Friday, June 9, 2017

Sweet Corn Risotto



You'll have to pardon the picture.  I originally posted this pic on Instagram like I do most other food pics.....it's what we were having for dinner that night....never intending to blog about it.  More than one friend asked me to post the recipe and I aim to please, so.......

Risotto is one of those things I can throw together on nights when there's not much to speak of in the fridge and I've already had a glass of wine and am not going to the store.  I've always got the basics in the pantry.....onion, garlic, arborio rice, WINE, anchovies, parmesan, and chicken stock.  Then I just scan the fridge or the freezer for something to "gild the lily".  If I can't find anything, Mr. B gets plain risotto, but most often I've got frozen peas, mushrooms, or another vegetable.  This night I had three ears of sweet corn that needed a home.  A trip to the herb garden and I've got dinner.

The rest is just time and stirring.

Here's the recipe:
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion (either white or yellow), chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 anchovies, minced (add a pinch of salt to the chopped garlic and anchovies and mash them all together into a paste with the back of your knife)
1 cup white wine....nothing sweet.  I typically use Sauv Blanc, but Chard or Pinot Grigio also work great.  Whatever you like to drink
2 cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
1 cup parmesan, grated
corn kernels scraped from 3 cobs of corn (or you could use 1 1/2 cups frozen corn that has been thawed)
2 tbsp fresh herbs...I used basil, but thyme or sage would work also
Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Put the stock in a large pot and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.  If you've scraped your corn from the cob, add the cobs to the stock while you bring it to a simmer and then remove them.  If you've used frozen corn, no worries.  Just skip that step.

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When the butter is melted add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add about a tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.   Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic/anchovy/salt mixture to the pan and cook for about a minute.  Add the arborio rice and stir, getting the rice all coated with the onion mixture.  Stir for about a minute.  Add the wine.  Stir constantly until the wine has mostly evaporated.

Now comes the tedious part (I, however, find it relaxing).  You can't leave the stove for 30 minutes!  Get yourself (a large glass of wine) and ladle or a measuring cup and add that stock to the risotto a cup at a time, letting the stock evaporate between each addition......add a cup of stock and continuously stir until the liquid in the pan is gone, then add another and stir until evaporated, etc, etc. until all the stock is gone.  It should take 3-4 minutes for each stock addition to evaporate.  The whole process should take about 30 minutes.  Adjust your heat accordingly.

When all the stock has been added, add in the corn and parmesan and stir to combine.  Taste for seasoning and adjust.  Stir in the fresh herbs, saving a few to sprinkle on after plating.




Sunday, June 4, 2017

Grilled Cauliflower with Tomato, Dill, and Capers


The Food52 website recently started a couple of cookbook clubs.....one for baking and another for cooking.  This month's cooking selection is any book by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I have four out of his five books and have frequently cooked from them, but they'd been gathering a little dust, so when they were selected, I decided to knock off that dust and revisit them.

His books are vegetarian....which is interesting because he says he's not one.  Neither am I but we try to eat vegetarian during the week.  We often only achieve pescetarian (hey Annie!), but it's an effort, at least!


These books are great for summer....tons of ideas for fresh bright sides and salads along with grains, legumes, pasta, etc.  I highly recommend.  

This particular dish could be either.  It's hearty enough to stand alone for dinner but also makes a great side.  It was a Saturday night dinner party over Memorial Day weekend when I served this and it was fabulous with some grilled ribeyes and a big fruit platter.  

Full disclosure.....I couldn't find my vegetable grill pan, so I pan roasted the cauliflower.  Shoot me.  The dressing and dill in this is scrumptious.  Make sure you dress the cauliflower right out of the oven (or off the grill, if you're a rule follower) so that it really soaks into the veg.  Toss it with the rest of the ingredients and add more dressing to your liking.  I don't love a heavily dressed salad, so I served the leftover dressing on the side and everyone added to their taste.

Here's the recipe:

Grilled Cauliflower with Tomato, Dill, and Capers
Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
(I doubled this as I was serving a crowd.....and maybe wanted leftovers!)

