Archive for 2006

Battle Expired Anchovy!

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

I did not think twice about provisioning a dozen tins of anchovies when I did our pre-departure Trader Joes run. Surely we would be eating Caesar Salad every night and would be out by San Diego. As fate would have it, lettuce lasts poorly without refrigeration and the romaine variety is all but nonexistent south of the California border.

Now, a year later, I have many, many tins of anchovies and they are all expired. More importantly, anchovies lose structural integrity after a year in the tin and turn into brown mush. Brown mush interspersed with wee bones. Let this be a lesson to you all.

But I am determined and stubborn–if not particularly foresightful–about such matters and so every one of these tins of anchovies must be used up at all costs. Soon.

What the hell do you do with anchovies if you can’t make Caesar salad? A good question indeed; one which I would love to ask the Internet but alas, there’s no internet here.

Answer #1: Anchovy and Olive (also expired) Surprise on Toasts!

Anchovies are not the only expired can around here; in addition, we have a can of imitation abalone that Joshua bought a few years ago thinking it was funny and which I have no idea what to do with. Also several cans of milk products: sweetened condensed, “table cream,” evaporated (which is actually liquid), dulce de leche, and lactose-free regular. Also, a small tin of those lame sliced black olives whose presence in our lives is a huge mystery.

We had a loaf of stale ciabatta to eat and so we wrapped the bread in foil and toasted it over the burner in a makeshift lean-to of various pots and pan lids.

Then I mixed minced garlic (two cloves), the can of anchovy mush (minus oil), the sliced olives further sliced, one tomato diced finely, grated parmesan cheese procured from an Italian deli populated with products from the actual country of Italy (this is what saved the dish), olive oil, pepper, and hot sauce. We ate this over the toast and it was quite tasty. Improvements could be made by using more exotic olives such as Moroccan oil-cured. Also, using fresh anchovies.

Answer #2: Warm Multi-Pasta Salad!

Flush from the success of the first Anchovy Battle, we did something very similar but with pasta. Many of the same ingredients went into the ‘sauce’: one large tomato diced, can anchovy sludge (sans oil), chopped green herbed olives (also about to expire, jeez!), garlic cloves (minced), tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, oregano, salt (only if necessary because the anchovies are already salty), pepper, and a pinch of chili flakes. Mix together and set aside. Boil water and make pasta of choice (we used an artful mixture of left-over elbows, penne, and shells). Mix together and voila!

Answer #3: Puttanesca Sauce!

Puta madre! Another tasty pasta creation that leaves me one more anchovy tin down.

Mash together: a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, half tin of anchovy filets (bonus: mine just happen to be already mashed; I also used the whole tin), three cloves crushed garlic. Now, take half of this mixture and sauté it with three chopped or crushed roma tomatoes until they are soft. Add the rest of the mashed sauce, two tablespoons of capers, half a cup of olives (like good ones, not those canned black pitted nasties), and pepper. You probably won’t need any salt after the olives and anchovies. Simmer over low heat an additional twenty minutes and finally serve over pasta. We used the last of our high-quality Jasmine penne. This would be excellent with a bit of parmesan grated over the top. If parmesan existed anywhere within a 100-mile radius of this boat. Which it doesn’t. So sad.

Answer #4: Miraculous Anchovy and Almond Tapenade (tossed with veggies)!

Jerry and Joni from Lotus gave us an awesome cookbook, which I highly recommend to anyone on a boat (The Cruising Chef by Mike Greenwald). The current revised edition is an excellent read with easy to deal with recipes introduced with great stories and much humor. Lotus had two copies and I ended up with an original first edition from 1977 and it is such a gem; it’s loaded with ink illustrations and delightfully un-PC recipes and stories (whale hunting! MSG!). I immediately scoured it for anchovy recipes and found this.

For veggies, I steamed some green beans until just about done. Then I fried a bunch of chopped almonds and several garlic chunks in butter until they started to turn slightly golden (the almonds take longer than the garlic so I suggest starting the almonds, then adding the garlic later unless you want crispy brown garlic pieces). Here is where you add chopped anchovy filets, according to Mike Greenwald. Here is where I diverged from the recipe. Gazing at my anchovy filets-turned-mush, a delicious almond-garlic-butter aroma wafting around the galley, I decided to just leave them out actually and I chucked the tin. I added the green beans and stir-fried them in the almond butter garlic, adding salt and pepper. Very tasty.

Answer #5: Happily Trashed Anchovy Tin!

Enough already. I’m sick of anchovies now.

Pink Rum

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Peychaud’s Bitters (three dashes)
Flor de Cana (maybe 50 ml; the point is to make it pleasingly pink)

May be served ‘warm’ (estilo Time Machine) but god forbid you drink it from anything less than a cocktail glass if you do. If one were so bourgeois as to have ice on hand, I guess one might serve this in an old fashioned glass over ice.

