In my youth while growing up on a steady diet of hotdogs (a ghastly yet delicious combination of "meats") and nachos (covered in synthetic "cheese"), any kind of seafood was never high on my list of favorite foods. I'm sure many other children were similar....you know who you are. To paraphrase a line from a comedian, "Fish is the only thing when not at it's freshest, smells like what it is". To further that statement, a trip to the old Fulton Fish Market on South Street will only confirm what 170 years of peddling water-dwelling animals can do to air quality. That smell will most likely not change, but my feelings about seafood have.
Additionally, I have heard others, myself included, say "I am not a big dessert person". I think it has a lot to do with my preference of savory over sweet dishes or the fact that I cram too much food into my face to fit another rich course in. Since the beginning and especially as of late, Club meals have taught me to turn down nothing, try everything, and to slow down and wait for dessert, because you might might miss something special. Here is what J Boogie whipped up this past week.
Split Pea Soup with Hamhocks
Duck Breast with Apricot Glaze
Whole Stuffed Sea Bass with Lemon Caper Sauce
- Garlic Mash and String Beans
Bananas Foster Ala Boogie
Some people are turned off by pea soup, perhaps a flashback to that pukey scene in The Exorcist. Usually smoothed out for texture reasons, Jason left a lot of the chunks in to create more of a pea stew. The slow cooked ham hocks added a ton of salty, meat flavor and a heartiness not present in a heavily blended pea soup.
Duck is one of my favorite animals.....not to admire in nature or anything, to eat. It has appeared in our Thursday Club meals probably more than any other meat, and I have absolutely no complaints about that. The sweet apricot glaze spooned over the medium-rare duck slices were simply what we needed to get us ready for the rest of the meal. Caramelized apples never disappoint either. Paired with any salty, crispy sliced meat, you can't lose.
When I saw the fish course on the menu, I had no idea that they would be in whole form. I though Jason would just stuff a fat fillet with herbs and get it under the broiler. It wasn't until I was going to throw some bottles of white in the fridge that I noticed 2 crystal clear eyes glaring at me from underneath a layer of plastic wrap. Maybe a mere hallucination, I thought one winked at me as if to say, "Hey. We're going to be delicious, get me in the oven". And that's exactly what was done. With fennel and fresh herbs bursting out the bottom of the fish, they were cooked, then flipped and cooked some more. We were able to pull the bones out in a singular, almost cartoonish fashion because the meat was so moist and tender. The lemon caper sauce added an extra fresh burst of citrus and brine to the flaky flesh. It was nice to get some fresh vegetables on the plate as well in the form of some al dente green beans.
Luckily I saved some room for dessert. Jason's personal spin on a classic used diced bananas instead of whole and some Calvados (apple brandy) and aged rum for the boozy part. He also skipped the flambe technique seen in so many restaurants, but it didn't bother me as a) it adds no flavor to the dish and b) it has been known to burn kitchens and apartments to the foundation.