To the unfamiliar, the words “L.A. Caviar” might conjure images of eating the swanky ocean delicacy on a sunny, palm tree-surrounded patio in Southern California. However, most Southerners and fans of the popular seaside restaurant, Lulu’s at Homeport Marina know “L.A. Caviar” refers to “Lulu’s Lower Alabama Caviar,” the restaurant’s signature black-eyed pea dip. Owned and managed by Lucy Buffett, sister of Margaritaville singer Jimmy Buffett, Lulu’s attracts the same margarita-loving crowd with live music, a gift store, an arcade for the kids and of course, the delicious seafood dishes you’d expect from the Gulf Coast. The restaurant now has two locations: the original in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and one in Destin, Florida.
Lower Alabama Caviar (which is sometimes referred to as a black-eyed pea salad, salsa or dip) is an ode to Buffett’s time spent living in Los Angeles and an homage to her Lower Alabama roots. L.A. Caviar differs a bit from other Southern-inspired dips, like pimento cheese and crawfish dip, in that it is not cream-based. Instead, the dip relies on vinegar and olive oil for its base. L.A. Caviar makes excellent use of black-eyed peas, a Southern cuisine favorite. A trinity of green, red and yellow bell peppers adds crunch and flavor. The red onion and cherry tomatoes takes Alabama Caviar just to the border of salsa territory.
Lulu's Lower Alabama Caviar
- 3 (15-oz.) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3 tablespoons each chopped green, red and yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Salt and pepper
Combine black-eyed peas, onion, peppers, tomatoes, parsley, vinegar, oil and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate for 12 to 24 hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.