Ingredients:

2 tbsp capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp French whole-grain mustard
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 small cauliflower, divided into florets
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 2/3 cups baby spinach leaves
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

First make the dressing, either by hand or in a food processor (I used my Vitamix).  Mix together the capers, mustard, garlic, vinegar, and some salt and pepper.  Whisk vigorously or run the machine while adding half the oil in a slow trickle.  You should get a thick, creamy dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Add the cauliflower florets to a large pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 3 minutes only,  Drain in a colander and run under a cold tap to stop the cooking immediately.  Leave in the colander to dry well.  Once dry, place in a mixing bowl with the remaining olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Toss well.  (I skipped this step and spread the florets in a single layer on a sheet pan and roasted at 400 degrees until charred and tender.)

Place a ridged grill pan over the highest possible heat and leave it for 5 minutes, until very hot.  Grill the cauliflower in a few batches  -  make sure the florets are not cramped.  Turn them around as they grill, then once nicely charred, transfer to a bowl.  While the cauliflower is still hot, add the dressing, dill, spinach, and tomatoes.  Stir together well, then taste and adjust the seasoning.  

Serve warm or at room temperature, adjusting the seasoning again at the last minute.


Here are a few other recipes from the books that I've posted in the past.....

This safron pasta in a decadent butter sauce is amazing.

Another cauliflower offering.....in cake form!  Delicious and makes an impressive presentation!

The group is cooking from these books through the month of June, so I've got my eye on a few more recipes to try......pistachio shortbread cookies because I lurve anything pistachio, a ton of tomato salads because the farmer's market tomatoes are here, and a salmon and asparagus bruschetta that was posted on the facebook page that I think would be perfect for my mama's mahjong group!

Stay tuned.



Friday, May 26, 2017

Zucchini Involtini


 Friday's Italian lesson....involtini is a derivative of the word involto which means "bundle" or alternatively "wrap" or "packet".  It can essentially be any outer thing wrapped around some sort of filling.  In this case, it's zucchini wrapped around a ricotta filling nestled into a tomato sauce, sprinkled with parmesan and then baked to golden deliciousness.



Sounds fancy, right?

The end product does make a pretty fancy presentation but getting to that point is rather simple.


Start with thinly sliced zucchini....I look for the most symmetrical ones I can find and use a mandoline to slice them but you can also use a vegetable peeler or if you have stellar knife skills, have at it.  Lightly oil and S&P them and bake until they're pliable.

While they bake, make your filling.  Both of these steps can be done ahead of time and assembled when you're ready, which makes this a great party appetizer.

When you're ready to assemble divide up the filling among the zucchini and roll them into little bundles.


Put a thick layer of your favorite marinara....I swear by Rao's Arrabiata, but you do you, or make your own.


Stand those little suckers on their ends and nestle them down in that sauce.


Grate a healthy amount of parm on top and you're ready to bake.  I often do this in the morning, cover it with foil and put it in the fridge until we're ready to eat.  25-30 minutes in the oven....until it's melty and bubbly and you're good to go.



Hubs and I have eaten this on it's own....with a salad.....the other night, with pork chops....versatile stuff.

It's also a great idea to make extra filling and use to stuff under the skin of chicken breasts or top some toasts and then pop under the broiler for a few seconds.  So yummy.


The filling is endlessly adaptable also.  I use basil, thyme, and oregano, but your favorite herb combos would, of course, work.  I've seen a suggestion of mint and chives which would be summery.  Add some sauteed greens....spinach, chard or kale would all work.

Here's my recipe:

Zucchini Involtini
adapted from Food52.com

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

2 large zucchini
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Filling:
1 cup ricotta (I use whole milk)
zest of one lemon 
heaping tablespoon chopped herbs...basil, oregano, thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon grated parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
a few grinds of black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 deg F.   Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or Silpat, or rub lightly with olive oil.  Trim the stem end of each zucchini.  Stand each vertically, and make 1/4-inch thick cuts down to create long slices.  Arrange the slices on the sheet pan.  Drizzle the zucchini lightly with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer pan to the oven and roast for 15 minutes.  Remove pans from the oven, flip the slices over and roast for another 5 minutes.  Remove pan from the oven.  
Note:  the timing on baking will depend on how thick you sliced your zucchini.  You're looking for them the be pliable enough to roll.

