Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lobster quest and learning to fry

We're out on the East Coast for a little tour of New England. Of course, that means finding interesting things to eat. We started in Maine, so that meant lobster. Lobster stew, lobster bisque, lobster pie, lobster in phyllo, steamed lobster...and then steamed clams, fried clams, clam chowder, fried haddock. fried scallops...and that was Maine. New Hampshire was just one night, and that was meat loaf at a diner on Main Street in a small town. In Burlington, Vermont, we hung out downtown on the opening night of a jazz festival, and found some good and inexpensive steaks. Best thing so far? A simple lobster stew, at The Lobster Dock in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I asked the owner how it was made, and he said, "Simply." Just a good lobster stock, made with mirepoix and shells, combined with half-and-half, and lobster sauteed in butter until just done and added to the broth. My mouth waters at the memory of it. The most striking thing so far has been the excellent quality of fried seafood we have eaten. I'm talking about the coatings -- light, crispy, and not oily. I had the most amazing fried scallops at Shaw's in the Pemaquod area, the best scallops I've ever eaten anywhere. Over and over I asked the kitchen what they use, and every time part of the answer was "clam fry." What in the heck is clam fry? I scoured grocery stores and found fish fry, clam batter, and various other names for a mixture that includes corn flour and seasonings. So I've picked up six different kinds and will experiment with them when we get home. (Just what we need, another 10 pounds of fish coating to carry along with the grade B maple syrup and blueberry soda I've also picked up.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Restaurant reviews

Our condo complex here has a quarterly newsletter, and I've been contributing short restaurant reviews to it for a while now. I realized the other day that there are a fair number of readers from the Seattle area out there, so they might be more relevant than I originally thought. So I'm going to post some of them up here gradually. And if you read this and you're not from Seattle, maybe you'll visit sometime...or at least maybe I can make you hungry.

Foodie porn

(That headline may get some unsuspecting Googlers, don't you think?) I really do use this blog to capture things that we need to remember, about things I cook and how stuff works, and I don't want to forget this comical moment yesterday: The last time I got a foie gras, I processed part of it into a torchon and put it in the freezer, so we could pull it out and shave thin slices on to hot toast. Last night we got the last of it out to have with some very nice Champagne. Over the course of time, the shaving of the torchon had shaped one end into a rounded point, and the torchon itself was the diameter of a large carrot. It looked, well...phallic. We looked at it lying there on the cutting board, and I told Dave, "That is foodie porn." I thought he was going to fall down, he laughed so hard.

Preserving sweet onions

Okay, first, yes I know I've been distracted to other things lately. I'll try to get you caught up on the past six weeks gradually. But what is on my mind right now is sweet onions. I adore them, but storage is always a challenge. We got a bag at Costco a couple of weeks ago, and today it was "use 'em or lose 'em." So I cut a few of them Lyonnaise style (top to bottom. for crescents) and am cooking them very slowly to get a batch of caramelized onions, which I will freeze and pull out for burgers etc. The rest of them are diced and bagged for the freezer. They'll keep just fine for a while, and though I won't use them fresh they will be great when I want a sweeter mirepoix or am making Indian food. The last bit of them I am using in a casserole today using my homemade chorizo (Oh, yeah, I didn't tell you that I made chorizo for Cinco de Mayo, and also ginger/sage breakfast sausage, because I got pork shoulder for 88 cents a pound!) and some Mexican rice with zucchini and lots of chopped sweet onion. I might even mince up a fresh jalapeno, a couple are ripe in my Aerogarden.