July 17th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Warm, sunny days (with a hint of sea breeze) on Prince Edward Island give HG a preview of his eventual destination: Heaven. HG/BSK have been walking along the shore, splashing in the the water (The sea is warming up) and adding to the family’s ever growing collection of beach glass. HG’s current beach reading is The Yid, a funny, bitter, surreal novel by Paul Goldberg, a Russian emigre. (SJ gets the book when HG finishes). Days have ended with hot, outdoor showers. Cocktail of the week has been an HG invention: one third gin, two thirds dry vermouth, a few drops of Boker’s Bitters. (HG has done a previous post, “A BITTER DISCOVERY”, about magical Boker’s, created in 1828 New York). While drinking, HG has been listening to Pierre Fournier, the suave cellist, playing unaccompanied Bach suites. (Son in law Profesore Massimo R. introduced HG/BSK to Fournier). Dinner (BSK made enough for two nights) has been an Indian eggplant and green onion curry from Vikram Vij’s cookbook. HG cooked Garafalo orzo (Garafolo is world’s best packaged pasta), mixed it with a can of Indian black lentils and enhanced the dish with Garam Masala spice. A cooling salad of cucumber, radish, lemon juice, olive oil and a touch of the Middle East: Greek yogurt dusted with Zaatar. Delicious cross cultural dining.


Celestial Pickles

July 11th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Among the splendors of Prince Edward Island are mustard pickles, hand crafted by local women. Tangy, slightly sweet, slightly hot. Utterly delicious. They are the perfect companion to a dish of fish cakes. BSK fried up a batch of cakes last night. Ingredients: Cooked fresh cod and cooked PEI potatoes (spuds only hours out of the red soil); grated Vidalia onion, beaten eggs, bread crumbs and loads of chopped herbs. Lush and moist on the inside. Crisp and golden on the outside. BSK made the meal perfect by stir frying a bunch of sugar snap peas with chopped garlic scapes. While PEI mustard pickles are BSK’s favorite condiment, BSK is also addicted to Bubbie’s Pickles, both sour, garlicky dills and bread and butter slices. (With economy in mind, the lady also knocks off scores of dills from Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in New Mexico and Sobey’s in PEI.) In HG’s youth, the young man favored sour dills plucked from a barrel in Bronx neighborhood “appetizing” stores. Walking home from school, HG would pick up some (five cents each) for family dinner and as a side for HG’s after school snack: Pumpernickel bread with chicken fat and kosher salt. Properly energized, HG would then be off for an afternoon of sandlot football or baseball. The world’s best kosher dill pickles were sold from outdoor barrels at Guss’ Pickles on Orchard just south of Delancey in the Lower East Side. Alas, gone in the wave of gentrification.


Food Island

June 29th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The Prince Edward Island tourism folk are trying to entice foodies to visit. They are calling PEI “The Food Island” and pointing out that after a sunny day of biking, beach walking and swimming, much good food awaits. Yes, PEI oysters are great; mussels are renowned; fresh sea scallops, clams (hard and soft shell) abound;fishing boats pull into Naufrage Harbor (a few miles from HG/BSK’s oceanfront home), laden with cod, hake, haddock, mackerel and sole. There’s superb tuna during its season. (Alas, the majority is shipped to Japan). A score of boats pluck lobsters from traps a few hundred yards from HG/BSK’s shore. (June is the season. After that, lobster arrive daily from Nova Scotia). Excellent organic lamb, beef and free range chicken is raised on PEI. There is tasty pork, ham, bacon and sausages produced from local pigs. Local cheese makers and bakers are offering world class products. Smoked salmon and peppered smoked mackerel are Island specialties. The characteristic red soil is famous for potatoes and the variety of local greens, lettuces, herbs, etc. is vast. Blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes and corn will soon be harvested. (HG/BSK eagerly await). Local shops display scores of natural jams and jellies plus outstanding mustard pickles. The restaurant scene is improving. Creative young people are opening places and in the PEI capital, Charlotteown, there are good Vietnamese, sushi and Indian restaurants. HG is yet to try the dim sum being offered at a little Szechuan bistro. Happily, excellent beer and ale, Gahan’s, is brewed locally. Myriad View distills fine gin, vodka, pastis and whiskey. The culinary abundance has made HG/BSK confirmed locavores. HG/SK’s son-in-law Marc Meyer, the renowned New York chef (Cookshop, Hundred Acres, Rosie’s, Vic’s) has been a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement. HG/BSK are following Marc’s lead.


