Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
So, let’s say you find yourselves on a small Caribbean island, and let’s say that you’re attending a lovely dinner party. You’ve made a few new acquaintances and are now feeling a wine- induced conviviality that prompts you to invite your new best friends for drinks the next evening, and being of the same frame of mind, they cheerfully accept the invitation. Let’s say that you wake up the next morning and say to yourselves, “OMG, we’re hosting a cocktail party tonight! Now what?”
Don’t panic, we say.
Firstly, aside from maybe the Afghani countryside there aren’t too many places on earth where the drinks part can’t be easily sorted out. In fact, if you’re like us you probably already have a bit of a bar on hand. And since you spent some time together last evening, you probably also know what tonight’s guests like to drink, so your shopping list can be nicely edited. And best of all, given that you’re all on a small Caribbean island nobody’s particularly snooty about whether or not their favourite brand is on offer. A red, a white, some cold beer, and a bottle or two of sparkling water will usually suffice in these circumstances.
Of course, something to nibble on is also usually expected and appreciated. Here’s where things can get a little trickier. If you're cool with the idea of ripping open a bag of Tostitos and unscrewing the lid from a jar of salsa then you need read no further. (Hey, we're the first to admit that this approach has its time and place). But if you've spent the previous evening in the presence of a rather high bar, as we recently had, then a little more creativity and effort will likely be anticipated by your visitors.
It's a fact of life on a small Caribbean island that one must approach a trip to the supermarket with an open mind and only the barest sketch of a menu plan. If you leave home counting on one crucial ingredient, it's bound to be out of stock. With this is mind we recently set forth.
First stop was the cold room at Superdescuento Morales here on Vieques. We augmented the carrots and celery we had at home with some sweet peppers. That gave us the the fixings for a spread of crudite.
Low and behold, we also spied some fresh asparagus! Let us just say right here that we can be a bit snobbish about fresh asparagus, given that the variety that sprouts forth at this time of year back in our recently thawed homeland is superb. It's sweet, splendidly thin, and can pretty much be eaten raw if you're so inclined. The asparagus that presented itself in Morales was, shall we say, rather sturdy. No worries, though, because just a few feet away several packages of prosciutto awaited us. Presto, our second cocktail menu item took form; blanched asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, then lightly sauteed. Like candy...
Beside the prosciutto lay packaged Chorizo, sliced salami-style. Voila! Our finger food- themed menu was really taking shape now! We had eggs and potatoes back home so we decided to whip up a Tortilla Espanol, basically a potato and Chorizo omelet. We'd make it well ahead of time & let it chill, then slice it into one inch squares for serving.
Some nice Spanish olives (which they NEVER run out of at Morales) would do nicely to round out our offerings.
Here are the final results. The party was a hit, and all it really took of our time was an hour after lunch.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Once again we're going to give preparing bacalao a whirl. At the moment we're about half way through the 72 hour soaking process.
A few years ago we had some success with a salt fish stew while here on Vieques, and we even went on to pen an article for Vieques Events magazine about the history of this global staple and its Puerto Rican connection. The article included our stew recipe (Bacalao guisado)
This year, though, we're going to try making fritters. We have very fond memories of scarfing back these little treats while quaffing ice cold draft beer (Chopp) in Rio de Janeiro. It will be hard to come up with results that will beat that memory, but we'll give it a go! Stay tuned for the results!
Monday, May 13, 2013
You're either a flyer or you're not.
If you're not sure, one definitive way to find out is to climb aboard a small aircraft and go for a spin. The closeness to the ground, the bumps and sways, the tendency to fly sideways into the wind, riding through a rainshower like it's a trip to the car wash...all these things can either be thrilling or terrifying.
Fortunately for us, we're pretty securely in the camp of the flyers. If we weren't, we'd find it a lot less convenient to get to Vieques each year. We'd either have to settle for the somewhat unreliable and nausea- inducing ferry, or suck it up and suffer through the 20 minute puddle jump.
This year, Bee had the great fortune and added excitement of riding in the co-pilot's seat. Here's a little taste of how things looked from up front:
And the sun always shines on Vieques!
(Please excuse the formatting issues as we blog from the Caribbean. Like life in general, internet speed operates on island time, and it messes with the editing capabilities.)