Jamie Oliver, the young English chef and restaurateur, came to fame with a provocatively titled cookbook, “The Naked Chef.” It had nothing to do with nudity (or naturism) but rather cooking with fresh, easy to get ingredients in a simple but savory manner. Since then, Jamie has built an empire. Many restaurants and many more cookbooks. His line of foods are sold in supermarkets throughout Canada. They range from pasta to sauces and sausages and chickens. BSK bought a Jamie Oliver spatchcocked chicken (marinated in lemon juice and spices) at the meat counter of Sobey’s in the Prince Edward Island town of Montague. Very convenient way of getting a good dinner on the table in record time. While BSK roasted the bird, HG made a bowl of smashed PEI potatoes (using SJ’s butter-sour cream-mustard-garlic scapes recipe). BSK steamed a batch of fresh local yellow beans. Handsome Haru acted as sous chef and chopped garlic scapes (received an ample supply from Noel and Yossi Martonovich’s Ocean Mist Farm.) Splendid meal. Haru had a much anticipated root beer float for dessert. It did not live up to his unrealistic expectations. HG was happy with strawberry rhubarb pie (from Montague’s Juice Box restaurant) made a la mode with vanilla ice cream. No overindulgence for BSK. Just red wine and a modest green salad.
Very wet day on Prince Edward Island. Waves of rain veering from powerful downpour to gentle drizzle. HG/BSK, Handsome Haru and Toby, The Wonder Dog, took off for the nearby town of Montague for needed errands (bank, hardware stores, government services, food shopping at Sobey’s, etc.). Stopped for lunch at The Juice Box. This is a sweet local restaurant that specializes in smoothies, sandwiches, soups and some very generous main dishes. HG/BSK had big bowls of ham, potato and corn chowder. Very comforting after sloshing in the rain. Haru had a deep bowl of mac and cheese (Juice Box uses fusili rather than macaroni. A good idea.). Portions are big at Juice Box (A few weeks ago, HG struggled to finish half a platter of pad thai). Haru did better than that with his mac (fusili) and cheese. Finished three quarters in hearty, growing boy fashion.Toby patiently waited in the auto but was rewarded with a chunk of HG’s blueberry muffin.
BSK’s sister Noel and husband Yossi came to dinner last night. It was a pre-birhday dinner for Yossi and a farewell feast for SJ and Adorable Teru who voyaged back to steamy Brooklyn this morning. Robust eating. BSK made a savory, smoky fish stew of haddock, mussels and clams. HG made a rouille of mayonnaise and sriracha. Spoonfuls added heat and lushness to the stew. SJ cut some pork tenderloins into slices for schnitzel. Then pounded them thin between sheets of waxed paper. Dipped them first in flour, then in egg, rolled them in bread crumbs and fried them to crisp deliciousness. This was accompanied by a “risotto” of cauliflower. SJ steamed a head of cauliflower until soft, mashed it into to a steaming saute of anchovies, garlic and herbs. Sublime. Green salad of produce from N and Y’s Ocean Mist Farm. The chic couple (both sported becoming haircuts) also brought fresh garlic, garlic scapes, horse radish and organic PEI oats for oatmeal on chilly mornings.Handsome Haru provided dessert: Pina Coladas a la Haru. Lovely finale.
Last night, HG, BSK, SJ and Handsome Haru all contributed to dinner and the results were spectacular. At the age of four, Adorable Teru did not cook but admired the activity. (Wait till next year). Meal started with Haru’s olive oil, anchovy, caper, parmesan and lemon over slices of baguette as an appetizer. Then, HG dipped haddock fillets in egg and then rolled them in a fish fry mix. Fried them to a crisp in hot canola oil. For Haru, HG topped some filets with cheddar cheese. They were then tucked into toasted hamburger buns with lettuce, tomatoes and Russian dressing. Thumbs up from Haru. BSK made a tasty salad of local yellow beans with garlic scapes. SJ’s contribution was rich, smashed PEI potatoes. SJ enriched the spuds with butter, sour cream, garlic, garlic scapes, green onions, white pepper and a touch of dijon mustard. Haru made the dessert: Creamy and ice cold Pina Coladas. The handsome 10-year-old used a recipe from “Mocktails–The Complete Bartender’s Guide” by Kester Thompson. The guide provides recipes for scores of tasty non-alcoholic drinks. HG poured a plentiful amount of rum into HG’s Pina Coladas. This alcohol consumption, combined with pre-dinner gin and vermouth cocktails, led to early bedtime for bibulous HG.
