New Restaurants a Win-Win for Canton
By Bill Grant
As a foodie and City Councilman, I am so excited about recent developments in downtown Canton! These two passions have aligned with several new delicious restaurant options in the Historic Downtown Loop. Yes, Canton quickly is becoming a culinary destination with a reputation for quality.
On April 17, I was treated to a friends and family preview of the Kell family’s latest venture, Queenie’s, and it was delicious. The new restaurant features modern Southern cuisine in a beautiful setting. After rave reviews, I have seen people as far away as Atlanta posting about their plans to visit Canton to dine there, and this drives economic development.
In addition to Queenie’s, East Main Cafe opened in the former Cup Up space, with an expanded menu and great coffee selections. By the time you read this, Steep, a Moye Tea House, will be open and serving delicious specialty teas, tea-infused cocktails, sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries, wine and craft beer. Lyn and Ruffin Moye have renovated the former Yawn’s Books space on North Street and soon will have another culinary neighbor when Local on North opens just steps away. Panera Bread will be breaking ground on the former school board property for a new building to match the historic character of the mill office and grammar school, and these two new restorations also will feature additional restaurants.
As you can see, Canton is bustling with activity, and these new dining options are a great addition to the stellar offerings downtown. All of this economic activity was included in our recent master plan and LCI updates for downtown Canton and the River Mill District, and there is more on the way as the mayor and council work to shape Canton as a connected, active and vibrant city.
These three goals emerged as central themes from our recent retreat and planning session, and you will be hearing and seeing more developments in the months ahead. I love it when vision becomes reality!
Speaking of vision, I recently had a dream and idea for a healthy dish that involved okra, shrimp, garlic and onions. With the -opening of the 2017 Canton Farmers Market on May 27, I have okra on the brain! Okra has strong cancer-fighting properties, and garlic and onions are good sources of antioxidants.
After I woke up with an ingredient list in mind, I entered them into a Google search to see what recipes utilized them. One dish included all of them, and it was Guyanese Fry Okra With Shrimp. Of course, I was fascinated by this discovery and proceeded to learn a lot about the food from Guyana. I had never heard of Guyanese comfort food, but now I am hooked.
I looked at several recipes and modified them to suit my style and personal taste. I also read that the okra fry often is served with roti, unleavened griddle bread that originated in India, but there is a Guyanese version as well. So, I made homemade roti to accompany the main course. I am not a huge bread baker, but I enjoy when I do make an attempt. The roti required a lot of steps, but it was fun to make – and delicious.
Since the okra fry packs a lot of heat from the scotch bonnet peppers, I made some orange rice to serve on the side by simply substituting fresh orange juice for water. It was refreshing and helped calm the spiciness of the dish.
I hope you enjoy my recipe for “Cantonese” Okra Fry, and I invite you to visit our new dining options in downtown Canton. After all, culinary dreams do come true!
Okra Fry With Shrimp
• 1 lb. okra
• 1 medium onion, sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1/2 – 1 scotch bonnet or other
very hot pepper, minced
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 2 scallions (green onions)
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 lb. shrimp, cleaned and deveined
• 2-3 tablespoons celery leaves,
• 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved
Wash and dry okra thoroughly and cut off ends and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices.
In a large frying pan, heat oil with medium fire and lightly fry the shrimp until it turns slightly pink.
Add chopped onions, scallions, garlic, celery leaves, hot pepper, okra, salt and black pepper. Stir occasionally, and cook uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes or until okra is darker and tender.
Add salt to taste and cook for another 5 minutes. Toss in cherry tomatoes and stir to warm before serving.