It was time for Vicki F., Lesley and Massimo R. to enjoy one of the much lauded culinary events of Prince Edward Island: Fireworks Feast at the beautiful Inn at Bay Fortune. HG/BSK dined there last year but it was a first for the rest of the group. The event began with “Oyster Hour” at 6PM. This is a dazzler. Highlight is Colville Bay oysters (PEI’s best) with a unique Bloody Mary Ice. Oyster loving HG managed to down 28, Last year HG ate 32. Other good things served at “Oyster Hour”: Pastrami smoked salmon with black garlic aioli; Mini-BLT’s with thick cut bacon; honey garlic sausage with mustard and crushed herbs. HG/BSK and family ate the warm goodies outside while sipping the Inn’s “Summer Sangria.” The beauty of the flower filled grounds and the view of Bay Fortune enhanced the experience. Then inside for the the the six-course feast. Home baked bread with a variety of spreads; sea chowder containing bar clams, mussels, lobster, bacon and vegetables; smoked scallops with tuna tartare; just picked salad; flat iron steak and braised beef with a host of vegetables; berry shortcake with lemon verbena ice cream. Dinner food was uneven. HG’s favorites were the bread platter and the seafood chowder. Everything served at “Oyster Hour” is superb. Despite flaws, this is a great once-a-summer festive event. Everything at FireWorks is prepared by a crew of young chefs–The Fire Brigade– cooking in a giant wood fire oven and outdoor barbecues stoked by wood. All food is local and organic. The enterprise is headed by chef/cookbook author Michael Smith. Be warned: You have to book three to six months in advance.
HG/BSK love clams. Have many happy memories of clamming in the Great South Bay off Long Island when HG/BSK and family occupied a Fire Island dune house facing the Atlantic Ocean. Harvested hundreds of clams for big feats (friends, neighbors, guests) of Clams Casino and linguine with white clam sauce. In HG’s youth, the greedy lad’s favorite place for clams was the vast Lundy’s Restaurant on the Sheepshead Bay waterfront in Brooklyn The expert shucker served clams with light-as-a-feather buttered biscuits. HG and pals devoured dozens. Last night, Lesley R. brought back Fire Island memories with steaming bowls of spaghettini with clam sauce. Used four dozen juicy little neck clams from By the Bay Fish Mart. These clams are called “quahogs” on Prince Edward Island. Larger clams are known as “chowders.” The meal began with smoked bluefish and ended with green salad plus cheese. HG had brie with chef Marc Meyer’s incredible zaatar infused flatbread. HG’s visiting daughter, Vicki (Marc Meyer’s wife and partner in the operation of their four New York restaurants} brought this welcoming treat from their Cookshop Restaurant in the West Chelsea neighborhood. The sweet finale was Lesley’s warmed fruit cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Envious anyone?
Joy. HG’s daughter, Vicki, and HG/BSK’s granddaughter, Sofia, have arrived at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island home, joining HG/BSK, Handsome Haru and Lesley and Massimo R. Vicki is the renowned New York restaurateur, owner (with chef/husband Marc Meyer) of four New York restaurants: Cookshop, Hundred Acres, Vic’s and Rosie’s. Sofia has had a happy and busy summer in New York and Brooklyn. The beautiful young woman (now sporting artfully blonde streaked hair) has been working as a hostess at Hundred Acres and aiding HG/BSK’s daughter-in-law, Exquisite Maiko, at her Oni Sauce stand at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg. Both Vicki and Sofia are happy to get a big helping of PEI sun, salt air, warm water and peace. Plus seafood, of course. The welcome to PEI dinner consisted of Handsome Haru’s olive oil, parmesan, anchovy, hot sauce dip. This was followed by Lesley’s Newfoundland shrimp salad and a main dish of codfish cakes. The crisp and juicy cakes were accompanied by PEI yellow beans (now in season) and room temperature cannelini beans in a vinaigrette enhanced by garlic, garlic scapes, chopped onions and a variety of herbs. Happily, there was left over fruit cobbler (plus vanilla ice cream) for dessert. Viva famiglia!!
Brilliant Daughter Lesley R. continues to demonstrate her superior culinary chops. Last night there was dinner with Charlottetown friends Neb and Silva. He is a dean at PEI’s university and she is an architect (designed HG/BSK’s oceanfront home). Talented and entertaining couple. Lesley and BSK prepared a variety of “toasts” to accompany wine for the group and stronger spirits for HG. Slices of John the Baker’s baguette (Cardigan Farmer’s Market) were bedecked with anchovies and roast peppers; smoked mackerel with capers and sour cream; mushrooms and truffle cream. Lesley also made her signature shrimp salad using the very tasty Newfoundland cold water shrimp from By the Bay Fish Mart. A great start. Nice preface to the main dish: Lesley’s extraordinary fish sauce composed of fresh halibut (now in season), olive oil, onions, fennel, garlic, white wine, tomatoes and lots of herbs. Served over Calamare, a unique Italian pasta with a shape that mimics calamari rings (thus, the name). Many layers of flavor. It is a dish HG could eat every summer night. For dessert, Lesley baked a fruit cobbler using sour cherries (from Ocean Mist Farm) and blueberries from the field adjacent to HG/BSK’s home. The kitchen Viking oven isn’t functioning so Lesley baked the cobbler in the tabletop toaster/oven. Turned out fine. Flanked by generous amounts of vanilla ice cream it proved a fitting climax to a delightful dinner.