To make the filling, in a medium bowl, stir together the all the filling ingredients....ricotta, lemon zest, herbs, garlic, parmesan, salt, and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Spoon tomato sauce into a 9-inch round or square baking dish....thickly cover the bottom.  Place a spoonful (about 2 teaspoons each) of the filling at one end of each of the zucchini slices.  Roll the slice into a tight coil and place it on its end in the tomato sauce.  Once they're all in the dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a healthy grating of parmesan.  Transfer to the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbling and cheese melted.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Podcasts

Do you listen to any podcasts?  I've really become hooked.  I'm like a lot of other people that got started when Serial became the big sensation a few years ago.  I then delved into sports related ones.....specifically college football.....and it's kind of grown from there.  I find it a great way to get through a workout, pass time in the car or listen to while I'm cooking.

Here are my favorites....

My walk with Fletch always starts with....

This is all things Ohio State....90% football but they do occasionally have basketball commentary.  There would probably be more if the bball bucks were any good.  In the off-season this is all about football recruiting.  It's called the Morning 5 because it's supposed to be a 5 minute podcast that usually lasts 12-15.


From the NYTimes and hosted by Michael Barbaro (I love his voice) and it delves a little deeper into the main headline of the day.  Now lately, yes, it's been all Trump, because duh.....but when the news cycle slows down, I find it educational in areas I didn't really know much about, i.e. they explained the crisis in Venezuela in detail, dumbed down the big hacking issue from last weekend, did a background story on Uber CEO Travis Kalanik, etc.  So when Trump isn't dominating the headlines it gets more interesting.  It is a great 20 minute listen and I feel a little more informed.


This is another "what's in the headlines" podcast that just hits on the highlights in politics, sports, entertainment, etc.  It's 5 minutes and will allow you to at least nod like you know what's going on at the water cooler in the morning.


NPR's version of the big stories of the day from politics to pop culture in 10-12 minutes.


Weekly or bi-weekly Political....

These are all from the newly formed (after November 8....) Crooked Media Group.  They've taken over the podcasting world and if you didn't vote for Trump, you've heard of them......they're former Obama speech writers and staffers.  So, yeah.  Look, I'm sure Fox News has something you'd like if these offend your sensibilities.



This is my favorite of the group.  It drops on Saturday and is recorded in a live setting and the guests are usually comedians so it's pretty hilarious.  They sometimes venture down a rabbit hole, which can be a tad annoying but it makes an hour walking fly by.  Hosted by Jon Lovett (not the one from A League of Their Own) who was, yes, a speechwriter for Obama and Hillary, but is also a Hollywood producer and screenwriter who produced the show The Newsroom (a favorite) and created 1600 Penn.



Weekly podcast hosted by Ana Marie Cox, political columnist and culture critic, with liberals and conservatives.  So there!  It's an in-depth conversation with a new guest every week about what divides us....and not arguing.  


Hosted by Tommy Vietor, a foreign policy wonk under Obama who also sat on his National Security Council.  I've learned more about world politics here than any other place.  


Bi-weekly with Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett and Dan Pfeiffer.....don't even consider this one if youre a Trumpster.


Other political 'casts....



From The New Yorker magazine.  This is just a reading of the comment section from that week's publication.


Also from The New Yorker......a 20 minute political discussion.



And YES, I do listen to some fun shit too.....


From my favorite magazine, Garden & Gun, this dropped a few weeks ago and I've only listened to one episode....the last one about the S-Town podcast.  Totally enjoyable weekly.


The decades old, award winning show hosted by Terry Gross.  I don't listen to them all but when she's interviewing someone that intrigues me, I'll download it.  If you're looking for a place to start, three decades of producers on the show pick their favorite episodes.


