Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Luscious Lobster In Nova Scotia

I recently flew to Nova Scotia, Canada to participate in a photography workshop given by Bryan Peterson but, truth be told, I was eagerly awaiting the taste of lobster. The workshop was based in the Peggy's Cove, known as the "heart" of Lobster Country.

I dug right in, having the delectable signature lobster club sandwich at the Finer Diner; I consumed a yummy lobster roll at Tea and Treasures. I supped some hearty seafood chowder containing chunks of lobster at the Mug and Anchor Pub in Mahone Bay.  But, when my group arrived at the Sou' Wester Restaurant in Peggy's Cove, we were too late. Seems the steamers had already been turned off for cleaning.

Not to be denied, on my last afternoon Barb, my photography buddy and I walked to a nearby spot. The little cottage sits right off the dock in Indian Harbour, where the fisherman bring their catch. Ryer Lobsters, Ltd. is a local establishment specializing in fresh lobsters.

The restaurant consists of nothing more than outdoor picnic tables but the atmosphere is honest, pure relaxed Maritime heaven. Barb and I each ordered a one and a quarter pounder and were delighted at the price- only $9.00.  Imagine that? Barb also ordered a half dozen oysters. 

When our cooked crustaceans arrived on paper plates, we practiced out photography skills, proudly snapping pictures and then tore into the delicacies. No disappointment here; this was steamed seafood at its freshest and finest. Absolutely sensational, succulent and sinful. Dipping a morsel into melted butter just made each mouthful slip down more smoothly and taste more decadent.
Our lobster lunch was exactly what I had dreamed of and, in fact, Barb was so high, she ordered a second!
If you get to Peggy's Cove, be sure and stop at Ryer Lobsters: one of Nova Scotia's roadside delights - 8494 Peggy's Cove Road.

The lobster roll is Nova Scotia's  fast food.  Here is recipe provided by: Taste of Nova Scotia. I chose this simple recipe for those of us who don't live in the Province. It's made with frozen meat.

Lobster Roll

2 cups or one 11-oz tin frozen lobster meat
1/2-3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp diced celery
2 Tbsp minced onion (optional)

Thaw and drain lobster meat. Chop into bite size pieces. In a small mixing bowl combine mayonnaise with lemon juice, celery and onion. Add to lobster and mix well. Spread the lobster salad on your favorite bread, croissant or use as a pita bread filling. 
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ravioli

An Autumn Recipe

Can't let October slip by without thinking Oktoberfest.  Two trips to Munich, Germany, home of the Bavarian festival, converted me a beer drinker, thought I still prefer wine. I've found I like the taste of Sam Adams. 

According to the advertisement, the Boston brewed beer " has a rich, deep reddish amber hue which itself is reflective of the season. Samuel Adams Octoberfest masterfully blends together five roasts of malt to create a delicious harmony of sweet flavors including caramel and toffee.  The malt is complimented by the elegant bitterness imparted by the Bavarian Noble hops."

Sounds good to me.  They suggest pairing the drink with Pumpkin Ravoili for an autumn meal.  Here's their very simple  recipe, which I haven't tried, but how could you go wrong with pasta, butter and cheese?

Sam Adams Pumpkin Ravioli

•    24 store bought pumpkin ravioli
•    2 shallots
•    6 T butter
•    2 T sage, chopped
•    6 oz Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer
•    ¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Sautee shallots in butter and brown. When butter is browned add beer and sage, salt and pepper and Parmesan cheese. Pour over ravioli. (Serves four).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Feasting and Fun in Funky Santa Fe

My first night in Santa Fe began with an al fresco cocktail party that was anything but ordinary. The happy hour flowed with award winning concoctions shaken and stirred by famous mixologists from the Secreto Bar in the St. Francis Hotel.  Famous indeed; Daniel Gonzales won the 2010 Shake it Up! Cocktail Competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. He and fellow bartender, Chris Milligan, infused top shelf liquor with in-season, local New Mexican produce.
Secreto Bar Mixologists

My favorite highball, Sweet Heat, was created from a mixture of tequila, green chilies, mango, Grand Mariner and Agave nectar. Yes, it included hand-pressed green chilies and was joyfully shaken with a smile. Chris feels the smile adds the mandatory punch.

If those beautiful drinks weren't indulgent enough, my group was then treated to a sinfully rich meal prepared by former monk and current St. Francis Hotel Executive Chef, Estevan Garcia. Please refer to my  previously blog post about his signature dessert, which I called a Friar's Flan.

The next morning I set out to explore the town nicknamed "The City Different." Soon I came across an amusing arrangement of stone fish leaping from a courtyard of pebbles. They seemed so out of place but...why not?  Art in public places is encouraged in New Mexico and funky Santa Fe flaunts a multitude of outdoor creations.
Rocky Durham, Santa Fe School of Cooking

In the afternoon I enrolled in a restaurant walking tour given by The Santa Fe School of Cooking. Chef Rocky Durham, culinary director of the school, radiates a personality as full of life as those fiery red chilies I saw hanging all over town. Rocky lead my small group to an extraordinary, behind the scenes, tasting tour of four of the city's most famous restaurants.