Following the carnivorous excess at Noel and Yossi M.’s Ocean Mist Farm (near Panmure Island in southeast Prince Edward Island), HG/BSK and family decided it was time for a vegetarian feast. The basis for the healthy and supremely flavorful dinner was the cuisine of Vikram Vij, the proponent of Indian fusion cooking and proprietor of Vancouver, B.C.’s famed Vij’s and Rangoli restaurants. In a cooperative cooking effort, BSK prepared two curries: Eggplant and cauliflower (plus a big pot of rice). HG cooked red beans and rice (the beans were in a super spicy masala sauce). Lesley and Massimo R. and Handsome Haru were efficient sous chefs.) Once more, Vij’s recipes proved flawless. (Check them out online and enjoy). Gahan’s Red Ale (brewed on PEI) was the perfect accompaniment.
As you may have noted, HG/BSK eat very little meat when residing on Prince Edward Island. The emphasis is on fresh fish, oysters, clams, scallops plus a wide variety of farmer’s market fruits and vegetables (plus blueberries harvested from a field adjoining HG/BSK’s home). Thus, HG/BSK, Handsome Haru plus daughter and son-in-law, Lesley and Massimo R., were filled with carnivorous anticipation when invited for dinner at Noel and Yossi M.’s Ocean Mist Farm. Yossi promised a feast of barbecued lamb (the lamb raised by N & Y on an organic diet) plus a barbecued free range chicken from neighbor Amram’s farm (Like Yossi, an Israeli raised on a kibbutz). Feasting began with cold glasses of PEI white wine with Noel’s signature hummus spiked with some fiery Yemenite hot sauce. This was scooped up with Noel’s pita (gilded with olive oil and sprinkled with Zaatar, the Lebanese thyme-based spice mixture.) Noel’s pita is probably the best in North America. The lamb and chicken was marinated in olive oil and spices before going on the gas barbecue. Carefully tended by Yossi, they emerged deeply browned and juicy. Happy HG noted that the lamb had slices appealing to everyone’s palate: Well done, medium rare, rare (HG’s choice). Couscous; Noel’s spin on Tzatsiki (Greek yogurt salad); lettuce and tomato salad were served. Scotch Bonnet hot sauce on the table. Later, Amram (an attractive, engaging and erudite man) arrived to participate in the feast. Told us of his dedication to organic farming which demands much effort but contributes to both good taste and good health. Much red wine was drunk and the meal ended with Noel’s tart and tasty cherry cobbler. A night to remember with fondness.
Joyous birthday dinner for Lesley R. featuring some of Brilliant Daughter’s favorites. A nice beach day on Prince Edward Island. Breezy and sunny. Appetites were sharp. Meal began with two dozen Colville Bay oysters (distinctive green shells). This was followed by BSK’s sorrel soup, the sorrel snipped from BSK’s herb garden. Each bowl was decorated with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper. Lush. Sorrel, unfortunately, is almost never found in supermarkets or farmer’s markets (and very expensive when it is). Sorrel is a sour, leafy plant that often grows wild — it is very easy to cultivate. Best to grow your own. In HG’s Bronx youth, sorrel was found in every fruit and vegetable store. It was the basis for Schav, the heat beating summer soup that was always served ice cold and accompanied by a boiled potato and a bowl of sour cream mixed with chopped radishes and scallions. HG’s Mom didn’t puree the sorrel leaves but left them whole. Very refreshing. Main dish at the celebratory feast for Lesley was lobster salad packed into toasted, buttered frankfurter rolls. Lesley made the lobster salad and it hit the right notes of lemon juice, mayonnaise and herbs. Meal ended with a green salad and a dessert of Meyer Lemon Cheesecake. Perfect summer meal.
Brilliant Daughter Lesley R. is a lovely bundle of talents. A talented writer (she was a prize winning reporter and editor). A devoted wife and mother. And, of course, an extraordinary daughter. She was a super-cute precious tot with a head of Shirley Temple curls. Now, as an adult with a head of blonde curls (plus a bit of grey), Lesley’s talents have extended to the kitchen. One night, Lesley and BSK collaborated on a garlic scapes (from Ocean Mist Farm) pesto. A creative collaboration, indeed. A match for the best basil pesto. Profesore Massimo R., Lesley’s husband, called upon his Italian heritage to cook linguine to a hard to achieve al dente texture. Perfect starter. This was followed by a Portuguese influenced pan roast of clams and spicy sausages (the Cajun sausages from Prince Edward Island’s Taylor Meats stand at the Charlottetown Farmers Market). Onions, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and white wine enlivened the roast. It was served over lush smashed PEI potatoes (Smashed with a bit of butter, garlic, parsley and garlic scapes). Hearty eating after a day in the sun and sea.