Oysters are bred and farmed in a score of Prince Edward Island’s bays and coves. Many delicious varieties. Johnny Flynn’s Colville Bay oysters have shells with a distinctive green tinge. They are super delicious. HG is also addicted to the big, briny Malpeque Bay oysters and an interesting variety farmed in Savage Harbor. HG likes to have an oyster feast of eight Colville Bays followed by four Malpeques and climaxed by four Grilled Malpeques (a BSK specialty) flavored with a bit of melted butter. PEI oyster eating has brought back happy memories of gluttonous lunches at The Oyster Bar in New York’s Grand Central Terminal. During HG’s New York days, HG would lunch there twice or three times a month. (Months that had an “R” in them, of course). HG lunched there alone. Didn’t want witnesses to HG’s overindulgence. The lunch: Six Long Island littleneck clams on the half shell. Six Wellfleet oysters on the half shell. Oyster Pan Roast. Nesselrode pie.(This is a custard pie filled with candied fruits and topped with whipped cream.Disappeared from restaurant menus many years ago. Most contemporary chefs have never heard of it). Ballantine’s IPA Ale. The pan roast is the Oyster Bar’s signature dish. In HG’s day, the mix of oysters, chili sauce,Oyster brine, cream, celery salt and paprika was cooked at the bar (where HG always sat) in a special machine by an experienced Italian chef. The wonder mix was poured into a bowl over a slice of dry toast. Celestial. HG/BSK have a record of failure in trying to duplicate this dish. Can’t recapture that Oyster Bar magic.
Long beach walk on the sunny, windy shoreline near HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home. HG/BSK, SJ, Handsome Haru, Adorable Teru were on the hunt for beach glass to add to the family collection. Found much. One misfortune, however. SJ tweaked his back while picking up an elusive specimen so was moving a bit gingerly after. Back home there were welcome hot showers. A few gin and vermouth cocktails for HG. SJ put a Beatles compilation in the CD player. The family exploded into hilarity. Teru and Haru proved expert dancers and Haru did a very melodious singalong. BSK, a great dancer, proved she’s still got the moves. The lady rocked out. An hour of music, dance and song. Great preview to a knockout dinner. Despite back pain, SJ produced spectacular linguine with clam sauce. (Using clams plucked from the shore of St. Mary’s Bay the previous day). SJ is not a hidebound traditionalist in the kitchen. His innovations are taste treats. First SJ chopped five pieces of bacon into one inch strips (SJ would have rather used pancetta!) and crisped them in a touch of olive oil. The bacon was then removed and set aside to drain and half of the bacon grease was discarded. Into the pan went a heap of garlic and a minced half of a sweet onion alongside more olive oil. When soft, SJ added about a cup and half of white wine and six halved cherry tomatoes. The clams were then layered on top of the sofrito, and the pan was covered. As soon as the clams opened, SJ plucked them out, made sure any clam juice was saved, and separated meat from the shell (shells were discarded). As soon as the pasta was nearing al dente, it was transferred to the pan with the clam meat to absorb the abundant clam juice/wine/garlic sauce (the large clams dug up at St. Mary’s provided an abundance of juice although their meat had to be chopped up to avoid any toughness). Right at the end, SJ tossed in the crisp bacon, chopped parsley and a hit of olive oil. The result was a silky masterpiece, fragrant with the sea; the clams were perfectly cooked with the bacon creating an undertone of smokiness and the tomatoes adding a hint of needed acidity. The pasta was followed by green salad with chunks of good blue cheese. Assorted sweets for dessert. Another happy day and night.
