Everything disappoints, except food.
1. You find out your oldest buddy is actually a homophobe when he gets a few pints in him at the baseball game and starts calling fans of the opposing team "Cocksuckers", and congratulating them on their timing, "hey you're in town just in time for Gay Pride Day!"
2. Your wife never reads your blog, once.
3. I find myself getting pissed off at my kids in the same fucked up, scary way that I my own dad did when I was a kid. At nothing for chrissakes.
Yes you might have a bad meal at a restaurant. You might cook yourself something bland, but then it's the cooking then isn't it, not the food?
Back to the Monterey Fish market. We should all eat more fish, especially from places like this. The place is no bigger than the average bedroom because they only stock what is seasonal and sustainable at the moment. I nod at the bearded wildman who gave me the wonderful anchovy lesson (see "Song of the Anchovy") I notice some beautiful Skate wings, cut in glistening half spans. The striations are gorgeous, so rippled you can see these things flying slow motion in the sea. It's 6.95$ a pound, easily the cheapest thing here.
Once about a decade ago, again in Boston at a little hidden away restaurant that Wendy my food guru and hero took me to called Sage, I had Skate ravioli with sage-brown butter and I have never forgotten it. I'm not adventurous enough for ravioli yet, but I buy half a wing.
"Anything else" the kind blonde haired fishmonger asks.
"Yes, tell me how to cook it."
After a short giggle, she says "you can saute it, maybe some brown butter, if you like capers, a a little garlic..it's a mild fish so it's gonna pick up any flavors you use..."
Cool. I stop in at the Monterey Market, greatest veg/fruit spot on earth. I buy green figs. I get house made bacon from Magnani's cut superthin. I don't know the plan at this point but I feel it's all heading somewhere coherent.
I get home, the skate has a thick piece of cartilege in the center, then thins out to just a blade at the edges.
I wrap the figs in bacon and put them on the grill. Can't be kosher. Oy.
Ack! My wing is sticking to the saute pan? Not enough butter? Pan not hot enough? Should I have dredged the flesh in a little flour? Now that I'm learning stuff, when I make mistakes I can at least have some options flash in my head of where I could have goofed. Progress?
I cover the pan and go get the figs. The bacon has crisped and stuck itself to the figs which look on the verge of exploding. They've gotta be hot inside.
I put my wing on the plate with the caper berries and garlic bits. I cut into the wing.
Huh? The knife won't go through it..
Duh. There is a totally flat but tough web of bone and cartilige in the exact middle. Of course, how else would they do that flying thing. I discover the easiest way is just to scrape the meat off both sides of this, against the grain and I end up with an ugly pile of meat. Cool, all its bones stay inside the cartilege flapper! This stuff would be perfect for stuffing into pasta...
Ugly, but tasty, is has a shellfishy quality, like a Lobster mated with a haddock and came up with this grey tasty stuff.
The figs are so outrageously sweet I have to drizzle some balsamic on them to balance that with the smoky sweet bacon.
Yes it would be nice to share this with someone. Everything is better shared of course. With that same friend who I went to the game with because he's probably the truest most faithful guy I know. With my dad who inspires me with his love of eating and improvisational cooking, with my wife who is probably my biggest fan in the world.
Maybe next time.