Chef and Sous Chef

June 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG likes to cook with BSK. Of course, BSK is the leader and HG is the nuch shlepper (Translation for non YIddishists: Guy who follows behind). Tonight, BSK quickly sauteed a half dozen juicy scallops plucked from the Northumberland Strait. Big squeeze of lemon juice and some smoked black pepper. A great starter. (HG mused about the mystery of Anthony Bourdain, a favorite foodie…The guy who eats everything does not like scallops. Go figure.) BSK then boiled some potatoes and smashed them with dill, scallions, sour cream and olive oil. Main course was a a thick filet of Atlantic salmon. For this rich piece of fish, BSK transformed her elegantly simple sorrel soup into a lush and flavorful sauce with the addition of butter, shallots and a simmered reduction. The salmon itself was turned over to HG — Among HG’s varied abilities, is grilling salmon to a pink perfection. The rich sorrel sauce was poured over the state of the art fish. This led to a perfect Prince Edward Island supper (on PEI lunch is “dinner”). A fabulous sunset was part of the experience.

Keep It Simple

June 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Easier said than done, a cliche that’s also true. BSK has mastered restraint in the kitchen. BSK knows how to bring out the excellence of fresh and wholesome products. Farm eggs. Free range chicken. Fresh vegetables and fruit. Freshly caught fish and recently harvested bivalves (BSK is allergic to crustaceans); farm raised meat. BSK knows the secret to simple but savory cooking is timing. BSK focuses. BSK’s poached eggs are perfection–slightly firm whites and lusciously runny yolks. These eggs (and BSK’s creamy scrambled eggs) are the foundation for many wondrous breakfasts. Last night’s dinner was simple and heavenly. HG was in charge of the starter: One dozen big and briny Malpeque oysters on the half shell. Aided by experience, HG meticulously scrubbed and shucked. Then it was BSK’s turn: Plump in season asparagus steamed to a state of perfection–not too soft and not too hard. BSK took them off the range at the precise moment when they were at their best. Main dish was Atlantic filets of sole, steamed over a bed of baby spinach and chopped bok choy. Flavored with white wine, garlic,ginger and a touch of soy sauce. The success of this dish was dependent on BSK’s magical timing. No mushy sole is tolerated at BSK’s table.

Fregola Sarda Redux

June 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG knows little about the island of Sardinia. However, HG knows a delicious pasta form when HG tastes it. Fregola Sarda is a favorite. Tiny balls of semolina flour are toasted and the result is a pasta that evokes kasha, Israeli couscous and bulgur rice–albeit with a taste and crunch all its own. Last night, HG/BSK supped on a favorite Sardinian dish–fregola with clams and tomatoes. Nothing could be simpler. Fregola is simmered in a mix of tomatoes, clam juice, white wine, loads of garlic and some red pepper flakes. When brought to an al dente state, the pan is topped with two dozen littleneck clams (known as “Quahogs” in PEI). The pan is covered. BSK watched carefully and served the moment the clams opened (tender and juicy). Ornamented the dish with a shower of flat leaf parsley. Wonderful eating. Preceded by a dozen oysters on the half shell. The big and briny specimens were purchased by HG at HG’s secret oyster source. The price: 50 cents (US) per oyster. Clams are $4.50 (US) a dozen. Yes, Prince Edward Island is bivalve heaven.

Indian Veggies With a Bonus

June 22nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Lively dinner at home with Noel and Yossi M. (BSK’s sister and brother-in-law who are now PEI residents); their Israeli guests Dani and Maria. All admired the majestic sea views from HG/BSK’s oceanfront home. Dani is a vegetarian so an Indian vegetable feast was prepared. BSK cooked a cauliflower curry and an eggplant curry.The cauliflower was a mild, “dry” curry and the eggplant dish had a rich, semi fiery sauce. HG made , a lush dish of red kidney beans and rice enhanced by a plenitude of garam masala. All of the recipes were from the great Vancouver restaurateur Vikram Vij. They are infallible. Accompaniments were excellent naan from the Atlantic Superstore and bowls of cooling raita (Greek yogurt mixed with chopped cucumbers, radishes and scallions). And, of course, lots of fluffy rice. Mango chutney and lime pickles on the table. Dessert was fresh strawberries and ice cream followed by a local marc. Nobody missed being a pescatore or carnivore. The bonus was much left over rice which was boiled to make satisfying breakfast congee.