Summer. At Last

June 21st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Been windy, rainy and cold on Prince Edward Island. Beautiful vistas of whitecaps. Invigorating salt air. But, Br-r-r-r. Big time turnaround today. Sun. Blue skies. Summer time. HG/BSK visited the Charlottetown Farmers Market. Much improved and expanded. Big seafood counter with young guys shucking oysters, making lobster rolls, grilled scallops wrapped in bacon. Lots of other good things including lobster quiche. Of course, The Gouda Lady is selling her incomparable cumin and fenugreek gouda plus other cheeses. The Taylor’s group is doing brisk business selling a variety of grilled sausages topped with mustard relish or fried onions or sauerkraut. BSK picked up some of their organic chopped pork and Black Forest ham. BSK’s favorite veggie man had sugar snap peas, mushrooms and pea shoots. HG stood between two stands. One dispensing Chinese chicken egg rolls and the other freshly made pierogis, stuffed with mashed potatoes and covered in sour cream. A quandary. HG chose the pierogi, the best ever. Then, it was off to the beach in front of HG/BSK’s oceanfront home. Toby, The Wonder Dog, was in ecstasy. He frolicked in the sea, rolled in the sand, checked out the remains of washed up lobsters. Pooch heaven. HG/BSK walked, waded, picked up beach glass for the family’s vast collection. HG absorbed much sun while reading Adam Gopnik, HG’s favorites essayist. Hot shower (outdoors). Vodka and Aperol before dinner (Ma Po Tofu, utilizing Taylor’s pork). Drank splendid Gahan’s PEI ale. After dinner, drank Bagaco, a local marc, while watching the long lingering sunset (it sets until 10 PM) and listening to Scarlatti (as interpreted by Neville Marriner and the St.John’s in the Field chamber orchestra; Jessye Norman; Blossom Dearie. A perfect day.


A Wistful Farewell to PEI

September 20th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

All good things (and, thankfully, bad things) must come to an end. And, so HG/BSK and Toby, The Wonder Dog, are wistful as they say farewell to Prince Edward Island. A saving grace as HG/BSK and Toby motor to Riverside, R.I., is that Toby will have a chance to romp with Pip, the Riva family’s talented dog. And, HG/BSK will join in a birthday party for Brilliant Granddaughter Arianna. The site will be Los Andes, a great Peruvian restaurant (HG has praised it in a recent post). Looking forward to New Mexico and the colorful turning leaves of autumn; swims in HG/BSK’s heated indoor pool; seeing the fish gambol in the Koi pond; watching light flicker and change across the Barrancas (colorful cliffs and mesas). Much of New Mexico’s air will be scented by roasting chilies and BSK will make good use of them in flavorful dinners as piƱon logs blaze in the fireplace. These last days on PEI have been busy with a variety of household chores, packing, etc. HG said goodbye to Gladys and Sheryll, the gracious ladies of By the Bay Fish Mart, who keep HG/BSK supplied with good things from the sea throughout the PEI summer. HG/BSK ate a big platter of By the Bay’s Malpeque oysters. (These will be much missed. Both for their taste and modest price.) Had a very good (and very big) piece of fried haddock and crisp fried onions at Rick’s Fish and Chips in St. Peters. HG had been concerned that Rick’s might be going downhill but it seems to have recovered its mojo. HG will miss PEI seafood but will be consoled by menudo and a host of other Northern New Mexico treats. Tonight, HG/BSK will dine at the delightful 21 Breakwater Restaurant in Souris. In the meantime, off to the Land of the Brave, Free and Trump (plus many other Republican dimwits and lunatics).


