HG is very fond of fried fish. During the summer, HG is a devotee of fish (haddock or cod) at Rick’s Fish and Chips in the town of St. Peter’s (five minute drive from HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home). When resident in New Mexico, HG relies upon Whole Foods for Petrale Sole from the Pacific. This firm fleshed fish is usually available at WF end of the week (HG calls in and order in advance). Dipped in beaten egg and rolled in fish fry seasoning. Then sizzled in hot canola oil. A treat with plenty of lemon juice and a dash of Tabasco. When HG was a journalist more than 60 years ago, a night of heavy boozing climaxed at an after hours coffee shop. Illegally, the shop served vodka and whiskey in coffee cups (to befuddle any lurking authorities). Accompaniment was chunks of cold fried fish covered with grated garlic and hot red pepper. Nice taste treat before retiring to the Russian baths on Second Avenue for steamy therapy. When HG was a college student at City College, he often haunted the streets of Harlem searching out delicious fried catfish sandwiches served on white bread with lemon, Tabasco and tartar sauce. Best fried fish ever were those served (once a summer) at the community hall (also a church and a music venue) in the Ocean Ridge neighborhood of Fire Island, NY. The late “Hobby” Miller was the cook and host. Fish were caught by Hobby and pals hours before in the Atlantic Ocean (Fire Island is a slim barrier beach with the Atlantic to the East and Great South Bay to the West). Hobby dusted the filets with salt and peppered flour and sizzled them in hot lard. Final touch was a splash of vinegar enhanced by hot peppers (a Louisiana condiment). Ice cold beer. Jolly eating. Ah, those balmy Fire Island summers.
Maple syrup is HG’s favorite sweetener and HG uses it in a variety of ways. Breakfast is a bowl of organic corn flakes and milk enhanced with a splash of the syrup. Best dessert is Haagen Dasz vanilla bean ice cream gilded with maple goodness. HG often adds a bit of the maple to a snifter of bourbon for after dinner sipping. In civilized, inclusive, democratic Canada, chefs use maple syrup in a variety of dishes. An HG/BSK favorite is roast sablefish with a maple syrup glaze, a perfect blend of smokiness and sweetness. On Prince Edward Island where HG/BSK spend four months annually at the HG/BSK oceanfront home, local groceries offer a variety of Canadian maple syrups at very affordable prices. In New Mexico, HG/BSK buy their maple syrup at Trader Joe’s. Recently, TJ offered Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. Great stuff, dark and robust as advertised. Items come and go at TJ so HG/BSK hope the addition of this syrup is a permanent fixture.
HG has been reading Adolf Hitler’s biography and am startled (and distressed) how closely Der Trumperer is following the Hitler/Goebbels agenda. Everything is a lie except if pronounced by Der Trumperer and his ludicrous lackeys, Kellyanne and Spicer. There is no truth, only “alternate facts.” Unfavorable polls are “fake.” Unfavorable news is “fake news.” Judges who rule against Der Trumperer’s edicts are not really judges. They are “so called” judges. The media, traditional watchdog of the people, essential in a functioning democracy, is “the opposition”, “corrupt”, “dishonest.” The American intelligence agencies are incompetent unless they agree with Der Trumperer’s views. HG asks the basic question. Are millions of voting Americans racist, homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic, theocratic? If so, they have a leader they can love, one who reflects the dark underbelly of hate in America. Very frightening. HG takes heart from the gestures from abroad. The Speaker of Britain’s House of Commons refusing to let Der Trumperer address Parliament. The march against Islamaphobia on Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island (population 146,000). Some 2,000 people showed up on a bitterly cold day to assert their solidarity with Canada’s Islamic communities. HG/BSK are proud to have their summer home on this gentle island which is dotted with scores of churches. It seems true Christian and humanist principles are alive here.