Western Panama

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

On Isla Venado I stabbed myself in the foot during a shellfish collecting accident. Lots of blood. Blood on the rocks. Shellfish abandoned. We had to paddle about a mile back to the boat with my foot wrapped up tight in my t-shirt to control the flow. Sadly it wasn’t bad enough for the captain to issue vicodin and I had to make due with the usual rum ration (and lentil soup for dinner).

We’re now in Ensenada Muertos were I’ve been on coco detail. I’m usually too lazy and too afraid of heights to climb the trees so we mostly just collect ones that have fallen on the beach. Something usually gets to ’em before we do though. Not counting the ones obviously opened with a machete they have small holes torn in the top with all the milk and meat gone. I don’t think the hermit crabs are strong enough so it must be the monkeys. I’ve seen one with it’s hand in one of those little holes. Looking guilty. We don’t have a machete which makes it really hard for this monkey to get the goods. I’ve been using the emergency hack-a-hole-in-the-hull hatchet and the back end of a framing hammer. It’s a lot of work.

Oh yeah, too much coconut gives you the runs so take it easy.

It’s not all wounds and work, of course. Western Panama turns out to be what I had in mind when we left San Francisco. Gentle sailing among many gorgeous uninhabited islands. A tan and topless Cheyenne at the helm. Lush jungle, warm water and cool nights. Really uninhabited, I mean we haven’t seen anyone in 3 days.

Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Shoreline. Golfito, Costa Rica

Golfito is set in a very protected little bay with steep wooded hills rising directly out of the water. The dramatic topography was rather a surprise after having gazed at it so much in our paper charts. The town itself is broken up into little chunks here and there strung out along the water where the hills aren’t too steep. There is a little runway at one end of town populated by a dilapidated shed that serves as the Alfa Romeo office and we went there to watch Mom’s plane land last Saturday.

Mom looked good and was obviously extremely happy to be back on the ground; we took a cab back to Marina Samoa where our attempts at ordering a celebratory cerveza were thwarted by a weekend-long ban on alcohol sales. Local elections in Costa Rica are a sober affair even for those who do not participate evidently and so we settled for warm beers over ice aboard the boat while we motored down to Las Gaviotas hotel where mom would stay. This end of the bay, cryptically labeled as a place where “unsavory activities” take place by Mrs. Margo Charlie’s Charts, is quiet and decidedly unpopulated and we anchored right off Mom’s hotel room. We kept our eyes peeled for said activities but actually never saw any other boat aside from the sport fishers taking off from the Gaviotas dock.

Peg and Cheyenne

The next day we headed out for some jungle action and hopefully some birdwatching; bordering the runway is the Golfito Wildlife Refuge and a hike to a waterfall. While we heard the tucans’ sweet cries and saw many cool butterflies and insects, what hijacked our little trek was the fer-de-lance. He was coiled up on one side of the grassy path and just sitting still, looking remarkably like a pile of dead leaves; every few seconds his tongue would dart out. He was very well camouflaged but I’ve had my snake eyes peeled since Bahia Santa Elena and spotted him right away. Dangerous snake (and freakish tropical malady) experts—and this one certainly had that poisonous look about him—we had him correctly labeled and decided that it must be a young one since he was maybe only 16 inches long. After about five minutes, he uncoiled and slid back up into the woods; the tip of his tail was yellow (we looked this up back at Mom’s hotel and discovered that young male fer-de-lances have a yellow tip). Mom, above all, was extremely pleased to have nearly stepped on one of the more poisonous snakes living on this planet and deferred trailblazer privileges to Joshua afterwards. Of course, once you’ve spotted one snake, all piles of dead leaves from there on out look startlingly similar to coiled snakes and our grassy adventuring slowed to a nervous crawl while we picked our way back to the ‘safer’ dirt paths.

Terciopelo aka Fer-de-Lance. Golfito, Costa Rica

Convinced that the jungle was fraught with danger, Mom decided to take her chances on the boat and so we sailed across the gulf to check out Puerto Jimenez. (Actually, after having a chance to eyeball the Puerto Jimenez ferry, it is fairly clear that the Time Machine is the more seaworthy vessel.) The wind and seas behaved beautifully for Mom with 5-10 knots and we made it across in a couple of hours. We found a great room in the Cabinas Jimenez for Mom—it was extremely clean and well furnished, the bathroom was ginormous (with a shower that was probably the awesomest shower we’d experienced since the one in the Santa Barbara Yacht Club), and it had a small porch overlooking the bay. The owner is an American ex-commercial fisherman named John who was happy to give us all sorts of recommendations about what to do and see in the area and was generally a very nice guy. We did a lot of sitting around on the porch gazing out over the water and enjoying the fruits of the mini-fridge and coffee maker that came with the room.

boats at Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica

[There is a large shallow shelf in the Puerto Jimenez bay before it drops off and gets really deep; anchoring the boat was tricky. Inevitably, it would be low tide when we had to go back to the boat making the trip always a long muddy slog.]

