Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nantucket, June 2011

The weather during the first weekend of June was spectacular.   I know that it was glorious on Nantucket and I've heard that it was much the same all up and down, in and out of the the Northeastern USA.

Allegra - the beautiful "New York City Special" which is how I describe her whenever asked, "What kind of dog is she?" - and I drove from downtown Manhattan to Hyannis Airport, making a few obligatory stops; gas in Darien, CT., the McDonald's in Madison, CT which has a very large meadow behind it where Allegra can have a spin and a roll , and Kyler's Catch Seafood in New Bedford, MA (just off I-195 at Washburn Street) which has a huge selection of fresh fish at the MOST reasonable prices - I stop there going , yes, to buy fish to bring  to Nantucket (coals to Newcastle anyone?), and on the way home to stock up on enough fresh fish to eat for dinner and lunch for about 6 days in a row in NYC.   And before you know it, after dodging drivers that absolutely have to have a phone conversation or send a  text message at 75 miles per hour, we arrived, 5 hours later in Hyannis - and Legs (which is what I call her from time to time) was howling with delight, fully aware of where she's about to be.   She walked on the plane and sat in the aisle near the door.  Then she & I (we were the only passengers on the plane) arrived on Nantucket 12 minutes later.  Finishing off the trip by plane rather by ferry - is a little reward for all that driving.

We arrived on the island, settled out in Wauwinet (the east end of the island) at my sister, Laura's and brother-in-law Jimmy's Eden-like spot, then took off for town to do a few errands, and have  an heure bleue stop at one of my favorite places on earth, Sesachacha Pond also on the island's east end.   If you look clear across the pond you'll see see a dip in the sand - beyond the sand is the ocean.  Once or twice a year, the town's DPW plows that area so that the salt water comes into the pond and mixes with the fresh leaving behind a perfect blend of water described with the unseemly word, brackish.   Allegra loved sniffing around (thank goodness she didn't find anything dead to roll on) and even went in for a splash and a gulp.

Dinner was simple, and simply delicious.  Just picked asparagus - from the an established mound in Laura's renowned vegetable garden/orchard - were roasted with olive oil and salt. Basta.  Roasting intensified the flavor of the stalk.  Wild salmon from Alaska via New Bedford, was cut into single-portion size fillets and briefly marinated in maple syrup (grade B) and Dijon mustard, then grilled,  flesh-side down for 3 minutes, then skin-side down for another 2 or 3 minutes.   That's it - a tavola!

Saturday was all about the Nantucket High School graduation.  Emil, son of my friends, Anna and Steve Bender was one of the 89 class of 2011 graduates.  Following the graduation there was a fine party hosted by the families of 7 of the male graduates on the spacious property of one of the boys.  There was a shed/cantina where the boys' fathers took turns grilling burgers, dogs, Brazilian steak, chicken, and sweet sausages.  That's just what I saw before I turned the corner to find a whole lawn set with tables and chairs and a tented food area at the far end.   Under the tent, the U-shaped table formation swayed with loads and loads of food from a selection of salads that could have been the banners for the families who made them; tabbouleh, Brazilian rice vinaigrette, Swedish potato salad, salsa, all-American tossed green salad with many assorted veggies, crumbled feta cheese and dressed with a favorite from my childhood, Good Seasons Italian dressing combined mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar - to name just a few of them; pizza enrolado, a Brazilian pizza stuffed with ham and various vegetables; Vietnamese-style country ribs -prepared with love and attention by Emil's father, Steve; watermelon, mixed berries, and fruit salad; chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake and brownies.  It was a grand collaborative effort that not only fed the guests in style but created the kind of vibe that encourages conviviality.

Sunday was about the beach.  Heaven.  After the longest winter in memory (and what has now turned out to be the shortest spring) - the beach - out on the south end of the island chosen in order to shelter us from the somewhat active northerly winds - fragrant with ragosa roses and salt air was the perfect antidote to everything - worries included.  Just to be able to stretch out on the warm sand then dip sunkissed legs into the still icy Atlantic was worth all those stress-filled hours on the road.

And then we did the whole thing in reverse.

Be back soon.

SUSANSIMONSAYS: I ought to give you the marinade ingredients for the country ribs.   Steve actually used a marinade recipe that he found for Vietnamese Garlic Roasted Quail - this is enough for 8 quail - so maybe 4 or 5 poounds of ribs:
2/3 cup mushroom soy
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sugar
8 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon blackpeppercorns, crushed
2 tablespoons sesame oil
nam cham (Vietnamese fish sauce) to serve
fresh basil leaves to garnish
Beat soy with honey and sugar until the sugar has dissolved.  Stir in the garlic, crushed peppercorns and sesame oil.    Rub the marinade on the ribs.   And then follow whatever recipe you use for country ribs.  Whether you marinate them for several hours then grill - or slow roast for 6 or 7 hours.   Serve with a splash of fish sauce and garnish with fresh basil.

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