HG loves grits. There was a time when you had to travel south to get a bowl of grits. Now grits making an appearance on menus all over the USA. Shrimp and grits (An HG favorite) is being devoured at a half dozen Santa Fe eateries. Best ever shrimp and grits were served at Chicago’s Soul Kitchen (closed, alas) and best cheese grits were found up north at the lovely Griswold Inn, Lyme, Conn. HG isn’t snobbish about grits. Enjoys them at Waffle House topped by eggs and flanked by crisp fried potatoes. Quaker Oats Instant Grits provide a quick and pleasant breakfast when adorned with a lump of butter, salt, pepper and a dash of Tabasco. (Don’t sneer. Try it). For some peculiar reason, grits are not sold on Prince Edward Island. Maybe they represent a challenge to the Island’s omnipresent and delicious mineral rich potatoes. So, when HG/BSK voyage to the family summer home on this serene and beautiful Canadian isle, HG/BSK always pack a few bags of Geechie Boy Mill white grits. SJ, a guy who knows what’s good, gifts his parents with this splendid product. Geechie calls its product “Stone Ground Goodness.” Accurate. These grits ascend to heaven when topped by BSK’s perfect poached eggs.
Cod is not only a versatile and tasty fish, it has historic importance. It has been an important commercial fish for six hundred years. Cod fishing has led to maritime strife between nations. It was a food staple of the masses for centuries (Baccala, codfish cakes, fish and chips, codfish chowder remain favorites). Preserved cod (dried or smoked) made long sea voyages of exploration possible since crews could be fed cheaply and nutritiously. You can learn much about Cod by reading “Cod: A biography of the Fish That Changed the World” by Mark Kurlansky“. Sadly, Cod is now an endangered species and its numbers are diminishing daily. Happily, Whole Foods provides a plentiful supply of Icelandic Cod. Relatively inexpensive and very good. When in residence on Prince Edward Island during summer months, HG/BSK sup on Cod caught off the shores of nearby Nova Scotia. BSK is a dab hand with Cod. After marching with a crowd of more than 10,000 in the Women’s March in Santa Fe, BSK picked up some cod at WF. Paused to place it in the refrigerator and then went off to a two hour meeting of environmentalists. Came home to prepare a swift and savory stew of cod, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and fish stock. HG spiked mayonnaise with Sriracha. A dollop in the stew gave it spicy heat. The next night BSK used Cod to make crisp codfish cakes accompanied by a farmhouse onion relish. HG hopes there will be a creamy brandade in the future.
Yes, ice cream. Without question and indubitably, it is the best dessert ever created by humankind. HG reflected on this as HG dove into a dessert of Chapman’s (a Canadian company) Maple Walnut. This used to be a ubiquitous ice cream flavor but is now rarely encountered. Better than the easily available butter pecan. When on Prince Edward Island, HG usually enjoys ADL French Vanilla with a splash of local maple syrup. HG’s son-in-law, the distinguished Profesore Massimo R., gifted HG with a jar of Italian pistachio cream. A small topping of this ethereal substance transports vanilla ice cream to a higher realm. During the early days of HG’s marriage to BSK (Some 53 years ago), BSK introduced hubby HG to a midwestern ice cream dessert: The Tin Roof. Vanilla ice cream with a topping of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and Planter’s Cocktail Peanuts. HG/BSK always indulged in this on summer Sunday nights after returning to Manhattan from sun kissed beach weekends on Fire Island. The combination of creamy, sweet, salty and crunchy was extraordinary. (If you make a Tin Roof be sure to use Planter’s Cocktail Peanuts. Don’t substitute). When at home in New Mexico, HG favors Talenti Gelato (available in a nearby supermarket). Sea Salt Caramel is the best flavor. When in Paris, HG often passes on the pastry desserts in favor of legendary Berthillon ice cream. Very good, but inferior to the sublime ice cream made on the premises at Barney’s, a Rockaway Beach ice cream parlor that flourished in HG’s youth. Was it really that good or is the memory enhanced by HG’s nostalgia?
