Monday, July 3, 2017

Not on the Fourth of July

Not on the Fourth of July 

So for Fourth of July we went to Cowan's Gap, basically a small lake surrounded by lush pine forest, with a little sandy beach at one side, picnic tables, grills, a stand renting kayaks and paddle boats. 

O it's not the Fourth you say? Got me there--we went last June 25. But I haven't properly celebrated any holiday secular or religious in years, usually settled for the weekend before or weekend after (helps explain in part my antipathy towards Christmas); either Luz or I or both work that night. Comes with a job that demands 24/7 staffing, 365 days a year--you don't live a normal calendar.  

Mind you I didn't cook the epic meal that follows--that was Luz and her sister, who did such an impressive job I figured I needed to record it all, for posterity.  

The star of the show and most difficult to prepare was the Filipino barbecue--something of a misnomer as the pork isn't cooked low and slow but quickly, in skewers. 

Three pounds of pork butt cut into two-inch-long slices, marinated overnight in soy garlic (lots of garlic) lemon juice ground pepper brown sugar Maggi's seasoning and 7 Up. Skewered the slices on wood sticks, grilled them, basted with the marinade (plus extra lemon brown sugar ketchup and corn starch to thicken).

The result--well looks good but I forgot to take pics of the prep and forgot to take pics of the skewers on the grill (a spectacular sight I promise). All I have is this pic of the pork piled high on a picnic table:

And yes they grilled traditional burgers but brushed the thrown-together BQ marinade-turned-basting sauce on the patties because--why not?

Burgers (juicy medium-rare nice crust just a hint of honeyed barbecue) chorizo sausages (spicy tangy--see topmost pic) sweet potatoes (creamy toasted-sugary) all came out of the grill.

And just to show it ain't all about protein (those potatoes!) they also scorched a few organic carrots:

Carmelized and tender with a crisped skin, the bright-orange roots managed to be almost as sexy as the proteins.

It wasn't all turf either, those proteins. Big shrimp (I'm guessing 16-20) with shell on to retain moisture, thrown on the grill and basted with the thrown-together BQ sauce: 

Need I say what they were like? Crunchy fresh, juicy-thick, smoky from the grill, tangy from the basting sauce:

A highlight of the meal was a big block of frozen squid that they plunked down on the grill, allowed to melt, spread the shellfish out evenly to roast over coals. Basted of course with the thrown-together sauce. 

Just one or two minutes once thawed (any more and they'd turn rubbery). Tender and sweet with crackling tentacles, the grilled calamari aren't even the highlight--that would be the roe found inside the head, creamy rich like egg yolk set just so, with a delicate briny flavor. 

Then there was the bangus (milkfish)--a monster almost three feet in length and maybe (I'm guessing) over ten pounds stuffed with chopped onions chopped tomatoes slivered ginger crushed garlic (lots of garlic--they went through plenty of bulbs that day) salt pepper lemongrass. Wrapped in banana leaves then roasted over coals.

The result? A buffet of textures and flavors, from the firm fragrant flesh (thanks to the lemongrass garlic ginger) to the chewy cheeks and tender collarbone meat to the silky lining of thick belly fat in the middle, God's--no Poseidon's--butter, rich briny herby goodness spooned on steaming hot rice. 

And good for you! No less tasty than pork fat but rich with unsaturated fats that help lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease (eaten in moderation of course). 

I failed to take pics of our eldest L's raita (chopped cucumber chopped cilantro dill and cumin in yogurt) which tangy creamy taste contrasted well with the burger and pork; or the fruits (seedless grapes, sliced watermelon); or the local bakery's donuts and cookies iced red white and blue ("Could we take some of the cookies home?" "Take the whole box there's plenty"). I know I know--I'm a bad bad food blogger. 

That though was our picnic meal--beautiful day, lovely park, great food. Not too bad for a Fourth of July celebrated a few days in advance. 

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