Back To The Bay

June 18th, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

By the Bay Fish Mart in St.Peters (five minute drive from HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home), brings much joy to HG/BSK (both passionate lovers of seafood). Everything at By the Bay is wonderfully fresh and very modestly priced (in contrast to Whole Foods, HG/BSK’s source for seafood when resident in New Mexico). The daily array at By the Bay includes: hake, haddock, sole, cod and salmon. Also: little neck clams, smoked salmon, Newfoundland baby shrimp, local oysters, cooked and fresh lobsters, smoked mackerel. Dinners this week included fried hake with tiny boiled potatoes; Japanese style steamed sole on a bed of baby spinach; stir fry of little neck clams in a Chinese inspired sauce. Everything was augmented by in-season asparagus, a glory in spring and early summer. Desserts revolve around seasonal strawberries (they taste like strawberries, not like cotton balls dyed red). The berries top scoops of vanilla ice cream splashed by a bit of Canadian maple syrup. Joy.

Sea Feast

June 15th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

One of the blessings of HG/BSK’s summers is that BSK’s sister and brother-in-law, Noel and Yossi M., are fellow Prince Edward Islanders. The industrious duo have turned their fertile farm into a fruit, flower and vegetable wonderland. Yossi, a talented agriculturist, is growing tasty little potatoes (among many other veggie treats). Noel, a tireless house painter and carpenter, has made their old farmhouse into a comfortable and stylish dwelling. Yossi is charming and gracious (unusual for an Israeli) and has made friends of fishers and lobstermen in the neighborhood. These friendships were evident in the feast of scallops and lobsters HG/BSK enjoyed at dinner last night in Noel and Yossi’s light filled dining room. They were joined by Maria, an attractive Israeli woman, who is visiting with Noel and Yossi. Maria baked some flavorful flat bread and was responsible for a bowl of delicious salmon ceviche. The feast was rounded out with roast potatoes and a big green salad. Dessert stemmed from two traditions: Canadian butter tarts and Lebanese halvah. A joyous evening.

Truck Cuisine

June 14th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is fond of food sold out of a truck — it can be out of the back of a truck, it can be in a proper “food truck” — doesn’t matter: HG likes them all. The ultimate was Italian sausage grilled to order, smothered in fried onions and peppers and topped with hot pepper flakes and served in halved loafs of Italian bread. The sausage truck was a fixture in the Greenwich Village of HG’s youth. This very inexpensive (and filling) dish sustained a generation of poets, painters, novelists and other impecunious creative types. Here on Prince Edward Island (HG/BSK’s summer home) there are some splendid food trucks in the town of Montague. In season, there’s a truck that sells spectacular sweet corn from Blum’s Farm. For most of the year, there’s a truck offering fresh fish and fish cakes. BSK fried some of their fish cakes for dinner last night. Spectacular. Purchased fish cakes are usually inferior. Lots of potato. Minimal amount of fish. Not these Montague goodies. Chunks of cod bound with velvety mashed potatoes. BSK served them with a perfect companion: Savory mustard pickles handcrafted by a mature woman and sold at the Cardigan Farmers Market. A super condiment. BSK rounded out the meal with a big platter of steamed asparagus doused with melted butter and lemon juice; chopped salad of Kumatoes and Vidalia onions; Italian truffle cheese with a last glass of Montepulciano. Watched the sun set over the sea and listened to cellist Pierre Fournier interpreting Bach and Vivaldi. Envious? You should be.

Moules

June 11th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

There are few things more satisfying than a big bowl of plump, juicy mussels. Wonderful with a baguette to soak up the savory broth. Just fine when served over linguine with a lusty shower of red pepper flakes. That’s the way HG/BSK did it last night and it was dish to remember. HG bought the mussels at the plant of a big mussel company in Morell (jut a few miles from HG/BSK’s ocean front home on Prince Edward Island). Last summer, HG was disappointed with PEI mussels. Tiny and flavorless. Woman at the mussels plant said summers are spawning season for mussels and they shrink in size. Assured HG that the early June mussels would be good eating. She was right. The two pound bag (about $2.25 in American dollars) provided some of the best bivalves HG/BSK ever tasted. Learned that knowing gourmands bought frozen mussels during the summer. These are harvested at a peak time and are tasty specimens.`A lesson learned.