Off to Noel (BSK’s sister) and husband Yossi’s Ocean Mist Farm in Gasperaux (southeast side of Prince Edward Island). N and Y have created a green wonderland on their acreage. Big vegetable garden. Potatoes and garlic scapes are standouts. Rainier cherry tree. Apple trees. Strawberry plants. Currants. Grapes. And, more. Much more. In addition, there is livestock: Lambs, calves and four adorable piglets. Plus Sophie, a happy, friendly dog. Toby, The Wonder Dog, was beguiled by the piglets and quickly made friends with the little oinkers. Much for Haru and Teru to taste and experience. An Israeli-influenced lunch in N and Y’s big (Noel is expert at knocking down walls in farmhouses to create lofty areas) sunny dining room. On the table was Noel’s signature hummus. Sliced tomatoes. Olives. Cheese. Sausage. Icy beer and cider. Delightfully nourished, the group was off to the calm waters and the clam filled shore of St. Mary’s Bay. Teru had a happy time floating on her life preserver in the warm sea. Noel, Haru (and later, Yossi and BSK) were off on their paddle boards where they stood up and paddled with the tides. Haru, a beginner, proved remarkably adept. Not surprising. Handsome Haru, on a New Mexico visit, proved equally precocious on skis. The 10-year-old is gifted with a good sense of balance. When not in the water, the group raked for clams (garnered some four dozen). HG, once a champion clammer with gifted feet, has lost the ability. Contributed only two clams. But, had a joyous time swimming and floating. Back home for a lusty dinner of fried hake (an HG culinary specialty), local string beans and Yossi’s incomparable little spuds. HG preceded dinner with a large Myriad View gin and tonic. The United States (and much of the world) seems to be going crazy, fixated on violent death and racism, Prince Edward Island remains a civilized haven of gentle manners, lively music, warm seas, broad beaches, green farms and great seafood. HG and BSK are glad they have created a family retreat here.
SJ, Handsome Haru, Adorable Teru left the burning heat of Brooklyn for breezy, sunny Prince Edward Island in time for Haru’s Tenth Birthday party. But, first there was an excursion to a broad nearby beach for kite flying, boogie boarding and swimming. The birthday party was festive, built around Haru’s wishes for “surf and turf”–lobster and green chile cheeseburgers. BSK’s sister, Noel, and husband Yossi, joined in the dinner bringing bags of potatoes and greens from their thriving farm. BSK’s burgers were declared the best ever and BSK’s dill laced potato salad and pungent slaw quickly disappeared. Lots and lots of lobster. Enough left over for lobster salad the next day. BSK baked a chocolate birthday cake, heavily frosted and, at Haru’s suggestion, dotted with M & M’s. Surprisingly tasty. The major gift for Haru was a paddle board and oar. So, the next day the group was off to Fortune Beach on the south side of PEI to test the board. Calm and warm waters. Haru proved to be an adept paddle boarder. Excellent balance. Deft hand with paddle. Home to a dinner of pounds of steamed mussels, lobster salad and a big, juicy roast chicken. Fun in the sun. Hearty dining. Life doesn’t get much better.
Toby, The Wonder Dog, doesn’t have much of a chance to dine out. Exists, with plentiful energy, on a wholesome, organic dry dog food mix enhanced with protein (cheese, left over chicken, etc). Unlike civilized Paris, well behaved dogs are not welcome in most American restaurants (with the exception of New York City). Today, Toby had a happy time on the outdoor deck of , the busy, casual seafood restaurant overlooking St. Peter’s Bay in northeast Prince Edward Island. The food at this emporium is on the upswing. HG enjoyed a lunch of crisply fried fresh haddock on a mountain of French fries alongside tangy cole slaw. Rick’s French fries are exceptional. Fresh cut from excellent, mineral rich PEI potatoes. HG fed some to Toby and the little guy was ecstatic. A cute young lady at an adjoining table saw Toby’s delight and asked permission (granted) to feed Toby some spuds. Rick’s, for good reason, is a happy place for Toby. Henceforth, Toby will do some loud barking, urging HG/BSK to stop whenever Rick’s is in view. Can’t blame the canine gourmand.
Warm, sunny days (with a hint of sea breeze) on Prince Edward Island give HG a preview of his eventual destination: Heaven. HG/BSK have been walking along the shore, splashing in the the water (The sea is warming up) and adding to the family’s ever growing collection of beach glass. HG’s current beach reading is The Yid, a funny, bitter, surreal novel by Paul Goldberg, a Russian emigre. (SJ gets the book when HG finishes). Days have ended with hot, outdoor showers. Cocktail of the week has been an HG invention: one third gin, two thirds dry vermouth, a few drops of Boker’s Bitters. (HG has done a previous post, “A BITTER DISCOVERY”, about magical Boker’s, created in 1828 New York). While drinking, HG has been listening to Pierre Fournier, the suave cellist, playing unaccompanied Bach suites. (Son in law Profesore Massimo R. introduced HG/BSK to Fournier). Dinner (BSK made enough for two nights) has been an Indian eggplant and green onion curry from Vikram Vij’s cookbook. HG cooked Garafalo orzo (Garafolo is world’s best packaged pasta), mixed it with a can of Indian black lentils and enhanced the dish with Garam Masala spice. A cooling salad of cucumber, radish, lemon juice, olive oil and a touch of the Middle East: Greek yogurt dusted with Zaatar. Delicious cross cultural dining.