Bittersweet

September 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Farewell dinner. Bittersweet. Great food but bittersweet because everyone (HG daughter Victoria plus SJ and family) left Prince Edward Island in the morning. There were eight at the dining table (BSK’s sister, Noel, and husband, Yossi, joined in the farewell festivities). SJ made blue cheese and miso dips for a platter of raw vegetables (heirloom carrots, radishes, cucumbers from BSK’s garden and cherry tomatoes). This was followed by bowls of BSK’s green tomato soup (HG’s favorite). Multiple levels of flavor with a finale of spicy heat. Main dish was SJ’s fabulous seafood stew of mussels, clams, hake, tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc.. A cumin spiked rouille was a welcome addition. Dessert was SJ’s take on a British trifle: a bowl layered with cardamon-allspice-coconut milk tapioca pudding, crumbled toffee cookies and English custard pudding topped with just-picked blueberries and freshly, made whipped cream. Yes, HG/BSK will miss the company of HG/BSK’s family (though home will be quieter). And, HG/BSK will miss SJ’s inventive culinary delights. There was a nice surprise at dinner. Handsome Haru was promised six oysters. With some brief instruction, he shucked them himself. Expertly. So, next summer HG will join in the daily shucking of oysters. This summer, Haru concentrated (with Teru’s assistance) in shucking corn. All departed at 7AM. But, before leaving, Adorable Teru walked into the HG/BSK bedroom. She was very quiet because she didn’t want to awaken drowsing HG. Kissed HG on the cheek and whispered: “I love you.” HG will always treasure that moment.

Surprise Vicki Visit and The Perfect Meal

August 31st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

A happy surprise. HG’s daughter, Vicki, came to visit Prince Edward Island. Usually, Vicki’s PEI visits have been marred by flight cancellations, late arrivals, weather delays, etc. This time, she was very selective about all the sky conditions and flight times and arrived in Charlottetown punctually and looking bright and beautiful. As noted in many previous posts, Vicki and husband/chef Marc Meyer, own and run four of New York’s best restaurants: Cookshop, Shuka, Vic’s and Rosie’s. A fifth, Shukette, will open soon. Thoughtful Vicki brought to PEI a tin of caviar plus tiny blini (and black licorice for BSK). SJ and family were dining at Noel (BSK’s sister) and Yossi’s Ocean Mist Farm the night Vicki arrived. This enabled HG/BSK and Vicki to have a quiet and serene dinner with a backdrop of a long, colorful sunset. Dinner started with South Lake oysters and progressed to sweet corn on the cub with a finale of spaghettini with cherry tomatoes and sauteed Digby Bay scallops. Salad was local yellow beans in a tangy vinaigrette.

The next night, everyone at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island home contributed to what may have been The Perfect Summertime Meal. The dinner highlighted PEI’s splendid seafood and vegetables as well as delicious imports from New York, Nova Scotia and Great Britain. Handsome Haru and Adorable Teru set the table with all the necessary wine and water glasses. Then, HG shucked two dozen big, meaty, briny Red Head Select oysters. These were consumed at the kitchen bar with chilled white wine and PEI Gin mixed with tonic, a splash of Aperol and mint. The group sat at the dining table and was entranced by Victoria’s gift, a big tin of caviar a accompanied by blini (both from Russ & Daughters in New York). Oh, my!! SJ then served tagliatelle simply adorned with a vivid, lush tomato sauce he created by slowly roasting black grape cherry tomatoes (bought at the Charlottetown Farmers Market). The meal progressed with hake (expertly fried by SJ) and BSK’s salad of PEI yellow beans. Following this was a cheese platter with wonderful cheeses curated by Victoria: A sharp PEI cheddar. Black pepper laden Leicester from Great Britain. A goat triple creme and a blue (both from Nova Scotia). The group munched BSK’s green salad while HG accompanied his cheese with bagel chips (from Russ & Daughters) and scoops of PEI lush buckwheat honey. Many glasses of red wine as the sky erupted in color. Happiness reigned.

