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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Carmel and the Desperate Foodie

Family affairs called me to Carmel this past week, this is the home town of my Brother-in-law, and one of his most favorite places on earth. He had a big family meeting, and made it into a family trip, which lead my sister to ask if I could swing down, and hang out while the various in-law stuff happened. Sure, why not, although Carmel and Monterey have never been my favorite places. I don't care for crowds, not a big 'shopper' and I have found that this area, while a great source of incredible produce, is incredibly hard to find any of it cooked, or at least, cooked for a good price. And much of the seafood is, oddly, quite pedestrian. Trapped as I was, I managed to find the Carmel Farmer's Market (again, curiously small for being in the middle of one of the most amazing growing areas in the world). We managed to score some great onions, garlic, lettuce, tomatoes, Romano beans and locally made Italian sausage from a family that has been in the region for over a century. We also got some locally made linguine and some Parmesan at the market, now we were talking. We then hit the local fish market, and much to my joy, found Monterey squid, some of the last of the season as well as some wild caught Mexican prawns. The Monterey squids are small market squids, with thin bodies and delicate tentacles, delicious little beasts. For some reason, all of the local restaurants deep fry them, thus destroying the texture and flavor.

One knife, two cook, no problem, pocket knife

Hopefully you can get a feel for how these squid are. They are very tender when handled and cooked correctly. These would end up for a saute, as a couple of people expressed doubts about the tentacles. Here are the sausages, we ended up just browning these in olive oil and slicing.

Italian-ish sausages

These sausages had been made from Kurobuta pork, with loads of fennel seed, black pepper and Chardonnay from a local producer. Amazing flavor, and while not cheap, they were used to prepare food for 9 people. The Romano beans, given the traditional slant cut, these were given a quick blanch and quench, you can tell by the color that these were incredibly fresh and just a little crunchy still.

Romano's, a favorite of mine

With all the ingredients prepped, we waited for everyone to get done with their various family chores, oddly, my chore ended up being getting groceries, cooking, and oh, I had to buy a new pan and steamer/pot combination. My sister had to also, as there were no pots in the house.

Squid dish, mid cook

A little olive oil, some finely minced garlic and chopped onions, and a few teaspoons of locally made apricot jam. Which, while it might initially sound odd, the sweet and fruity flavors really worked into the squid quite well. This was reduced until the squid was tender.

Beans and sausage

Beans, garlic, onions and sausage rounds, all sauteed up, just until hot. The prawns were halved and tossed into the pan and everything was quickly brought to temperature. I removed most of the meat and beans to a bowl and tossed in the linguine, no rinsing, no rinsing! Just straight from the pasta water to the pan, along with a handful of the Parmesan, a half cup of milk and toss to coat. The pasta water will thicken the sauce up.

It ain't pretty, or focused, a platter for my linguine!

Plated, as it were, in a half service pan liner. Yay, fancy plating! The pasta was panned, tossed with freshly chopped Italian Parsley, then the meat and beans on top. Again, family style in a apartment, with not pots and tiny, tiny, dishes. This would have been great on a large platter.

Squid with Apricot preserve

The squid, now Calamari, which had been cooked in the reducing apricot preserves, took on a faint color, and loads of flavor. This dish was terrific as well, and a great compliment to the pasta dish. Along with the salad of local lettuce and tomatoes, a vastly superior meal to what we could have gotten in town. The Farmer's Market, as small as it was, served me well, with reliably fresh produce and food stuff. If you discount the pots, which will see many cooks in my kitchen, the food for this dinner was around $80, for 9 people. Which is far better than anywhere in the area.

1 comment:

  1. I wish you had a Like button, Bob, for times like this, when I don't know what to comment (a "the squids look amazing" is too mundane...) but want to express my liking of the post.