Wisftul farewell to HG/BSK’s oceanfront paradise on Prince Edward Island’s Gulf of St. Lawrence. As always, it’s been a happy summer enlivened by the presence of Handsome Haru and visits (too short) from other family members. Lots of joyous dining as the winds pick up speed and the leaves begin to turn. Dinner of barbecued lamb and potatoes at Noel and Yossi M.’s Ocean Mist Farm. The delicious lamb was raised by them on an organic diet and received humane treatment. Everything on N. and Y.’s table (tomatoes, peppers, chutney, salsa and the apple crisp dessert) was raised by this remarkable couple. The festive event was echoed two days later by BSK with a meal of buttery mushroom toasts, penne a la amatriciana (from Mario Batali’s Roman recipe). The feast ended with apple pie and a choice of vanilla ice cream (with Sicilian pistachio paste) or maple walnut ice cream. HG/BSK took time off from closing the house chores (admittedly, 98% of the heavy lifting is done by BSK), to dine at two local St. Peters casual landmarks– Rick’s Fish & Chips and Lin’s Takeout. Rick’s steamed local blue mussels (served with a dip of butter,mussel juices and lemon) were sensational–big, plump, juicy, full of sea flavor. Thankfully, last summer’s mussel malaise has ended. Lin’s has the best French fries HG has ever tasted and the generous scallop sandwich is world class. Last PEI meal was at the pretty 21 Breakwater Restaurant in Souris. There are Portuguese touches on the menu (piri piri chicken, Portuguese fish and chips, etc). All tasty. Leave tomorrow for many days of motoring to HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. There will be full reports on HG/BSK’s culinary adventures on the road.
Bad news day. Prince Edward Island’s Guardian newspaper (“Covers the Island Like the Dew”) reported Atlantic Shellfish Products, Inc. has been hit with a recall notice by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The brand’s oysters and quahogs (hard shelled clams) have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. Two of the varieties being recalled are Malpeques and South Lakes. They happen to be summer favorites of HG. Briny and flavorful during the summer while Colville Bay oysters have a tendency to be mild and bland during the summer (Colville Bays are HG/BSK’s choice during months with an “R”). The skilled shuckers at the Inn at Bay Fortune solve the problem by smothering the Colville Bays in a fiery Bloody Mary “slush.” These oyster shooters are fine if you’re fond of Bloody Marys (hard to taste the oysters). HG hopes beautiful PEI begins paying more attention to the destructive chemicals being used by some farmers, PEI is branding itself “The Food Island.”. Aggressive environmental law enforcement will be important to maintain and fulfill this brand’s promise.
In a recent post about solitude on the beach in front of HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island home, HG was guilty (not for the first time) of overstatement. Yes, there are no humans within sight (except for an occasional fishing boat on the horizon) and, thankfully, no autos and their noise and fumes. But, HG is not alone. Toby, The Wonder Dog, is HG’s companion. Toby likes to splash in the sea, race along the bluffs and sniff seaweed, crab shells, etc.. Tiny plover walk the shore, moving swiftly on their skinny legs. Gulls, cormorants and majestic herons are a constant presence. Osprey hover in one spot like helicopters and then dive straight down to snap up their prey. Harrier hawks make an appearance in the afternoon. When HG swims, HG often sees small lobsters scuttling about the bottom. Happily, mosquitoes and flies seem to have abandoned the beach paradise this season.
HG is flexible, not rigid in food opinions. HG is open to change. HG has long disliked cooked beets, finding them inappropriate when drinking red wine. Of course, HG, when young, delighted in HG’s Mom’s summer treat: Ice cold beet borscht with a scoop of sour cream (not accompanied by wine). Since then, HG has turned away all beets (Including BSK’s beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts). Last night, BSK changed HG’s mind. BSK slicked local Prince Edward Island golden beets with olive oil. Gave them a hearty dusting of salt and pepper. Barbecued them on the gas grill. Served sliced with a bit more olive oil and Aleppo pepper, they were a taste treat. Might have something to do with the PEI red earth in which, like the mineral tangy potatoes, they are are cultivated. PEI beets are not sweet. Their taste is unique and they are a pleasing accompaniment to red wine. Other changes in HG’s food preferences: Once despised turnips but now loves the tiny New Mexico turnips that are wonderful raw or roasted. Once attacked Philadelphia cheese steaks and soft pretzels with mustard as repellent. Now gobbles them up whenever in the City of Brotherly Love.