Himalayan Curry

August 26th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Except for an occasional bit of fried fish at Rick’s Fish and Chips or a scallop sandwich at Lin’s takeout (both in St. Peters, Prince Edward Island), HG/BSK confine their dining to sumptuous home meals of fresh fish, bivalves and local vegetables. So, last night was a special, unfamiliar treat. HG/BSK drove into Charlottetown for dinner at Himalayan Curry, a restaurant serving “authentic Indian food.” HG/BSK’s expectations were not high. There’s wonderful food on PEI (see the article on PEI culinary adventures in the Sunday, August 2 Travel section of the New York Times). However, good ethnic dining of the Asian variety is very rare. HG/BSK’s optimism was raised when they entered Himalayan Curry and found the small restaurant filled with happy diners, including an Indian family (ten people of all ages). Things continued to look up as BSK sipped nicely chilled pinot grigio and HG drank Corona Mexican beer from a frosty glass. Crisp, greaseless papadums were devoured. The sweet young waitperson brought a platter of Momo, Tibetan dumplings that were dipped in a flavorful sauce. Excellent. They then had butter chicken (hotly spiced for HG), chicken tikka, saag paneer (spinach and cheese), excellent potato stuffed naan, fluffy rice, raita, chutney, mixed pickles. Tasty stuff. Very appropriate for a warm summer night. No, this wasn’t the kind of great Indian food one finds in London. Michelin is not going to adorn HC with stars. But the service is sweet, the room is comfortable, the food is made with fresh ingredients. Quite pleasant and a nice change for HG/BSK.

2014-10-03-09-49-46-pei immigrant

PEI Bivalves

August 25th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Among the pleasures of summer on Prince Edward Island is the abundance of excellent bivalves–oysters, clams, scallops and mussels. Prices of these good things are much lower than in the United Sates. And, they are just-caught, right-off-the-boat fresh. While two of SJ and EM’s Brooklyn pals (with three lively kids) were visiting PEI, a festive dinner of bivalves fed the group. First course was Malpeque oysters shucked by HG. These were a revelation. They tasted like the very best Fines de Claire HG had consumed at Paris brasseries. HG usually favors Colville Bay oysters in the fall and late summer (they are a bit milky from spawning during mid-summer) or Savage Bay oysters, plump and mild. Malpeques are now first choice. They have long been the oyster most exported from PEI. At a 1900 food exhibition in Paris, they were awarded a prize as the world’s best tasting oyster (the flavorful guys haven’t gone downhill since then). BSK grilled some of the oysters on the barbecue (Modest disagreement. BSK and EM love grilled oysters. HG demurs). Earlier in the day, there was clamming on the shore of St. Mary’s Bay. The Brooklyn group learned fast and some 54 quahog were dug. They were steamed with four pounds of mussels. All of the bivalve juices enhanced BSK’s savory sauce of olive oil, garlic, onions, herbs, etc. Mussels, clams and sauce topped perfectly al dente Garofalo linguine. A caveat from HG. The mussels were disappointing. The flavor was pleasant but the mussels were tiny, a far cry from the plump juicy mussels that have long been a PEI signature. What has happened? The long, harsh winter? Ecological changes in St. Peters Bay and other mussel farming locales? HG hopes conditions change so the mussels return to their former splendor.


Fun Fried Treats

August 11th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

When you are on Prince Edward Island you are rarely far from excellent fried fish, French fried potatoes or crisp, deep fried onion rings. Rick’s Fish & Chips in St, Peters is (HG kids) the three star Michelin choice for these goodies. But, fear not, one can find worthy competitors all over the Island. There’s Wicked Fries, a food truck that appeared this year in Morrell, which has “awesome” fries (according to grandson Handsome Haru) and a fairly remarkable burger sourced from local PEI beef (according to SJ). There’s another truck in Montague Harbor where HG/BSK have had exemplary fried fish sandwiches with French fries and house made tartar sauce. There’s another French fry food truck in Charlottetown that lurks near a complex of big box retailers. Always busy so they must be doing something right. HG/BSK live nine months of the year in New Mexico where tacos and burritos are rarely out of reach. You can grab them from food trucks, garner them from drive ins or eat them in restaurants. They are good, better or sublime. If they are inferior the purveyor is rapidly out of business. In Paris, there seems to be a crepe stand outside of every Metro station. These are not favored by HG who prefers the superb galettes or crepes at creperies like Breizh Cafe in the Marais neighborhood. In Vancouver, B.C., where HG/BSK lived (part time) for ten years, there were score of sushi joints. Every bench in the numerous parks or on busy avenues seemed to be occupied by beautiful young women eating sushi and chatting gaily with their friends. Philadelphia, which has always seemed to HG to be a highly eccentric city, is dominated by the soft pretzel. This doughy, heavily salted baked good (or bad) is heavily dosed in mustard and enjoyed by the multitudes. Go figure.