NPR's weekly podcast of all things pop culture.  I pick and choose my episodes.



THE most downloaded podcast of all time.  It's about a "Shit Town" in Alabama that starts in one place and ends someplace completely different.  It's 8 episodes and I listened to it in two days!





I've never missed a season of the Bachelor/Bachelorette and Reality Steve has all the dirt.  Alert....he also has spoilers and it drives my friends crazy because I always know who "wins" before the first episode airs.  I like to watch knowing who gets picked!  Which surprises even me because I've never been the girl to read the last chapter of a book first.  And since the new Bachelorette season starts next week.....


I've always loved a good Katie Couric interview....start with the Ina Garten episode!



All things Real Housewives.  Love it.


All things Bravo TV.  I don't watch ALL Bravo shows, but most of them and this dishes on the shows and often times has interviews with the "talent."


And last, but certainly the most important....FOOTBALL

I listen to AT LEAST one of these every day from fall camp to national signing day and in the off-season if something scandalous is going on.   Total junky.



This is usually Ivan Maisel, Adam Rittenberg, and Heather Dinich from ESPN....good insight to the playoff committee's inner workings.


Hosted by Spencer Hall of SBNation....these guys get a little silly sometimes.



Independent podcast hosted by Ty Hildenbrandt and Dan Rubenstein.....other tha Ohio State pods, this is a favorite.


From Eleven Warriors, which IMHO, is the best blog on the interwebs for all things Buckeye.


From another OSU blog, Land of 10.



So there you have it.......what are your favorite podcasts?






Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nicoise with Olive Oil-Poached Tuna


We went to The Villages last week to hang out with the 'rents for a few days.  Have y'all ever been to The Villages?  It's a massive retirement community in central Florida......and I mean massive.  I've been going down there for about 10 years and I still couldn't drive anywhere by myself.  I'd never be able to find my way back home.  And GPS doesn't work there, I'm sure.  Too confusing even for technology.

Anyhoo, the trip started out pretty shitty when we blew a tire on I75.  The good news is it was in the middle of Atlanta so getting it fixed wasn't as much of a challenge as it could have been but it did add a couple of hours to what is already a long trip.  The rest of the trip couldn't have been better.....my mother's lasagna, tons of pickleball, cocktail party with friends, Fletch met new friends and got golf cart rides,  Ohio State football and a trip to Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa (I'm going to do a separate post about Bern's because.....amazing!)


So after all that gluttony, it was back to healthier fare this week.  We do a lot of salads around here and Nicoise is one of the mister's favorite.  But let's be real.....I'm not that into multi-prep dinners every night,  especially when it comes to salad.  So, when mama wants to put papa in a good mood (because she might have done a little shopping) she puts in a little extra effort.  Just sayin.

I usually prefer to just grill the tuna because EASY, but I've been eying the olive oil poached tuna in Nancy Silverton's new book, Mozza at Home.  What a fabulous book.  I've dogeared practically every recipe in it.  Each chapter is basically a menu with several recipes but you can pick and choose.  The Nicoise chapter consists of separate, more elaborate recipes of each component, but I just wanted to try the tuna and the greens.  Hard to believe, but I'd never "olive oil-poached" anything before.  This seemed like as good a time as any.  So easy.  Look, you can always buy canned/jarred poached tuna, but this is so doable.




The rest consists of hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, boiled baby potatoes, blanched green beans and a lemon vinaigrette to drizzle over everything.  Everyone can make hard-boiled eggs, but y'all......I got that Instant Pot that is all the rage right now and hard-boiled eggs have become my life. I like my yolks on the under-done side, so 4minutes at high pressure, manual release, 5 minutes in an ice bath and BOOM.  How gorgeous are those things!!

Boil a pot of water, blanch the beans for about 4-5 minutes (I like them still crisp.....mushy green beans are my childhood nightmare), drop them in an ice bath and drain.  Use that same pot of boiling water to cook the potatoes.  Takes about 12-15 minutes depending on the size of your spuds.  Slice them in half while they're still warm and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette.  It'll soak right into those babies and make them delish.