Another SJ Culinary Triumph

August 29th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ is a masterful cook who creates dishes with many layers of flavor. Last night SJ defrosted bone-in-skin-on chicken thighs. Browned them in oil and then slowly braised them with roasted tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, white wine, spinach and herbs. The result was juicy chicken and a lush sauce that was used to enhance the side dish of orzo. A triumph. SJ tops HG as a fish fry expert. HG rolls fish fillets in a store bought breading mixture. SJ uses Japanese panko. SJ’s fish are crustier and devoid of any trace of oil. SJ also does a delightful amuse geule of zucchini florets and thin zucchini slices in a batter of flour, water, corn starch and parmesan. SJ learned how to make excellent omelets from his gifted Mom, BSK. One morning, SJ made a western omelet for son Handsome Haru. Chopped onion, green pepper, jalapeno and tomato. Quick saute. Savory omelet filling. On another morning, SJ made corn fritters that utilized the sweet corn kernels from the previous evening’s cobs. Crunchy goodness, Just enough binder to keep the fritters together without blunting the fresh corn taste. On this Prince Edward Island visit, SJ didn’t make his signature chicken gumbo, an HG favorite. Greedy HG will have to wait for next year.

Hot Pot

August 28th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

There are few better meals on a Prince Edward Island summer night than the communal pleasures of Japanese-style hot pot. Earlier in the week, SJ cooked a savory broth from the pork rib bones left over from his smoked BBQ dinner. This bubbled away on the dinner table, heated by a portable gas range. A visit to a Chinese supermarket in Charlottetown produced tofu and thinly sliced meats for the hot pot. SJ added pork belly slices from the freezer. On the table was Savoy cabbage and a number of other local farmers market vegetables. Bowls received spoonfuls of SJ’s sesame and miso based sauce. Wielding chopsticks, the diners cooked their preferences and added them to their bowls. Chopstick manipulation is not one of HG’s table skills, so SJ acted as HG’s waitperson. Hot sauces and other condiments lined the table. When all the meats and most of the vegetables were cooked and eaten, the broth had become enriched and savory. Time to add udon noodles. When cooked al dente they were added to the bowls with ladles of broth. HG gave his bowl a dash of Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce. Heavenly finale to a savory meal. Adding to the pleasure was red wine drunk in generous amounts.

Epic Eating

August 27th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

The farewell dinner for visiting Zena Burns and husband, Richard, was a tribute to overeating. The meal started with a large platter of freshly picked sweet corn. Three ears for every diner. This was followed by steamed soft shell clams dipped in broth and melted butter. Typically, broth is used for a final cleanse of usually sandy soft shells; however, this wasn’t necessary as BSK is expert at clam cleaning. Nary a drop of sand, so HG ended up drinking down the unused (and delicious) briny broth. HG’s tummy was full but the food parade continued to march on. SJ has surpassed HG as a fish fry cook. The SJ expertise was on display with a platter of crisp, grease free, juicy fillets of sole. BSK prepared two salads: Lettuce from the BSK garden with a vinaigrette and feta cheese; Prince Edward Island yellow beans (the best) from the Cardigan Farmers Market. With advancing years, HG’s appetite has remained sharp but HG’s weight and stomach capacity has diminished. Thus, for HG this meal was a true “grand bouffe.” For growing boy Haru, the meal was a snack.

Master of BBQ — Hibachi and Traditional

August 24th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is a barbecue master. These days on Prince Edward Island, SJ is using a hibachi to turn out some delectable food. Last night, Zena Burns and husband, Richard, joined the family for dinner. SJ cut a shoulder of lamb into chunks. Marinated the meat. Strung the chunks on metal skewers with slices of onion and pepper. Glorious kebabs. The lamb, raised on an organic diet, was from BSK’s sister, Noel, and husband, Yossi’s Ocean Mist Farm (located on the southern side of PEI near Panmure Island). Tender goodness. This was preceded by a gluttonous sweet corn extravaganza, two dozen ears from Isaac’s Vegetable Stand in Montague. That’s right, 24 ears for seven people. Reveling in sweet corn season.

The following night Zena B. and Richard invited HG/BSK and SJ (and family) to their rental cottage on the shore of St. Peter’s Bay. (A few miles east of HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island home). Lovely, peaceful water views. A traditional barbecue dinner of cheeseburgers and hot dogs was in the works. Lots of fixings: Sliced onions and tomatoes; shredded lettuce; pickles and at HG’s request, fiery 505 New Mexico Green Chile Sauce. (Ketchup, mustard and relish on the table,of course). SJ was busy at the grill and adorable granddaughter Teru blew giant soap bubbles that wafted over the hundreds of mussels socks dotting the surface of the Bay. Chilled rose and beer were the beverages. (Immoderate HG drank much vodka with beer chasers). This is the type of backyard cookout enjoyed by millions of North American families every summer… Tasty, casual fun.

New Company For Dinner!