The Fortunate One

August 9th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

HG did some contemplation today and came to the conclusion that HG is a very fortunate senior citizen (love that euphemistic, condescending description). For much of the year, HG is surrounded by HG’s children and grandchildren. (Happily, BSK is omnipresent). Collectively, they are an endearing group. They amuse HG and are amused by HG. They don’t take the old gent too seriously and take HG’s old fart eccentricities with equanimity. Fortunately, they share HG’s love of food and drink. (However, they are not vodka and brandy addicts but do enjoy wine and beer). After a perfect day on the Prince Edward Island beach and sea (the water was seasonally warm, almost Floridian in its temperature) the clan knocked off an evening meal that stressed the local specialties. Lesley R.(with assistance from sous chefs BSK and EM) prepared a big stew of mussels, quahogs (hard shell clams), spicy PEI sausage, tomatoes and herbs. Served over capellini with plenty of good bread to soak up the juices. BSK dressed a lovely green salad and Massimo R. presented a platter of local and maritime province cheeses. Red wine. The two charming dogs, Pip and Toby, gamboled about. The setting sun presented a palette of extraordinary shapes and colors. Did HG mention that HG is “fortunate”? That is a profound understatement.


From The Sea And Sand to the Table

August 4th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

There is something very heartening about dining on food you’ve planted, harvested or caught. There is nowhere better to do this type of foraging than Prince Edward Island. There, abundance describes “found foods”. On yesterday’s grey Prince Edward Island morning, SJ, Gorgeous Granddaughter Sofia and Handsome Haru drove to a harbor near Panmure Island and fished for mackerel. Garnered a dozen gleaming beauties. Later in the day, HG/BSK, Exquisite Maiko, darling little Teru joined them at Noel and Yossi M.’s nearby home. They were greeted by the baa-baa sounds of three adorable sheep (much admired by Teru). After examining the lettuce crop, the cherry trees and unearthing a gigantic horseradish root, the group was off to gather quahogs (hard shelled clams) from the shore of St. Mary’s Bay. Some of the group dug into the shoreline with clam rakes. HG/BSK, veterans of many years of clam hunting in Long Island’s Great South Bay off Fire Island, simply wriggled their toes in the muddy shore bottom. The seasoned HG/BSK toes could feel the difference, when they hit a hard object, if it was a clam or a rock. The collective effort produced some 30 clams. Tea and butter tarts at the M. residence. Back home with the catch the group was met by Adam S. (noted composer, Academy Award Nominee and founder of the power pop group Fountains of Wayne and SJ’s close friend since infancy). With Adam were his two young daughters; sister Laurie and her son and daughter, Handsome Haru acted as host of the younger set and took them off to explore bluffs and beach. The elders devoted themselves to vodka, tequila, white wine and laughter. EM got busy with mackerel. Fileted the fish with her usual expertise and saved some of them (preserved with salt) for later grilling For dinner, EM chopped some filets for her superb tataki and marinated some slices with onions and cherry tomatoes. A fabulous way to start dinner. The rest of the folk got busy with clams, scrubbing them clean, steaming and then chopping the big clams and cooking the smaller ones in a savory sofrito of clam juice, white wine, garlic and parsley. The sauce and clams adorned Garofalo linguine which the table of nine adults consumed with gusto. The younger set dined at the sun porch table on penne with oil, garlic and parmesan. Many happy and loud sounds were heard from that vicinity. The adult table was quieter but equally joyous. A glorious sunset added to the merriment.


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