Olive Oil-Poached Tuna

Mozza at Home, Nancy Silverton
(serves 6-8)


Ingredients:
(I halved this recipe to feed two)

2 pounds (2-inch-thick) albacore tuna
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh coarsely ground black pepper
2 lemons
3 cups olive oil
1/2 cup champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
8 bay leaves, preferably fresh
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick lengthwise
4 arbol chili pods
6 (2-inch-long) fresh rosemary sprigs
Maldon sea salt (or other flaky sea salt such as fleur de sel)

Directions:

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 deg F.

Cut the tuna into 3- to 4-inch chunks.  Sprinkle with the kosher salt and pepper and set the tuna aside for 10  minutes to come to room temperature while you prepare the poaching ingredients.

Use a vegetable peeler to peel the outer skin of the lemons.  Throw the peels into a large ovenproof saucepan.  Slice the lemons into 1/4-inch thick rounds, discarding the ends, and throw the rounds into the saucepan.  Add the olive oil, remaining salt, pepper, vinegar, bay leaves, garlic, chili pods, and rosemary.  Heat the oil over high heat until it begins to bubble around the edges.  Turn the heat off and use a slotted spoon to carefully place the albacore chunks in the oil without the oil splattering.  Put the lid on the pan, or cover tightly with aluminum foil, and put the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven, remove the lid or foil and let the fish cool to room temperature in the oil.

Meanwhile, set a colander over a large bowl.  Pour the contents of the pan into the colander.  Reserve the oil for another use or to store leftover tuna, if you have any.

To serve, lay the tuna artfully on a medium rimmed platter, layering in the lemon, lemon peels, bay leaves, garlic, chilis, and rosemary sprigs in a way that looks pretty.  Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with tongs.


Bibb Salad with Soft Herbs

Ingredients:

2 bibb lettuce heads, cores and outer unappealing leaves removed and discarded, remaining leaves chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2tbsp Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
25 (1-inch-long) fresh chive battonettes
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Direction:

Put lettuce leaves in a large bowl.  Drizzle the lemon juice and sprinkle the salt over the lettuce and toss to coat the lettuce.

Drizzle 1/3 of the 1/2 cup vinaigrette over the lettuce.  Reserve 4 or 5 chive batonettes.  Sprinkle one-third of the remaining chives and one-third of the chopped dill, tarragon, and parsley over the salad and toss gently, massaging the vinaigrette into the leaves to distribute the herbs and coat the leaves with the vinaigrette.  Continue adding the vinaigrette and herbs, a third at a time, and tossing and massaging to distribute the herbs and coat the leaves with vinaigrette, until you have added all of the chopped herbs and 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette.  Add the last 2 tablespoons only if needed to coat the greens.


Lemon Vinaigrette
makes 1 cup  
(I double this to use later in the week)

Ingredients

1/4 cup minced shallot
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Combine the shallot lemon juice, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl.  Add the olive oil, in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.  Use the vinaigrette or refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days.  Bring the vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk to recombine the ingredients before using.


I assemble all the components of the Nicoise on a platter and drizzle a bit of the vinaigrette over everything.  Not a lot.....just a light drizzle.  I then hit it all with a bit of sea salt and ground black pepper.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tuna Poke Bowl


So, what is poke (pronounced POH-keh)?  Basically?  Hawaiian tartare.  Food isn't rocket science, people.  But it seems that poke is having it's 15 minutes right now.  Birmingham just opened a new restaurant, Ono Poke, in the newly renovated Pizitz Food Hall downtown.  And because it's my current food obsession, I had hubs bring dinner home from there the other night.  And although it had a mayo based sauce which I like to avoid, it was delish (admittedly, quite possibly because of that mayo sauce!).  

So I decided to make my own.  How hard can it be?  A little research determined not hard at all.  I also discovered that these are supremely customizable.



I found a pretty straightforward recipe that closely resembled my tuna tartare recipe so I went with that.....raw yellow fin tuna, avacado, cucumber, toasted sesame seeds piled on top of a bed of grains with thinly sliced kale.


