Blum’s Corn

September 25th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

For the last ten Prince Edward Island summers, HG/BSK and family have consumed scores upon scores of local, seasonal sweet corn on the cob. Most of it has come from Blum’s, a fresh corn farmer working from a truck in the Town of Montague. For years, BSK exchanged corn cooking lore with the woman who sold the good stuff. She’s been replaced by an efficient gent. No chat. BSK, a midwestern corn maven, has been concerned about Blum’s. Early ears were a bit gummy, lacking the champagne-pop and sweetness of Blum’s usual variety. However, Blum’s has made a dramatic turnaround. Back to scrumptious. HG/BSK have discovered that two (or two and a-half) ears make a complete meal (when washed down with lots of red wine, of course). HG/BSK tummies have shrunk in maturity. Can’t knock off burgers in traditional American fashion after a corn feast. HG/BSK now follow their corn gluttony with a modest salad. If there’s left over corn, corn pancakes for breakfast or the kernels are added to BSK’s splendid fish/clam/mussel/bacon/potato/herb chowder. Corn pudding may also be in the future.

Easy Pho

September 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Atlantic Super Stores in Prince Edward Island provide the means for a big, hearty, convenient, easy (and cheap) bowl of Vietnamese Pho for HG’s lunch as summer retreats and autumn brings cool and crisp days. The supermarket always has containers of Pho broth in stock (as well as Ramen broth and Thai Tom Yum.) Few things are better than watching the whitecaps from the wall of windows in HG/BSK’s oceanfront PEI paradise. That’s the visual delight. Pho is the culinary delight. Yo Yo Ma on the sound system is the auditory delight. HG heats the Pho broth to the boiling point. In another pot filled with boiling water, HG cooks rice vermicelli noodles (they are done in three minutes and get a rinse of cold water to stop the cooking). The noodles go into the pot with firm tofu, a few leaves of spinach (or watercress), bean sprouts. Flavored with sesame oil and chili oil. Topped with chopped scallions. Green tea to drink. With the Ramen broth, HG will add poached and shredded chicken breast. Tom Sum will get a few Tiger Shrimp (sorry, allergic BSK). Are these store bought broths the equal of those long simmered wonders in Vietnamese and Thai restaurants? Well, no. But, they are very good and HG will continue happy home slurping.

Canadian Health Care

September 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is a very lucky guy. HG possesses a Canadian Health Card. That means HG is eligible for the efficient, professional, timely (and free) Canadian health system The contrast with Der Trumperer’s ludicrous American health system is laughable. Here’s today’s example. HG has had an annoying cold and persistent night time cough for some weeks. HG has COPD. This means HG is always alert to the possibility of pneumonia. (Last attack put HG in a London hospital). So, thoughtful BSK called the Montague, Prince Edward Island, medical clinic and made an appointment yesterday for HG to see a doctor. Quick answer. Appointment this morning. No waiting. Met the usual (for PEI) caring and professional nurse and doctor. Thorough check of all symptoms, health history and vital health issues (oxygen intake, blood pressure, breathing, etc.). This was followed by diagnosis, prescriptions, actions to be taken. Among other things, HG will be enrolled in PEI’s COPD “Action Program” which offers speedy treatment for COPD sufferers. The prescriptions cost $18 (US). No charge for anything else. The despicable Republicans in the “democracy” south of Canada continue to attack Canada’s universal health care system as over-burdened, inefficient, impersonal, etc. HG can only contrast today’s experience in Canada with what would have occurred under similar circumstances in HG’s home town of Santa Fe. Despite the fact that Santa Fe is more efficient and manageable than the large American cities, there would have been a massive cluster of phone calls, delays, long waits, etc. HG would not have seen HG’s family doctor for weeks and it would be months before seeing a COPD specialist. Lucky if HG got ten minutes of their time. And. Medicare and health insurance cost HG/BSK more than $10,000 a year. O, Canada !! Maple Leaf Forever !!

