EATS, DRINKS + CELEBRATE | Who dat? It’s our CHEESY STONE-GROUND GRITS + SHRIMP WITH RED-EYE GRAVY AND HAM, and all the delish details of the Bayou Bon Vivant festival in Norfolk


The Bayou Bon Vivant Cajun Music, Food & Art Celebration is a great opportunity to indulge in the flavors of New Orleans. This three-day celebration of the tastes, tunes, and traditions of the Crescent City offers everything from juicy handfuls of crawfish to world-renowned N’awlins jazz musicians in the vibrant spirit of Louisiana.

The event, presented by our friends at Norfolk Festevents, takes place Friday-Sunday, May 19-21, 2023 at the Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront. Look for crafters, exhibits, music, and mouthwatering Cajun dishes such as beignets, gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, and more. 

For more information, visit

Shrimp + Grits are a dish that has, over time, transcended time and place.

Once relegated to the south, they appear on menus across the county now, with home cooks and professional chefs adding their own unique twists to the dish that belies its complexity with its simple, descriptive name. 

It’s no surprise that Shrimp + Grits grew in popularity first in what’s known as the Grits Belt, a crescent of land stretching from southern Texas, sweeping northeastward across the American south to the cusp of the mid-Atlantic just outside Washington D.C.

Largely associated with the low country areas of the American South, it’s also a staple in Louisiana cuisine. 

Here’s our Cheesy Stone-Ground Grits + Shrimp with Red-Eye Gravy and Tasso Ham to fuel your breakfast or brunch before heading to the Bayou Bon Vivant festival in Norfolk, or to enjoy as a wonderful supper afterwards.


2 cups water

2 cups milk

1 cup stone-ground grits (for the love of god, don’t use instant)

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons butter

2 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

2 ounces Moneterey jack cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

Freshly ground black pepper


1 tablespoon butter

1 large 1/4-inch thick slice country ham with some fat left on

1/2 cup strong-brewed black coffee

1 teaspoon brown sugar


16 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tails removed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Dash of salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Small handful parsley, snipped with scissors

Ham slice, prepared with gravy, shredded


Make the grits: Combine the water and milk in a medium saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 

Add grits, salt, and garlic powder and stir to incorporate. Reduce the heat to medium and stir constantly until grits thicken like porridge, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until grits thicken like oatmeal, 20 to 25 minutes. Add a small amount of hot water if grits get too thick. 

Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheeses until melted and incorporated; season with pepper.

Make the gravy: While the grits are cooking, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the ham, and fry on both sides until slightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. 

Transfer the ham to a serving plate and add the coffee to the skillet. Bring to a boil, stirring and scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. 

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sugar until melted. The gravy will be thin. Remove the ham slice and shred for garnish in Assembly.

Make the shrimp: In a medium bowl, add shrimp, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and a dash of salt and toss to coat evenly. 

In a skillet over medium heat, add butter and stir until melted and bubbling. Add the seasoned shrimp in a single layer and cook for 2-3 minutes; shrimp should start turning opaque. Turn shrimp and cook an additional 1 minute until shrimp turn pink. Remove the skillet from heat and set aside. 


Spoon the grits into 4 shallow bowls and evenly spoon on the shrimp and pan juices. Evenly drizzle on the red eye gravy, and garnish with ham and parsley. 

Yields 4 servings

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