Here's where it gets fun.....next time I might add some blanched edamame and some sliced jalapenos, or maybe a handful of golden raisins and slivered almonds or toasted pepitas.  Or if you're feeling a little Hawaiian.....macadamia nuts!  Feel free to switch out your protein too......sushi grade salmon or even some cooked shrimp.  I used quinoa this time but nutty brown rice would be delicious.  If you've got leftover rice from your Chinese take out, use that shit!  Or serve the poke as an appetizer and leave the grains out altogether to lighten it up.  

Here's the recipe (based on myrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

2 cups hot cooked quinoa
1 cup very thinly sliced kale (stems removed)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tsp Sriracha chili sauce or red pepper flakes (I like things spicy....adjust to your liking)
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 pound raw sushi-grade yellow fin (or ahi) cut into small cubes
3/4 cup cubed seeded peeled cucumber
1 small avocado, peeled and diced
1 green onion, thinly sliced (white and green part)
1 1/2 tablespoon white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Directions:

Combine quinoa, kale, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and salt in a bowl.  Toss to coat.

Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, ginger and remaining 1 tablespoon rice vinegar in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Add tuna, cucumber, avocado, and green onion; toss gently to coat.

Divide rice between serving bowls, Top with tuna mixture.  Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds.  Serve immediately.


And if you're into a mayo based sauce....mix 1/4 cup mayo with 1 tsp hot chili paste (sambal oelek) and drizzle on top of your finished bowl.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fogo Island and the Fogo Island Inn

It's finally time to catch the Ferry

Brand spanking new....only been in service since May"ish".  Very nice.


Holds approx. 70 cars depending on how many large trucks and semi's are on board.

There's so much in my head about this trip and I can't really sort it out.  I do know that this trip to the easternmost point of our continent worked it's way into the top five on my all-time list.  But to put it into words is really difficult because it was the intangibles that made me love it so much.....the kindness of the people, the tranquility of the island, the step-back-in-time vibe despite the overwhelmingly contemporary structure that is the Fogo Island Inn.  It seems to be a complete contradiction.....this Inn and this Place....but it isn't.  I'll do my best to convey the allure.

Before I introduce you to Fogo Island Inn, read this 2012 NY Times article or this Globe and Mail article on the Inn's founder, Zita Cobb, and how inspiration for the Inn came about.  We had the pleasure of chatting with Zita over cocktails one night and she's a true representation of the island and its people.  Intelligent and charming.  Also, do yourself a favor and search her name on youtube and watch a couple of her speeches.

The first glimpse on the ride in.






Our room.....all of the furniture, and I mean ALL including the accessories, quilts,rugs, etc. are made on the island by the locals.   Even down to the handmade beds.  It's really quite amazing.



This is not the normal Exclusive Resort room (this one is a bit smaller).  I do believe ER's normal sized room was reserved by a much more prominent guest and his travel party.  More on that later.  It didn't really matter to us.  The bed was amazing, along with the views and we really didn't spend much time here except for me to enjoy the first few cups of coffee every morning in my jammies staring at the water.  


Speaking of the coffee....no need to call for room service.  An adorable little basket is waiting for  you outside your door every morning with a steaming thermos of coffee, juice, and freshly baked pastries.  It was one of my favorite parts as I HATE waiting for room service to arrive when I want my damn coffee.  #spoiledbrat






We arrived at the Inn around cocktail hour so after checking out the room, we headed to the bar and ordered a bottle of wine.  The bartender suggested we enjoy it on the roof to take in the amazing views.  If you insist!!!  The delivered the wine along with glasses to the roof and we "oohed" and "ahhhed" and "omg-ed" like a couple of idiots!  But c'mon, dude......









Even the roof of the dining room is pretty.  Details.  Everywhere.




