Friday, May 27, 2011

I highly recommend this book.

I recently finished In the Heart of the Sea – The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex.

This book sat next to my bed for several months. I never wanted to start it. Then one day I opened it and I could hardly put it down. It's the true story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick, about a ship from Nantucket that sails around South America in search of sperm whales. The crew members, about 6 to a small boat that launches off the main ship, catch these huge whales – 65 feet long and weighing on average 60 tons (120,000 pounds!) – which they then chop up into slabs and boil down the blubber, harvesting the oil.

The statistics in this book are mind-boggling. Just the details about the whaling industry (not to mention life in general) in the 1800s are fascinating. But then the story gets more impossible when main boat gets attacked by an 85 foot, possibly 80 ton whale. As it sinks, the men are stranded in 3 of the whaling boats, which I think were only 21 feet long, floating in the vast Pacific ocean.

I seriously don't know if I'll ever be able to complain about being thirsty again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cinco (Siete) de Mayo.

This party is a fun little "anniversary" of sorts. Besides the hosts, Eric and Kris, & Katy and Steve, it's the only time a year I see the other 20 or so other guests, and it's always interesting to catch up with them. I so love this now "tradition" and look forward to it again just about the minute it's over. Interestingly, now over the past two years, I've been reminded that altho we complain about it year after year, it really never is warm at the the beginning of May. Thinking back there's always a chill on the deck when we step outside, but the flowers are blooming and the Japanese maple always looks incredible. And even tho it was kind of raining, it was the perfect day for a party, and it's always a perfect day to eat some good food!

But let me back-track a second because prior to the party, I was given a very important assignment: Eric asked me to visit El Milargro at about 26th and California to pick up the chips and tortillas straight from the source. It was like a total different world down there. I want to go back and have dinner! But, going to the little store front and picking out tortillas from boxes on palettes on the floor (still warm) plus the chips everyone loves so much was a mini-adventure. The best part? 10 dozen tortillas and 4 bags of chips was only $9!!

Back to the party... There is always an assortment of beverage choices. Last year the hibiscus margarita made a debut, and I am happy to say there was a repeat performance (thankfully for my head, I learned a lesson and limited myself to only 2 instead of 30). Something made that a little easier... New to the mix was a melon horchata (like a cantaloupe juice, including blending the seeds which added a creamy consistency, and I believe maybe sugar and rice water?) that you could enjoy plain or with rum (with rum!). Super tasty.

Three different kinds of salsa (tomatillo, chipotle, and pasilla), plus a cucumber salad/relish/topping and chipotle relish. All great on chips (or tacos later).

The guacamole was amazing, but the second batch added a new twist. Eric blended in smoked salmon. I didn't think I'd like it but guess what? Delish!

The real visual stunner for me were the short ribs, prettily wrapped in banana leaves and cooked indirectly over the coals as well as steamed by their own juices dripping into a pan underneath outside on the grill. These were just as pretty to look at as taste.

Unwrapped short ribs.

The roasted pobano peppers, onions and cream is a crowd favorite. My favorite last year, I was glad to see it again.

This chicken might look pretty ordinary on the grill. I have no clue what he did to this thing. It was, truly, the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth chicken I have ever eaten. This might be my second favorite thing I tasted all day. I was kind of bummed I got so full off the chips and everything else before I tried it, stupidly thinking, Eh, chicken? I went back for seconds even though I was totally stuffed.

Skirt steak, chicken and at the top there, the short ribs now off the bone for making tacos. There were chopped onions, cilantro, all the salsas and toppings, queso fresco, etc. to create your own combinations on lightly grilled corn tortillas.

That up there? Now, I'm not a dessert person. At all. Savory for me always wins... but this was my FAVORITE thing I tasted all day. What you're looking at is strawberries, bananas, plums and pecans, sauteed in butter and TEQUILA, and was served over homemade SOUR CREAM ice cream!! It was to die for! There was also chocolate chipotle ice cream, with chunks of chocolate covered chipotle peppers in it. Ridiculous.

What a great party. We missed Katy and Steve this year. That kid and all. But new to the crowd was my friend Sara who I have a feeling will be wanting to come back next year.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Affordable Art Fair - NYC.

This weekend is the AAF in NYC. My friend Liz Jaff is exhibiting with Kris Graves Project group, Booth A6. I wish I could be there.

If you happen to be reading this and you'll be in NYC this weekend, Go! And take pictures Ruth!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fried Fish.

So I've really been daydreaming about a good, old school fish fry. Mostly I've been thinking about how we used to go to The Big Foot Inn or Bayshore Lodge on our way to Lake Geneva for Friday Night Fish Fry when I was a kid – when I was a kid and absolutely HATED this ritual. Those long dinners with family friends were 90% begging for quarters to play video games... And I thought the fish was "gross".

Anyway, it suddenly dawned on me that I had some frozen fish, bread crumbs and oil at home, so why not make my own fish fry? This version is not the same as the thick-shelled, beer-battered kind I've been craving, and not nearly as good, but suddenly I was now daydreaming of a slice of light rye bread with a layer of butter folded over a fresh piece of fried walleye from shore lunch.

Hands down, the very best way to eat fried fish is to catch it in the morning, filet it on the shore, and cook it in an enormous cast iron skillet over an open fire outdoors for lunch. Even though it's already fried in oil, I always coat the bread in butter. The butter melts wonderfully into the bread, but the combo also prevents you from burning the hell out of the roof of your mouth when you can't wait to take a bite out of the piping hot fish. Holy Yum. When we go fishing in Canada, this is lunch every day for a week and I absolutely NEVER get sick of it.