Nova Scotia

September 20th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Yes, Nova Scotia is the “spiritual” home of the wonderful cold-smoked salmon — beloved by New Yorkers — known as “Novy.” HG/BSK buy Novy at By the Bay Fish Mart in St. Peters, Prince Edward Island. Very inexpensive. HG/BSK dine on many pounds during their stay on the Island. On a clear day, you can see Nova Scotia from PEI’s beaches. The province produces many good things. HG’s pre-dinner drink always has a base of Blue Lobster Vodka produced by Nova Scotia Spirit Co. It’s the best and at 80 proof carries a wallop. (The spirit has won many international prizes). BSK’s favorite cheese is Feta produced in Aylesford, Nova Scotia, by Holmestead. The company’s motto is “Far away taste made here at home.” The Feta is crafted using traditional hands-on artisanal techniques to produce an authentic Mediterranean taste evocative of Greek and Bulgarian Feta. BSK stuffs omelets with the cheese and showers BSK’s salads of home grown tomatoes and cucumbers with this flavorful Feta. HG/BSK have happy memories of dining at Maple, a great restaurant (long closed) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The chef was Michael Smith who went on to renown as the host of a Canadian TV cooking program. Currently, he and his wife own and run the beautiful Inn at Bay Fortune on PEI. As expected, the cuisine is extraordinary. HG/BSK and family have enjoyed his special multi-course feasts where everything but the freshly shucked (all you can eat) Colville Bay oysters, is cooked over wood fires.

White Lightning

September 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG refers to moonshine, the original North American whiskey. It is un-aged and typically distilled from corn. Powerful (usually 100 proof but as high as 190 proof).  Clear and colorless (since it is not aged it  doesn’t acquire the color of whiskey aged for a lengthy period in oak barrels). Moonshine was brought to the New World by Scotch and Irish immigrants and was illegal in the United States until 2010. From 1900 to 1948, Prince Edward Island was a completely dry province and moonshine became a big business both on the island and smuggling it into the US during Prohibition. The moonshine tradition has remained strong even after the “dry laws” were repealed. There are now hundreds of amateur/illegal distillers on the island alongside professionals like the Myriad View Distillery (who made the move from bootlegging to respected business in 2010). Basically, PEI people love the taste of moonshine, they hate paying taxes and they have a “propensity” for smuggling. Dinner last night at Ocean Mist Farm, home of BSK’s sister, Noel, and husband, Yossi. Some weeks ago, Noel gifted a neighbor with some bales of straw and, in return, was given a big mason jar of home-distilled moonshine. Following a sumptuous meal of Noel’s hummus, Yossi’s smoked trout, Island sweet corn on the cob, Ocean Mist peppers stuffed with chopped lamb (also from Ocean Mist) and a dessert of rice pudding,  HG had a blast of moonshine. Since HG preceded this with pre-dinner vodka, dinner red wine and post dinner Bagaco, the excellent Portuguese marc produced by PEI’s Matos Winery (this was a generous gift to HG  from thoughtful Yossi), HG feared the White Lightning might send HG to oblivion, No fear. HG managed to stay sober (moderately) and made the walk to the automobile for return home without assistance. Hardy old guy.

Chanterelles

September 18th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

A lucky meeting. HG, pockets jingling with beach glass after a long walk on the beach off Prince Edward Island’s Maclaren Road, spotted a familiar figure near the beach entrance. It was Winfried S., the distinguished Swiss publisher. HG/BSK met Winfried and wife a few years ago. Charming couple. Publishers of the German translations of Donna Leon’s Venetian detective novels. At the time, they were vacationing at one of the chalets on Maclaren Road and they had returned. Winfried, now retired, is a consultant to various publishers and was soon leaving for the Frankfurt Book Fair. He told HG that the field around his chalet was filled with chanterelle mushrooms. And, he made a lovely offer: Drive to the entrance of the cluster of chalets, and he would give HG/BSK some bags of freshly picked mushrooms. Happy HG. Chanterelles are HG’s favorite fungus (morels are the runner up). HG/BSK drove home with a very large amount of these good things. BSK cooked a bunch of them with chopped onions and herbs plus a generous hunk of butter and white wine. Mixed them with orzo and served them as an accompaniment to roast spatchcocked chicken (a BSK signature dish). The chanterelles were earthy, fragrant with a subtle spiciness. Joyous meal.