Casual elegance without an ounce of pretense ANYWHERE


They normally have two seatings for dinner every night, 6:30 and 8:30.  We opted for the early one because we're old.  Don't count on your typical restaurant.  The portions are small by American standards (hallelujah), you get a choice of 2-3 appetizers and entrees of locally sourced/fresh ingredients and dessert.  (Food is included in the price of your room.....alcohol, not.)  All of that being said, this is an extremely talented chef and let's not forget, the livelihood of this island is fresh seafood.  Simply fabulous.



 

The atmosphere doesn't suck either.

One part of your stay at the Inn includes a 2-3 hour tour of the island with a "community host"....meaning a local and most likely in their personal car.  Whatever you do, don't skip this.  Even if tours aren't your thing.  Our community host was Fergus Foley......Irish much??.....and I'll never forget him.  Meet Fergus and two of his six brothers.....



Remember those stilts.......

Fergus picked us up at the Inn around 10am and off we went.



That knobby looking hill in the distance is Brimstone Head which, according to the Canadian Flat Earth Society, is one of the four corners of the earth.  So, yeah.




It also happens to be a fabulous hiking spot which unfortunately we didn't have the time for this trip.



It's also freaking windy at Brimstone Head.








Fergus is a retired fishery officer (and does he have stories!!) so when he spotted a few of his buddies taking a smoke break outside the fish plant (?) he starts giggling and says, "I'm going to stop and talk to these guys just to see if you can understand a word they say!!"  We didn't.  Fergus has a thick Irish accent, but these dudes were speaking a different language!





The view from the Marconi Wireless Interpretation Center.  Another great place to hike.



"The Marconi Wireless Interpretation Centre officially opened in 2007, and is a monument to the important role that wireless communication played in Newfoundland and Labrador's history. The original Marconi station was built in 1911, and for many years was the only station between Cape Race and Belle Isle. Through interpretative panels, the site tells the story of the ebb and flow of communities and culture and how wireless technology kept those in the fishery safe, prosperous and in touch."






Apparently, this is architect, Todd Saunders, inspiration for the Inn's design.



I see it.



Last stop of the day was in Tilting, home of Fergus Foley, and a photographer's dream.  I wish I talented enough to do it justice.  (This is a great resource.)






Squish studio.....one of the four Shorefast Foundation artist studios



















Everytime the Inn comes into view, the contrast is a fabulous shock to the senses.




And no trip to Tilting is complete without a stop at Phil's Shed.  Phil is Fergus' brother and he works at the Inn and THIS is his shed.  



Yes, Newfoundland has it's own time zone.  That half hour screwed with me all week!


I guess the best way to describe it is the Foley brothers' man cave and they often have the more prominent Inn guests here for "kitchen parties".   I was having a little trouble swallowing that until I had the opportunity to attend one of those kitchen parties the next day.  More later.


This trip to the shed was just Fergus, hubs and I, and Phil's wife of 21 years, Maureen!  I know that because today happened to be their anniversary.


Had the "pleasure" of trying some of their screech.  You guessed it.....moonshine.  One sip was enough.  And yes, that's actual iceberg ice in that glass.  Fergus says the best thing about iceberg ice is it never melts with just one drink, so you can't waste that ice....


Music is a huge part of life on Fogo.....specifically old Irish folk songs which they'll break out at these kitchen parties.  But they also love themselves some country music.  They tried to convince me to sing some country music with them but there isn't enough screech in the world to make that shit happen.


Fergus dropped us back the the Inn in time for a late lunch and a little chill time before dinner.  We didn't really plan this, but our reservations at the Inn just happened to coincide with their annual Chef's on the Edge event, where they bring in prominent Canadian chefs to cook at the Inn for Canadian Thanksgiving.  Their Thanksgiving falls on a Monday so they use the previous weekend for the event.

Friday night's dinner was the first event for the weekend and was a family style dinner at big tables with a shit ton of wine.  I sat next to Zita Cobb's (the Inn is her brainchild) brother who runs the Shorefast Foundation and was a very interesting dude, but I also sat next to Heather and her husband Jim (who I later discovered was the Prince of Winnipeg) and they were FUN!!  So much fun, we made very drunken plans to go hiking together in the morning.  Because I'm an ambitious drunk.

