in introducing me to lobster long before I finally saw the ocean at age 14. I fell in love with the succulent meat. Fast forward: On the last night of our honeymoon on Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas Kevin and I were treated to tempura fried Caribbean lobster tails by songwriter Hank Cochran on his yacht. His chef had prepared them perfectly and served them with a simple soy-based sauce with a hint of fire from a locally grown pepper. That simple meal still stands out in my mind. Dad, who became friends with Hank when they were both signed to Acuff-Rose as songwriters in the early 1960s, had arranged for us to stay at Hank’s bungalow steps from the sea where lipstick-red starfish the size of dinner plates were visible in the crystalline teal waters. That last night as we sipped champagne and nibbled on lobster bites while listening to Hank’s personal collection of local island music, we knew we had set sail into a life of love, laughter and adventure.
So that’s why if lobster prepared in a manner that appeals appears on a menu, I find it hard to resist. Food and shared meals connect us to a place. And lobster reminds me of that first trip to the Caribbean, the one that started our lifelong love affair with the region. We’ve since contributed to three guidebooks about the islands of the Caribbean and written scores of articles for magazines. Kevin has captured images on 31 islands and shot for the Jamaica Tourist Board. From Richard Branson’s Necker Island to Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye on Jamaica to Sandy Lane on Barbados — where we learned from our dinner host that the ancestors that Kevin and I both had on that island inhabited the same small parish – our passion for exploring and desire to share what we see and discover has given us a key that unlocked the treasures in the Caribbean. No matter where we go next, I’ll always have a soft spot for that sleepy little island where the full moon looked close enough to touch and lobster never tasted so sweet.