Condiment Madness

September 18th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK’s brilliant daughter, Lesley R. glanced inside HG/BSK’s refrigerator and exclaimed: “There are so many condiments, you have no room for food.” True. HG has rarely met a condiment he doesn’t like. In the fridge were Kalamata olives, Bubbie’s bread and butter pickles; French cornichons, preserved lemons, hot and mild jarred peppers. For Indian cuisine: Major Grey’s Chutney and sour mango pickles. For Mexican cuisine: Salsas and chile sauce ranging from mild to super hot. Also, fresh pico de gallo. For Japanese cuisine: Pickled ginger, bulldog sauce, wasabi. For Chinese cuisine: Hoisin sauce, sambal oelek; garlic and chile sauce, oyster sauce. For Vietnamese cuisine: Nuoc cham and fish sauce. And, the traditional staples: mustard (four types); Heinz ketchup and Hellman’s Mayonnaise. This list is from memory. HG may have missed a few condiments. As is customary among youngsters, youthful HG slathered many dishes with ketchup. These days, HG uses it only when mixed with mayo to make Russian dressing. BSK uses Dijon mustard for salad dressing and HG utilizes it to accompany sausages. (A PEI woman makes an outstanding horseradish mustard, a BSK favorite with pork dishes). Yellow delicatessen mustard is only useful when spread on the occasional frankfurter.

Greek Yogurt

September 16th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

It was an auspicious day when thick, flavorful Greek yogurt appeared on supermarket shelves. It is now a staple of HG/BSK’s culinary arsenal. HG breakfasts often on a bowl of Greek yogurt (sweetened with a dash of Canadian maple syrup) and fruit. Currently, while residing on Prince Edward Island, mixes the yogurt with sliced peaches and nectarines from a family farm in Ontario or local blueberries. During summer months, HG’s choice is sweet and juicy PEI strawberries. Great, healthy way to start the day. When at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home, the favored yogurt brand is Fage. Here on PEI, the brand is Liberte, produced in Montreal. HG/BSK usually have a side dish of yogurt with lamb dishes. HG flavors the yogurt with olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon juice. HG becomes spice intensive when yogurt is served with Shakshuka, the epic Israeli egg dish. Besides the essential trio of olive oil, crushed garlic and lemon juice, HG adds cumin, sumac, zaatar and smoked Spanish paprika. Recently, HG made a pleasant discovery. Liberte produces a coconut flavored yogurt. It contains lots of coconut flakes and is moderately sweet. The perfect diet conscious alternative to ice cream.

Bittersweet Autumn

September 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Tiny touches of color are beginning to adorn the trees on Prince Edward Island. The population is shrinking as tourists, summer renters and cottage owners leave. Some businesses will close until spring of 2019. By the Bay Fish Mart, source of many happy HG/BSK seafood meals, closed for the season today. But, before it shuttered HG/BSK scored a pound of their excellent sole. BSK gave it a savory treatment (learned from her chef daughter-in-law, Exquisite Maiko). The firm filets were sauteed/steamed on a bed of spinach, bok choy, garlic and ginger. Canola oil and white wine provided the necessary moisture. This is one of HG’s favorite dishes. Light, satisfying, flavorful. Tonight it was served with rice noodles (rice sticks) and dry fried string beans. As is HG’s custom, the fiery spice lover enhanced everything with dashes of chili oil and sriracha. Noodles got a hit of sesame oil. September weather has been crisp and sunny. Sleep under many blankets. Though it’s bittersweet saying a seasonal good bye to the businesses that have served HG/BSK with typical Island warmth and friendliness, HG/BSK are joyous that they have many more PEI autumn days to enjoy together.

Brasserie Meal

September 12th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

There are fewer culinary experiences better than dining in a brightly lit, lively, traditional Paris brasserie. Alas, a decade ago some of Paris’ most iconic brasseries — Bofinger, Julien, Flo, Balzar, Le Vaudeville — were taken over by budget-conscious, bottom-line focused chain operators. Needless to say, they went into sharp decline, losing their luster. Only Le Stella and Brasserie Ile d’Saint Louis kept the old standards alive. (Chez Jenny is still very good but it’s a one trick pony. Choucroute in various guises). Happily, the esteemed Parisian food writer Alex Lobrano reports that Le Vaudeville has new management, a refurbished art deco interior and superior cuisine. Small plates to share are a pleasant innovation. Its return to goodness is happy news, indeed. Cool autumn weather on Prince Edward Island (it will warm up next week). Responding to chill, HG/BSK will prepare a Chez Jenny meal tonight. Malpeque oysters on the half shell (no brasserie meal worth eating can begin without oysters or bulots or both). Main dish will be choucroute (of course) with local kraut, bratwurst, weisswurst and kassler ripchen. (BSK does wonders with sauerkraut). Much mustard on the table plus BSK’s home jarred dill pickles. Great local Gahan’s ale to drink. No Paris desserts like ile flottante, chocolate mousse, rhum baba with whipped cream, tarte tatin. HG/BSK will have to make do with local French Vanilla ice cream, sliced Canadian peaches and Canadian maple syrup. Maple Leaf forever!!!