Chilly Toby

June 29th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG is obsessive about Toby The Wonder Dog. Fearful when Toby is missing for a more than ordinary length of time. (Coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, rattlers and other predators?). Very concerned when Toby shows signs of an upset tummy. Yes, HG has become a doting, over-protective parent once again. For most of the year HG’s handsome little companion has a dense, curly coat which makes him resemble a little lamb. Keeps him warm and snug when weather becomes inclement. However, grooming is necessary when coat becomes tangled and filled with objectionable smelly bits picked up in his wanderings. Now that we are in the summer solstice, shearing has become necessary. So, BSK made an appointment with a very good, young groomer on the south side of Prince Edward Island. Toby anticipated his fate (smart dog) and didn’t like it. So, the winter coat came off and what emerged was an unhappy, skinny, vulnerable pup. Tough time for Toby. The weather turned wintry. Cold, incessant driving rain, strong winds. With no coat to protect him, the little guy had a serious case of the shivers. Thoughtful BSK wrapped Toby in towels after his necessary trips outside to do his necessities. BSK assured Toby that sunny, warm (even hot) beach days were in his future and he would be happy not to be steaming in his fur coat.

Healthy Anniversary

June 28th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

A few days back (June 25) marked the 26-year anniversary of HG being free of the pernicious nicotine addiction. Yes, it is an addiction, not a habit. And, an addiction that is very, very hard to end. Beloved SJ has tried, with varying degrees of success, to end his addiction. Very tough. Especially in Tokyo where SJ and family now live. From all reports, the city is filled with cigarette smokers. During HG’s half century smoking days (from age 13 to age 63), the ever puffing fellow smoked at least two packs of Marlboros daily interspersed with Punch maduro leaf cigars (which HG inhaled). There are few family photos of HG without cigarette in hand. First cigarette was upon awakening in the morning and last was before turning out the bedside lamp and going to sleep. Breakfast consisted of many cigarettes, black coffee and the New York Times. (Woe, woe, unfortunate BSK, the victim of omnipresent clouds of second hand smoke). Did the desperate addiction affect HG’s health. You betcha. Throat cancer in 1992. Saved by a miraculous 12 hour surgery by a team headed by a genius surgeon. Difficult one year recovery period. At present, HG has COPD. Finds walking at high altitudes (like Santa Fe) difficult. Also, has to sleep with a noisy oxygen tank at high altitudes. (HG and BSK possess many pairs of ear plugs). HG can’t credit will power and mental toughness with ending the nicotine addiction. It was the death drama of cancer that did it. HG has been asked (now that HG is moving on to age 89) if he would like to resume smoking at age 90. No. HG hates the smell of tobacco smoke. Finds the sight of smokers depressing. It all signifies death, not pleasure, to HG.

“Covers Prince Edward Island Like The Dew”

June 27th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

That’s the claim of The Guardian, Prince Edward Island’s much loved daily newspaper. HG/BSK’s breakfast is incomplete without a reading of The Guardian. The front page is always arresting. This one expresses joy and preparedness for Oct. 17, the happy day when cannabis becomes legal in Canada. And, there’s an unusual tale of a guy who got a two year jail sentence for stealing more than 100 pairs of underwear from PEI women. The undies were kept in re-sealable plastic bags labelled with the women’s names. A stimulating story (that is, if you find lady’s knickers, scanties, thongs, a matter of more than cursory interest). There’s little local stuff The Guardian doesn’t cover: Meetings. Legislative matters. The environment. Seas. Tides. The lobster and oyster fisheries. Weddings. Births. Obits. Sadly, the paper no longer has a restaurant reviewer. The last one, a man who dined with his wife, had a sunny disposition. Never tasted anything that he and spouse didn’t like. His prose became lyrical when he described a tunafish sandwich on whole wheat toast.

Red Sauce Lives In PEI

June 27th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Traditional “red sauce” Italian restaurants have lost ground to “Northern Italian” places that limit the use of tomatoes and garlic in their cuisine. But, “red sauce” dishes still carry a powerful culinary punch. Sunny, warm weather at Prince Edward Island yesterday. But, the night turned chilly. HG/BSK desired something hearty. And, that’s what they got. BSK created a sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, olive oil and four Italian sausages (two mild and two hot). HG cooked (al dente) excellent Garafolo tagliatelle. With plenty of grated parmesan, red chile flakes and an accompaniment of Chilean red wine, HG/BSK were a happy duo as they ate and watched a dramatic, lengthy sunset. Must confess the sausages were just okay. They lacked the fennel zest of true Noo Yawk Italians. It seems unlikely that Esposito’s will open a branch on PEI. But, HG can always dream.