Santa Fe's largest restaurant, Rio Chama Steakhouse, is managed by renown Chef Tom Kerpon. While the building's square footage sprawls, numerous dining rooms separate the space giving a warm, homey feel.  The impressive 11,000 bottle wine cellar holds an inventory valued at $330,000 amongst 860 different wines. Chef Tom seated us in the kitchen to sample red chili honey cherry glazed short ribs. The name's a mouthful, but the taste begets lip-smacking. The sweet, succulent meat literally fell off the bone.

Wine Cellar, Rio Chama Steakhouse
Next we walked to the sophisticated Inn of the Anasazi and met Oliver Ridgeway, an English chef. He prepares legendary modern American dishes with a southwestern twist. The Inn is listed in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, so you know it's special. Here we supped in the wine cellar on a Diver Sea Scallop with ranchero sauce and roasted blue corn salsa. What can I say- a huge, heavenly scallop enrobed with a devilish sauce.
Chef Ridgeway's Sea Scallop

The group meandered down the street to La Boca, a very popular small eatery. Chef James Campbell prepares tapas or small plates with big bold flavor. The hot spot features an extensive collection of Spanish wines. We savored artfully arranged hanger steak with smoked sea salt caramel, green chili's with sea salt and fried fingerling potatoes. Wow- I was honestly getting into the gastronomy of green chilies.
La Boca Tapas

Lastly we met Chef Matt Yohalem at Il Piatto, an Italian restaurant modeled after a Tuscan farmhouse.  He embraces the philosophy of "what grows together, goes together," and his seasonal menu calls for field fresh local produce and organic meats. By this late afternoon hour, I was ready to burst from all the exotic food and wine when Chef Matt treated us to a vintage $234 bottle of Saia Nero d'Avola wine with 13.5% alcohol.  I just had to imbibe. Somehow, I did not record the food presentation, but fortunately, I took a photo that shows a delicious array of soup, apples, nuts and sliced tongue.

Il Piatto's Assortment

After hours of savoring and sipping through four food fantasies, I waddled back to the St. Francis Hotel, thankfully a place of retreat that can restore one's spirit.

I give  my highest accolades to the SFCS walking restaurant tour but recommend skipping lunch beforehand. I also suspect you won't want any dinner. 
One of the many new dishes I tried in New Mexico was Carne Adovada, a spicy meat stew.  I first indulged my taste buds with the entree at Maria's New Mexican Kitchen, a traditional southwestern cantina. Maria's is famous for serving over 100 different margarita's. I did not get the recipe from Maria, so I'm adding one from the Santa Fe Cooking School.  I plan to try it soon, but need to order a few spices from the School's online Market.  

UPDATE:  Ordered the spices and followed the recipe. Fantastic results.  Everyone raved about the flavor and the meat is a very inexpensive cut.I will make it again.

This post joins other food blogs on Wanderfood Wednesday

Interested in hearing a web podcast about the cooking school and Rocky Durham's excellent lecture about foods native to the Americas? Use the following links to Tom Wilmer's NPR radio archives. 

34 minute Web Podcast Version includes food lecture: http://kcbx.org/mp3archive/audlog_santafe_l.mp3

15 Minute on-air version about The Santa Fe School of Cooking: http://kcbx.org/mp3archive/audlog_santafe_s.mp3

Thanks Tom.
Carne Adovada

Carne Adovada : Santa Fe School of Cooking
1/3 c. peanut or vegetable oil
3-1/2 lbs. pork loin or butt, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
2 c. diced onion
2 T. minced garlic
4 c. chicken broth or water
2 t. ground coriander seed
2 t. dried Mexican oregano
2 t. chile caribe
3/4 c. Chimayo ground red chile, mild or medium
1 T. red chile honey
2 T. Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown pork in batches. Set the pork aside. Add the onion to skillet and sauté until golden. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Deglaze the skillet with 1 c. of the chicken broth, loosening the browned bits with a spoon.

Place the coriander, oregano, chile caribe, red chile, honey, vinegar and salt in the workbowl of a food processor. Add the cooked onions, garlic and broth from the skillet and 2 more c. of chicken broth. Process until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

Place the browned pork, the chile marinade and the remaining 1 c. chicken broth in an ovenproof pot or dish, stir to combine well, and cook for 1 hour or until the pork is tender.

Serves 8

Optional seasonings: ground canela, ground cumin seed, toasted ground chile seeds, toasted ground pumpkin seeds.

Note: This dish reheats wonderfully and is better the next day.

Note: The traditional method for making this dish is to mix the marinade ingredients together and pour this over the meat. Cover the mixture and refrigerate overnight. Pour the meat and the marinade into an ovenproof casserole or pot and bake, covered, for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until tender. The method described above, although not so traditional, brings out the flavors of the onion, garlic and pork because the ingredients are caramelized or browned first. Whichever method you choose, the dish is full of flavor and will be a favorite. You can serve the Carne Adovada over chile rellenos, rice, wrapped in a flour tortilla as a burrito, or with beans and posole.