Although the election-drinking ban was still in effect (on my birthday the day before, fer crying out loud, we hung out at Mom’s hotel room and furtively drank a bottle of wine before heading out to dinner), we were able to convince one of the local tiendas to sell us a six-pack only after we promised not to stagger through the streets, dropping crushed cans in our wakes, and generally making it known to the larger universe where three people of obvious voting age had obtained the contraband. We had an epic walk up the coast the first day and then sailed the boat to check out a botanical garden on the mainland side. It is sort of an interesting story really: the couple traveled all over Central America and bought the land some 30 years before and started a garden, knowing nothing really about plants; they intended to grow fruits and vegetables for themselves and sell cocoa for extra money. Costa Rican soil is good for growing things and eventually, they had elaborated and diversified, collected interesting plant samples from all over the area, and now they are extensively knowledgeable about local plants and their garden is flat out impressive. They support themselves by giving daily tours in the mornings and all other times, give you literature to take yourself on a self-guided tour. We took about a zillion photos.

For Mom’s birthday, we went out to what was touted as being the best restaurant in all of Central America and I believe it. Jade Luna is located just outside of the main part of town and the setting is very tranquil. So often I feel that the ‘fancy’ ambiance (like, linen napkins sculpted into reposing swans and whole families of forks and knives) of restaurants so rarely lives up to the quality of the food, certainly in Central America—with tourist resorts being a glaring example, but this one was perfect. The place was run by an American culinary graduate from New York and she has good taste. The French bread was dense and chewy and the butter served with it was ice cold and actually incredibly good (butter in Central America is just bad), they brought out complimentary conch fritters with a curry dipping sauce (bonus points!!), our martinis were icy cold and enormous, and everything on the menu was well-described in detail and looked excellent. We all split a salad with golden fried goat cheese (I am a sucker for any salad that boasts warm goat cheese), pears, and pistachios with a mango dressing. Mom and Joshua had the pork chops that were rubbed with coffee, among some other more conventional meaty ingredients (which I forgot), and grilled. These were excellent, as was my chicken breast served with a curry yogurt sauce over a tangy chutney. The portions were very generous and we ate everything and then ordered ice cream for dessert. We ordered one scoop of rum raison and a slice of one of her pies (kahlua and coffee ice creams I think); the rum raison was definitely the standout, ice cream-wise but the piecrust was delicious. Anyway, the place is highly recommended. (Our bill was in the ballpark of $25 per person, including tip and tax.)

Mom flew out from the teeny Puerto Jimenez airport back to San Jose where she would catch her flight back to the states the next morning. Joshua and I spent the rest of the day walking all over town trying to find anyone who would sell ice and the next morning, headed back to Golfito to get checked out of the country before the weekend started.

Dockwise Menace

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Dockwise ship

We had a bit of excitement last night when a Dockwise yacht transport cargo ship entered the bay and anchored right next to us during the night. In the dark with this towering thing lit up bright as day it looked pretty close but when we poked our head up the next morning, the Time Machine felt seriously menaced. We watched it for a while and finally decided that it was at the end of its swing and wouldn’t get any closer so we took off to get chores done for the day. The ship is pretty interesting; they transport yachts (as one might guess by the name) and to load or unload them, the ship sinks itself midway so that the boats can float on or off. Throughout the day they unloaded a dozen or more big fancy sportfishers, which charged across the bay throwing up huge wakes in their haste to get tied up safely at the nearest marina docks. By the time we got back to our boat after running our butts off all day, it was around sunset and we were disconcerted to find that the ship had either moved or dragged anchor a few hundred yards until it was lined up parallel with us and only 100 feet away. Now it was clear that if it swung towards us on the anchor, it would cream not only our boat but possibly take out the docks at Samoa. Yeeg! We had been planning on taking off at first light (we still had to get gas and some more veggies) but it took us over an hour to reanchor in the dark to a spot where we felt safer. We were irritated and tired by the time we got settled and here we are, next morning, drinking coffee and still in Golfito. The ship finally left and here comes another dock transport not thirty minutes later. Now that they’ve anchored, it looks again like it’ll be somewhat nerve-wracking when they swing our way. I’m going to freak out when we see all the tankers around the canal!

Dockwise ship anchored at Golfito, Costa Rica

[Time Machine stands his ground against the big mean Dockwise bully! Actually, this photo was taken when we left the boat in the morning, when we felt we were still well enough away from the ship’s anchor radius.]

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell