Monday, June 21, 2010

Cove cuisine

About the last thing I did before heading north for summer was finish reading a very fun book called “What would Keith Richards Do?, by Jessica Pallington West. As the author describes it, the book is a kind of unofficial or unauthorised Keith Richards tao. It's a great read. Keith's Commandments are screamingly brilliant. Reading the book was, of course, just an appetizer ahead of sitting down to Keith's 400 something page magnum opus due out around October this year. Getting the tao coincided with getting a copy of the re-issued “Exile” – containing the dozen or so previously unreleased tracks – and pre-ordering the magnum opus.

The Keith tao concludes with Keith's mum's recipe for Shepherd's Pie which, according to Keith, is “the one food I can eat 365 days a year”. So, I promised that soon after arriving at Bottle Cove this summer the splendor of the experience should be accompanied by two foodie events: a lobster feed, and a good outing of Keith's mum's shepherd's pie.

The pie came first, and it was wonderful. It actually lasted 3 nights. And there is something to be said for watching the tide roll in and out of Bottle Cove, whatever weather the Gulf of St Lawrence is throwing at it on the day, eating shepherd's pie and drinking a cold Budweiser, aptly advertised as “the world's best beer”.

According to the tao of Keith, you gather together 3 pounds of potatoes that you peel and dice, together with a tablespoon of butter and as much or little salt and pepper as your taste dictates. Besides these ingredients you will need 2 pounds of ground beef or lamb. (Purists say that if you use beef it is, strictly speaking, cottage pie. Keith's mum used beef and Keith called it shepherd's pie, which means that here, as elsewhere, the purists can go jump in the Cove.) Along with the beef you'll need a pair of chopped large onions and a pair of grated carrots. Gather 18 ounces of beef stock and a tablespoon of corn starch, and you're ready to go.

You cook the potatoes til they are tender, and add some salt and pepper, and put this to one side. Then you heat a fry pan or skillet and add the ground beef and onions, with some salt and pepper. Then put in the carrots and stock, mix in the corn starch and cook for 10 minutes or so. When it's done, put it in a pie dish and cover with the mashed potato. This then goes under a griller until the potato browns a little, and you're good to go.

We used to eat this pretty regularly as kids, but there's something special about doing it to the beat of Keith's mum's drum.

And washing it down with a Bud or two at the Cove.

Having finished the pie last night it was time to contemplate the lobster feed. On the way up to Halifax and Truro for working a couple of weekends back we overnighted at a place called Shediac, on the New Brunswick shore across the strait from Prince Edward Island. Shediac had called out from the Lonely Planet as a likely place to stop. So it proved. There was free public access internet on the old wharf, now turned into a board walk. And a nice newly renovated motel in front of the drive in movie theatre. We asked the owners about lobster meals – it was still a week or so ahead of the season opening – and they responded by asking us in turn if we wanted a lobster dinner or a lobster feed.

As anyone who has ever written anything we've ever published will know very well, this is the kind of distinction we can relate to. There is something indescribably majestic about its discriminating power. So we stored it away until we were in a position to do it justice.

That turned out to be today. Like all good distinctions there is ultimately only one side to the story, and so the feed it was going to be. The only question was: “when?”

As it happens, today did not dawn as the likely day. There was banking to do in Corner Brook – a small matter of trying to wire money to Mexico for paying the insurance premium on the apartment. But on the way we called into the library to see if the summer hours were operating yet, following the end of the school year. (The library is the free public internet site. It has wireless, which you can get from the car in the car park – shades of Shediac – but long stints call for working inside.) The note on the door informed us that today was a public holiday. A call to the bank affirmed that. There was nothing to do but head back to the Cove and do other things. Just before reaching our place Michele wondered whether it would be a good opportunity to go to the Little Port wharf and see if there were any lobster. So we went to the wharf and within a few minutes had 3 good sized lobsters.

Washed down with a chilled 2004 bottle of Matua Valley Chardonnay (Matua is one of New Zealand's better wineries, imho), and accompanied by some garlic buttered pita, and a simple salad, the meal may well have dissolved the distinction between a lobster dinner and a lobster feed.

Which, I guess, is how it probably should be, with modernity behind us now.

Happy summer!!

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