Lobster Feasting

June 25th, 2018 § 1 comment § permalink

Among the many wonderful things about Prince Edward Island is the fact that you can buy wondrous seafood at laughably modest prices (given the favorable ratio between the dollar and the loony). This was evidenced by the super lobster feast at the home of Noel , BSK’s sister, and her husband, Yossi. At dinner Chez Martonovich last night,HG/BSK sat down at a table centered on a platter of six steamed lobsters. (sadly, BSK is allergic to crustaceans but had the pleasure of PEI sauteed scallops). There were tiny, flavorful buttered PEI potatoes on the table plus plentiful wine and local beer. Yossi said he bicycled to a nearby harbor and bought the lobsters from an incoming boat. Very modest cost, he said. In any case, HG had an exuberant feast. There is a real difference between a fresh-off-the-boat lobster and those that have been dwelling in a tank for long periods; the flesh is sweeter, more tender and less prone to become rubbery. Much to HG’s delight, there were a number of female lobsters providing plentiful roe. Thoughtful Noel provided a big bowl of melted butter for dipping. She topped off the the festivities with a dessert of tapioca pudding and vanilla ice cream. Are you turning green with envy?

Newfie Shrimp

June 23rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Tiny shrimp are rarely tasty, Flaccid. Mushy. The fortunate exception are the cold water baby shrimp sold at By the Bay Fish Mart in St. Peters, PEI. They are harvested in the icy waters of Newfoundland. Shelled. Steamed. Flash frozen and off, via air transport, to Prince Edward Island. They are a succulent delight. HG alternates the shrimp with Malpeque oysters as a nightly appetizer. HG mixes some spoonfuls with olive oil, sliced garlic and red pepper flakes (the way “Marco” Scungilli Salad is prepared at the Belmont Tavern in Belleville, NJ.). Or, HG gives the shrimp a hit of lemon juice and Island Shellfish lime and cilantro hot sauce. Or, Chinese style with sesame oil and blazing hot chile oil. All yummy. Gifted daughter Lesley R. makes a lush salad with the shrimp, mixing them chopped celery, onion, lemon juice and mayonnaise. By the Bay’s shrimp are one of the reasons HG is fond of Newfoundland. It seems the local population handles the very cold temperatures with strong drink, robust food, music and jollity. HG/BSK hope to visit the capital city of St. John’s one day. Reputed to be very lively, very colorful. Symbolic of St. John’s is the calendar propped in HG/BSK’s Santa Fe kitchen. The months are marked with photos of brawny, shirtless, much tattooed, bearded St. John’s guys bedecked as mermaids. Makes HG/BSK smile.

Paul Bocuse Vinegar Chicken

June 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Paul Bocuse (1926-2018) was one of France’s most famous and innovative chefs. His Lyon restaurant, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, was a three-star landmark. Not modest, he topped the restaurant building with a large neon sign spelling out “Paul Bocuse.” (He noted that although God is very well known, the church bells still had to ring every morning). Bocuse’s restaurant featured some very elaborate dishes alongside some simple, hearty Lyonnaise specialties. One of them was Vinegar Chicken. BSK cooked it last night and it was chilly night pleasure. Skin on chicken thighs were dredged in flour and browned in olive oil. Bocuse’s original recipe called for the bird to be browned in seven tablespoons of butter (a bit excessive). Softened shallots, garlic, tarragon and thyme in chicken juices and a bit of butter. Added red wine vinegar and Japanese rice wine vinegar. Raised heat until acrid vinegar odors were diminished. Thickened the sauce with plentiful butter. (In Lyon, a big dollop of creme fraiche is swirled in the sauce). Pan was covered and the chicken was braised until done. Served with basmati rice (first rinsed and then cooked so that each kernel was separate and slightly al dente) plus a kumatoe and sweet onion salad. HG contemplated adorning the kitchen in HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront paradise with a neon “BSK.” The excellent woman’s cooking deserves fame.