Northeast Feasts

June 10th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Yes, life in New Mexico is gratifying. But, the Land of Enchantment is landlocked. The northeast coast of New England, the waters around New York City and, of course, HG/BSK’s summer paradise on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, provide some of the world’s best seafood. (Whole Foods in Santa Fe manages to fly in some pretty good fish and shellfish. However…) In Providence, HG/BSK and brilliant and beautiful granddaughter, Arianna R., celebrated BSK’s birthday with a sea feast at Hemenway’s, one of the best eateries in the city. A dozen briny oysters and a dozen little neck and cherrystone clams (Rhody clams are the very best). Rhody clam chowder (A clear pungent broth, not the usual creamy New England chowder which HG/BSK abhor). Rhody’s official state dish of fried calamari with hot peppers. Clams Casino. Broiled sea scallops wrapped in bacon, Thick cut fried potatoes. Desserts were excellent bread pudding and pecan tart (enhanced by a chocolate sorbet). Very good draught ale and a fine bottle of chilled muscadet. Anchors aweigh, indeed. The next day, HG traveled via Amtrak to New York City for a festive reunion with restaurateur daughter Victoria F. (With chef/husband Marc Meyer, Vicki owns and runs four splendid New York restaurants–Cookshop in Chelsea, Vic’s in NoHo, Rosie’s in the East Village, Hundred Acres in SoHo). HG met Vicki for a brunch at Maison Premiere, a charming restaurant in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The restaurant specializes in oysters and on this Sunday night it was filled with hip, young people drinking the house absinthe and slurping away at oysters. Generous Vicki regaled her Dad with Raspberry Point oysters (from PEI ) and Long Island clams. As a surprise, Vicki ordered two oyster shooters: Oysters topped with Beluga caviar. Oh, my!! Drank very good Muscadet. After almost two hours of feasting, Vicki and HG were joined by SJ. More oysters (Chesapeakes), more clams, more wine and a savory brandade.Thanks, Vicki for your beauty, kindness and incomparable generosity. HG and SJ took off for Keens Steakhouse on Manhattan’s W. 36th Street. The venerable Keens (founded in 1885) is one of the most beautiful dining rooms in New York. Mutton chops, roast beef and steaks are the specialties. Carnivore heaven. Prices appear to be super expensive, but fear not: Portions are so huge that one shared entree easily satisfies two hearty eaters. HG and SJ shared crab cakes, prime rib, creamed spinach and Coffee Cantata (a dessert extravaganza of coffee ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. Also ordered the Prime RIb hash (topped with a perfectly fried egg). Had just a taste. It went into a doggy bag (as did much of the prime rib) for a next day meal at SJ’s household. Every aspect of the meal was great and the service was beyond compare. Prime ingredients cooked with straightforward professional simplicity. The day ended at the Airbnb apartment of SJ’s friend where the two guys drank good ale and watched Durant and Curry destroy the Cavaliers. Off to Providence the next morning with coffee and a bialy provided by SJ. A thoughtful gesture by SJ.

Roadies

June 6th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Like the Willie Nelson tune, HG/BSK are “On The Road Again.” Destination: Prince Edward Island Island and HG/BSK’s oceanfront home. It will be a delight to be back in Canada, a democracy with an enlightened leader. First stop on the trip was Amarillo, Texas, and Tyler’s BBQ for splendid sliced brisket, dry rubbed ribs, pulled pork, cole slaw, beans and pickles. Lots of icy pink lemonade. Tyler’s is a visit to down home America, warm, honest and tasty. Next leg of trip was to St. Louis and then on to Youngstown, Ohio. Stayed in two La Quintas and a Holiday Express, all dog friendly and welcoming for Toby, The Wonder Dog, HG/BSK’s travel companion. Yes, America has some frightening flaws but two things the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave does superlatively: Tyler’s Barbecue. Chain motels. (Great beds, TV,sparkling bathrooms, free wi-fi, plenty of hot water and ice, efficient toilets,free breakfast, modest prices). Had to make time so didn’t stop at eateries like Sawadee Thai in Rolla, Mo. or Shapiro’s Jewish Deli, Indianapolis. Opted for quick meals at Waffle House. No complaints. Big bowls of buttery grits with perfect poached eggs; softly scrambled eggs with onion topped home fries. Waffles, of course. Reminded HG of artist Saul Steinberg’s advice: “If you want to eat well in the midwest of the USA, eat breakfast three times a day.” Arrived at the Riva home in Riverside, R.I., after a struggle with Connecticut Friday night traffic jams. Brilliant (and beautiful) granddaughter Arianna was there to welcome the hungry duo with San Daniele prosciutto, crisp bread sticks, bowls of steaming chicken broth with tortellini. Warm and comforting finale to the days on the road.