When HG/BSK lived in Montclair, N.J., their favorite eating place was the eccentric, lively, down to earth Belmont Tavern in Belleville, a town adjacent to Newark’s heavily Italian North End. The bar (whose bartender would belt out an operatic aria at impromptu intervals) was under one ownership. The kitchen was owned by a guy named Stretch. On the menu was a dish called Stretch’s Chicken. It was a wow. Tender, crisp skinned chicken in a rich sauce of vinegar, anchovies and garlic. Huge portions. (HG/BSK always shared one portion of the chicken and one portion of another Belmont specialty, cavatelli in a sauce of ricotta and tomatoes. HG/BSK were amused when two young newcomers to the Belmont ordered two portions of each dish and were astonished when a mountain of food covered their table). All attempts to duplicate Stretch’s Chicken in the HG/BSK family kitchen have failed. The dish has been approximated in a number of North Jersey restaurants where it is called “Chicken Savoy”. Bruce Maguire, HG’s very successful public relations protege, claims he makes a very tasty Stretch’s Chicken at home but HG has not had the opportunity to taste it. However, last night Brilliant Daughter Lesley R. (with assistance from BSK) cooked a Belmont-style dinner for the family and guests Noel (BSK’s sister) and husband, Yossi M. of Ocean Mist Farm. Starter was, once more, linguine with garlic scape pesto. This was followed by a sumptuous platter of well burnished chicken in a dark, vinegary sauce that was a worthy emulation of Stretch’s dish. Grilled (and peeled) red peppers brought color to the dish. Lesley continues to produce kitchen triumphs.
Hooray and huzzah. Brilliant daughter Lesley R. and husband, Profesore/Ufficiale/Dottore Massimo have arrived on Prince Edward Island. They brought with them an abundance of good things: Wines, olive oil, foie gras, hard-to-find pastas, smoked sea salt, French cheese. Plus, best of all, Pip, their adorable, super-intelligent, female dog. Pip is Toby, The Wonder Dog’s favorite companion. The furry little fellow is overjoyed. Greeted by beautiful weather. Sunny days on the beach with much kayaking, swimming, frisbee tossing, beach glass gathering. Dinners have been festive. BSK’s lavish, smoky seafood stew composed of mussels, haddock, clams, thick cut smoked bacon, PEI potatoes, fish stock, white wine, clam broth, garlic, onions and parsley. This was accompanied by HG’s spicy rouille and a super baguette produced by John the Baker and sold at the Cardigan Farmers Market. On another night, BSK (assisted by Lesley R.) made a memorable pesto of garlic scapes from Ocean Mist Farm. HG’s signature fried hake and seasonal PEI yellow beans. Strawberry/rhubarb pie al la mode for dessert. Joy and laughter.
Cloudy day on Prince Edward Island giving HG a needed respite from blazing sun. HG looks like a piece of mahogany furniture topped with a white doily. BSK says HG looks like a negative. HG settled down in an Adirondack chair facing the sea with an entertaining novel: “Spies of the Balkans” by Alan Furst. Set in the Grecian port of Salonika, the time is the early 1940’s. The usual Furst ingredients: A sympathetic hero, some steamy sex interludes, the convoluted world of shifting loyalties. What gives Furst’s spy thrillers their unique qualities are his capacity for meticulous research, great narrative skills and an accumulation of both tiny and telling details which bring the 1930s/1940s settings to life. In the “Balkans” novel, the Greek hero drinks an abundant amount of retsina and ouzo and nibbles on grilled octopus and dolmas. The thought of these foods brought HG back to the early 1960’s when HG/BSK and baby Lesley summered in an old Dutch Hugenot stone house in Highland, New York. These were summers of swimming in HG/BSK’s cold water swimming pool. Meals and music with friends enhanced by much high grade marijuana. HG would commute nightly to Highland via an hour and a half bus ride from the city. When HG had to work late, HG would dine in a Greek restaurant adjacent to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Orzo with briny feta cheese, olives and anchovies. Then, a delicious Moussaka or Pasticcio (a sort of Greek lasagna) washed down with plentiful retsina. This was varied by lamb kebabs with grilled onions or a fried porgy. In those days HG sported a 60’s era head of very long white hair. On one such evening as HG sipped an ouzo, Mel Brooks was at an adjoining table with a group of friends. Brooks decided that HG was really Boris Thomashefsky, the flamboyant star of the Yiddish stage. Brooks, in Yiddish, questioned HG about his identity. HG replied, in Yiddish, that he was, indeed, the great actor. In the character of Thomashefsky, HG said he often ate at the Greek restaurant when he wasn’t dining at Cafe Royal or Moskowitz & Lupowitz. Much hilarity and many vulgar Yiddish words ensued.