Oyster Strife

June 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG and BSK have very few food difference. It is one of the secrets to HG/BSK’s long marriage (55th anniversary July 2). However, there are a few — HG likes steak and lamb chops blood rare. BSK prefers them “bien cuit” (well cooked). BSK does not drink hard liquor (a very occasional snifter of Sambuca is BSK’s only concession. HG is a robust consumer of vodka, bourbon, gin, tequila, scotch, rum, marc, pastis, brandy. (Yes, HG overindulges). Those are the only differences. Except for oysters. BSK likes subtle, medium sized oysters. Prince Edward Island is oyster heaven. While oysters in New York and New England diminish in taste during months without an “R” in them, PEI oysters are splendid 12 months a year. BSK’s favorites are Colville Bay oysters with their distinctive green tinged shells and delicious, subtle taste. HG prefers the very large Malpeques HG purchases in quantity from Atlantic Shellfish (Red Head Lane in Morell). These have a briny taste that is like being hit in the face by a Bay of St. Lawrence wave. And, some are truly oversized. A few nights ago, HG chomped down on a four inch, fat Malpeque. It was like eating an oyster steak. Outside of PEI, favorite venues for oysters are Rhode Island (winter months); Paris (despite the stratospheric prices) and Vancouver. BSK likes the Pacific Kumamotos at Yaletown’s Rodney’s Oyster Bar. While Rodney’s other oyster offerings are very good, HG finds the Kumamotos insipid. The very best oyster centered meal is had at New York’s venerable Grand Central Oyster Bar. Six oysters on the half shell as starters. Then, the signature dish. Rich, creamy, lush Oyster Pan Roast. Nesselrode Pie (don’t know if this is till on the menu) for dessert. The meal is a glimpse of bivalve eater heaven.

Frog Legs

June 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Many years ago, New York’s theater district and the cross streets that extended into the far west side were dotted with plain spoken, very traditional French bistros. Hearty, affordable food and rough and ready wine. Close to the waterfront were the rugged bistros favored by French seamen from the ocean liners. Those were the places where young HG first sampled beef hearts, tete de veau and other innards plus long simmered stews. At the classier (but still economical) bistros near the theaters were where HG first tasted frog legs. HG approached the dish with apprehension. But, culinary curiosity forced HG to order a plate. HG was hooked. Whether cooked a la Provencal (with tomatoes and onions) or sauteed in olive oil with garlic and a sprinkling of paprika, HG always ordered them before proceeding to brains, kidneys or boeuf bourginon. Hard to find on restaurant menus these days (even in Paris). Thus, HG was happy last summer to find frozen frog legs in the fish counter at Sobey’s Supermarket in Charlottetown. HG ate dozens (the sautee version) before being admonished by daughter Lesley R.. Because she is the communications and marketing director for a major health care provider in Rhode Island, she is knowledgeable about the harmful effects of certain foods. Asian frog legs are harvested in dirty, fetid swamps and streams and processed in less-than-ideal environs. Eat at your own risk, said she. HG did admit to some queasiness after a big plate of frog legs. HG believes this was due to Lesley-induced fears plus an overindulgence in vodka. With these fragile justifications in mind, HG picked up a half pound of attractive, fresh frog legs at the Atlantic Superstore in C’town.They were meaty, tender, delicious. No bad after effects. Sadly, all of those cheap and tasty west side French bistros have disappeared. Only one remains, the tiny Chez Napoleon. The women who run it feature all of the classics including frog legs and brains in black butter. The menu is a roll call of old time French good things. Plus, you can get a very good souffle if you order it at the beginning of your meal. Chez Napoleon, long may it reign.

Party Time (and more)

June 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Jolly dinner party at HG/BSK’s PEI oceanfront paradise. In attendance were BSK’s sister Noel M. and her husband, Yossi. Thoughtfully, they brought a load of logs to feed the wood stove during this chilly June. Another guest was beautiful neighbor Leslie F. (she brought a crunchy bar of Lindt Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel which went nicely with red wine at the end of the meal). Appetizers were smoked salmon and peppered smoked mackerel from By the Bay Fish Mart. Main dish was BSK’s fabulous stew of cod, mussels, clams, potatoes, onions, garlic and smoky bacon. Simmered in fish stock and white wine, this was a robust blessing from Prince Edward Island’s coastal waters and ponds. Dessert was pecan butter tarts with scoops of vanilla ice cream. HG augmented this with snifters of Jim Beam bourbon whiskey. All of the mussels couldn’t fit in the pot. So, the next night HG cooked twenty in the style of the excellent Paris seafood (and cognac) restaurant,La Cagouille. Known as “burn your fingers mussels”, the dish is very simple and lush. Mussels are placed in a cast iron pan and cooked over high heat until they open. They are plucked from the heated shells and dipped in melted butter enhanced with lemon juice and hot sauce. (Yes, you can burn your fingers during this process). BSK followed this up with some Island codfish cakes and sauteed mini tomatoes. The accompaniment was local mustard pickles (best ever). Fun meal.

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