Your Kitchen on the Water

by Betha Merit

thegalley Your Kitchen on the WaterFood and water.  We can’t live without either.  But what about food on the water?  Well that’s a subject requiring a 300-page book.  It encompasses kitchen equipment and appliances, storage space, available food and ingredients, menus, power and water supplies, seating, and anything else that connects the dots in this pared down list.  The Galley will be a muse to discover options that address both the fun and challenge of providing sustenance on the sea.

Whether planning pre-made power foods to keep your crew fueled for a one-day regatta or scheduling a three-week menu for a leisurely cruise through Caribbean islands, your unique trip, unique craft, and unique preferences will come into play.  Future columns will feature menus and tips from Bay Area boat and ship owners to world-renowned chefs who prepare victuals for the rich and famous on board vessels for a month at a time.  We will address topics from dishware to weighted glassware, to propane vs. kerosene, to frozen supplies vs. fresh catch.   Sending us any tips from your own experience will also be appreciated.

To start, we thought of all the day trip sailors and crews and the abundance of fabulous restaurants in the Galveston Bay area.  And we came up with three variations for essentially doing take-out by boat.  This is especially helpful in choppy seas when preparing food in the galley can be a bit challenging.

First, you can call your favorite restaurant or cafe while you are on land and pick your meal up before you head out to your vessel at the marina.  Many restaurants and marinas provide picnic box meals tailored to your tastes when ordered ahead; just ask.  Pack up your own beverages in a cooler to be transferred into an onboard refrigerator, or just kept in the ice chest.  You can go as simple or fancy as you like in food and service choice.  Paper goods are easy, corelle dishes with bandanas for napkins are a step up.  Wine, beer, water, coke; for beverages, it’s a personal preference.

The next two ideas involve two well-known restaurants in San Leon on the Bay Area coast.  Both Bubba’s Shrimp Palace and Topwater Grill have boat docking where you can either stop for take-out or dock and dine.  Calling ahead is a good idea for these hot spots, especially if you want to have food delivered to your boat.

Matt Smith, a manager at Bubba’s says, “Look for the big pink building as you sail by San Leon, and pull right on up.”  Bubba’s is famous for fried, fresh catch shrimp, right from the gulf.  The other menu options are also fresh, and their battering is delicate and just right.  They can handle large groups if you plan to go in with a fleet of your friends.  We had twelve in our group.

Topwater Grill is another San Leon option.  They can do the same thing with take-out service to your boat or you can dock and dine.  And if you catch any fish on your tour around the bay, they have a fun option for you.  “You hook it/We cook it, is a service we offer for customers that bring their own fresh catch,” says Katelyn Reid, hostess at Topwater Grill.  The fish must be cleaned and filleted by you, and they charge a preparation fee for each person eating, beginning at $5.99 for fried, $7.99 for grilled, and $3.99 for individual toppings.  Monday night is their fresh raw oyster special at $3.00 a dozen.

So, we begin our Galley column with the easiest way to eat from a boat and provide some local color and seafood unique to Bay Area Houston.  More tips and specifics will be provided in the future, along with recipes and options that will make your food on the water experience more flavorful, healthful, and efficient in both planning, preparation, and production.  Bon Voyage.  Or is that Bon Appetit?

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