August 22nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy days for Handsome Haru, HG/BSK’s grandson. His young woman friend from Brooklyn, Gideon, is in Prince Edward Island with her lovely Mom, Roseanna. Much of Haru and Gideon’s relationship has been on Facetime over the past 2 years (since Haru moved to Japan). Possibly some initial awkwardness in seeing each other in person after long absence. Nevertheless, caring Dad, SJ, did much driving back and forth to the resort (near the Town of Montague) where Gideon and Roseanne were lodged. Swimming in the resort pool, beach frolics and movie watching was the program for the youngsters. Before leaving PEI, Gideon and Mom came to dinner. Gideon is a vegetarian so SJ rose to the occasion by cooking penne with a garlic scape and feta cheese pesto. Fabulous. BSK sauteed a batch of Digby Bay sea scallops to juicy perfection. (Nobody,but nobody, can cook scallops as expertly as BSK). A very pleasant farewell meal.

At Last!

August 20th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Long cold winter on Prince Edward Island followed by a chilly spring and early July. That means sweet corn ripening has been delayed. But, it’s here at last. Hooray!!. BSK bought a dozen ears at Isaac’s Vegetable Stand in Montague. Zena Burns and husband, Richard, are in PEI for a brief visit. (Zena, an expert in the music business, has been a close friend of SJ’s for many decades). They were at dinner with the SJ/HG/ BSK family last night and a steaming platter of the corn was on the table. Heaven. Sweet, crunchy deliciousness. HG ignored butter and salt. PEI corn doesn’t need them. Like PEI oysters, HG prefers. sweet corn unadorned. The corn was followed by SJ’s tomato based soup of cod, mussels, potatoes and bacon. Very flavorful and just a bit fiery. Sweet corn is a tough act to follow, but SJ’s soup was not an anti climax.

Collaboration

August 18th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ and BSK have been collaborating to produce spectacular dinners at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home. SJ made his way to Atlantic Shellfish in Morell and purchased 3 dozen giant Red Head Select oysters. He was concerned at first that the large size might detract from flavor and texture, but he was wrong. These were perhaps the finest oysters that he or HG/BSK have ever tasted. SJ shucked half of them to eat on the half shell; he then grilled the other half on the hibachi for a wondrous treat. SJ has also used the hibachi to produce skewers of spicy Vietnamese-style grilled pork. SJ and BSK did a big platter of haddock based fish cakes (left overs for lunch). Sauteed Digby Bay scallops and many big green salads. BSK’s roasted spatchcocked chicken and small PEI potatoes. Pho with left over chicken, tofu and a variety of vegetables.Steamed soft shell clams with clam broth and melted butter. These have been family dinners. Grandson Haru has contributed a hearty appetite and adorable granddaughter Teru has managed to put away a goodly amount of nourishment. Last night, HG/BSK dined alone (the others were having a pizza feast in Charlottetown). Seemed like a second honeymoon. BSK steamed sole over bok choy and spinach. HG cooked Chinese broad rice noodles with firm tofu (flavored with sesame oil and Sriracha). Drank rose. A happy, quietly intimate meal.

Big Meal. Big Appetites.

August 17th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Lots of folks for dinner. Besides BSK, there was SJ and family (Haru and Teru). Also, Noel and Yossi M. (BSK’s sister and husband). Plus, Adam S., a surprise visitor from New York. Adam is a rock star (Fountains of Wayne) and a composer (An Academy Award nominee). He and SJ have been friends since their infancy. Haru got a special benefit from Adam’s Prince Edward Island visit. Lessons on Haru’s bass guitar (a birthday present). Dinner was an extravaganza orchestrated by SJ. Some days ago, BSK bought three big racks of pork spare ribs at a bargain prices. SJ gave them a rub of cumin, chili powder, salt, paprika, powered garlic, white pepper, dried mustard, brown sugar, and other spices. Improvised a smoker out of an old bbq and cooked for four hours over chunks of smoldering white oak. He also made a large pot of Japanese chicken curry, basmati rice and an unusual side dish of stewed red cabbage mixed with onions, carrots and blazing Scotch Bonnet peppers. HG gazed at this vast array of food and guessed that there would be leftovers for the next week. BSK disagreed. Just wait and see, was the BSK message. The food was fabulous. SJ is a barbecue maser and the ribs were masterpieces. HG concentrated on them and rib bones piled up on the HG plate like a mini-mountain. SJ made barbecue sauce. Not necessary. The ribs needed no adornment. HG was too full to try the chicken or cabbage but HG’s table mates did them justice. Only a small amount of food was left. As usual, BSK was right.