Well, we run into each other the next morning at breakfast all a little rough around the edges and we proceed to make every excuse to not go hiking.....the obvious hungover one, the it's probably too cold one, etc., etc.  But then I walk outside and it the nicest day we've had so far, meaning NO WIND so we decided to suck it up and go.

Good decision.....


We opted for Joe Batt's Point Trail because it was closest to the Inn and we needed to be back by 12:30 for the kitchen party/crab boil at Phil's Shed.  Who in their right mind would miss THAT?








This is another four artist structures on the island.  Rumor has it this artist-in-residence grant is the most sought after in the world.  That's the rumor.




























This is Colleen's brother's place!





The statue of the great auk....a now extinct bird that once called these parts home.  There's a sign at the Inn saying "Have you hugged the auk today?"



So we all hugged the auk.







Punts....used in the Fogo Island Punt Race
This explains the punt races!





After the hike it was back to Phil's Shed for the "boil-up".... we'd call it a crab boil.  There was singing, story-telling, freshly steamed crab, homemade fishcakes, alcohol, etc.  It reminded me of the neighborhood parties my parents and their friends had when I was a kid.  Minus the singing.  Thank God.




Squish House.........another of the artist studios.










From the time we arrived at the Inn there had been buzz that a French VIP was staying in-house with a group of friends.  On our hike, we were all speculating on who it might be.....a political dignitary?  a celebrity?


Then I overheard talk at the boil that it was Prince Albert of Monaco.  (Whenever I say Prince Albert, I can't stop myself from repeating the prank call my friends and I used to make when we were kids..."Have you got Prince Albert in a can?  Yes.  Then you better let him out?")  We were in grade school.  We thought we were hilarious.

Anyway, we heard his whole party would be joining the rest of us common folk (besides the Prince and Princess of Winnepeg) for dinner that night. Rubbing elbows, people.


On our ride back to the Inn, Fegus unexpectedly pulls off the side of the road to this green shed, gets out of the car, crawls under the shed and comes out with this.  I have video of the guys trying it but my laughing in the background saying I'm gonna pee my pants is so loud and obnoxious, I'll save your ears.



I mean when was the last time someone pulled their stilts out from under their house and made you try them??  Me either.



Then Fergus made another sharp detour and took us to his favorite berry picking spot.




Partridgeberries.  The Partridgeberry Festival was also happening the weekend we were there, but we opted  out.

Wild Blueberries







Dinner sunsets are stunning.  Every night!


Then Prince Albert makes his royal entrance.  Actually, it was all pretty damn anticlimactic to tell you the truth.  He made a little speech during dinner wishing his friend a happy birthday....blah blah.  But the best part was when Jim stood and introduced himself as the Prince of Winnepeg to the entire room and wished Heather a happy 21st (I think?) anniversary.  Mic drop.

Albert


This was the last night of the Chefs on the Edge event and we were treated to a six course (don't quote me on the number.....it's a bit hazy)  dinner with wine pairings.  It was amazing.

All that royalty in one pic.

And then since the opportunity doesn't often present itself, we hung out with Albert and a few of his friends in the bar until after midnight.  Morning flight be damned.  Until the next morning!!

Even better than Prince Albert that night was the former head of the NFL for ESPN again tweaking my fantasy football line-up.  I finally won a match-up that week!!

Up at 8am to catch the 10am ferry and another hour drive to Gander airport.  I didn't even mind the mild hangover because I can't remember when I've had that much fun on a trip.  All of the people on the island and associated with the Inn were the warmest, most welcoming we ever come across.  Meeting new friends was a fabulous bonus that made the trip all that more memorable.  Thanks for letting us celebrate your anniversary with you!

So that's Fogo Island and the Fogo Island Inn.  Put this on your bucket list while you may still be able to possibly get a reservation.  There are only 29 rooms and it's booked solid for the next year, at least and Oprah was just quoted saying it was at the top of HER bucket list, so.......

Go.  Allow yourself the chance to get to know the people.  Relax.  Unplug.  Make lifetime memories. You're welcome.
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