Thursday, July 7, 2011

Coronado Concerts in the Park - New England Cuisine

We enjoyed a long, warm and glorious summer weekend in Mayberry. Tourists swarmed the island, parking was non-existent, and the only option was biking or walking to the next destination. Those, however, were also the safest options, with wine and sangria flowing freely at the Concert in the Park on Sunday, Bloody Marys galore at P & J's before the big Parade on Monday, and a new batch of sangrias and mimosas for sipping during the Parade.

Our culinary theme for Sunday's Concert was New England Cuisine.  I've spent a few days in Jamestown, RI, which reminded me of an east coast version of Coronado, and a quick in and out of Boston, MA, but I haven't had the pleasure of visiting any of the other New England states.

Renowned for its fresh seafood and down-to-earth regional ingredients, New England cuisine has been a staple of American cooking since the days of the Pilgrims, who wrote about the region’s bountiful “fruits of the sea.” Much of New England’s culinary traditions today can be traced back to the early English settlers, who began cooking with the ingredients found in the area’s fertile landscape. In the past 200 years, Italian Americans, Irish Americans, and coastal Portuguese have all left their mark on New England cuisine [The Culinary Institute of America].

Kai kicked off the celebration with Lobster Rolls. A traditional lobster roll contains the fresh cooked meat of a lobster, tossed with mayonnaise and served on a grilled hot dog bun or similar roll, so that the opening is on the top rather than on the side. The filling may also contain diced celery and/or scallion, or may use drawn butter instead of or in addition to mayonnaise. The sandwich may also contain lettuce, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Traditional New England restaurants serve lobster rolls (made with butter, not mayonnaise) with potato chips or french fries on the side. Unfortunately, while I was busy grilling White Clam Pies, they disappeared before I could get my hands on one.

Alec and Nina sported patriotic tees, Alec in the Cape Cod one above, and Nina in this one.

Nina made this dark, slightly sweet, New England or Boston Brown Bread.  Slathered with a little good!

I did manage to swipe a few of Alec's Clams Casino, a dish originating in Narragansett, Rhode Island, before they disappeared.

Although I bitched and moaned quite a bit during the preparation of homemade pizza dough, my White Clam Pies turned out quite nice. Pepe's Pizzeria Napoletana, in New Haven, CT, opened in 1925, and, to this day, Pepe's premier pizza is its white clam pie. It's made without mozzarella, and is nothing but crust strewn with freshly-shucked littleneck clams, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and a dash of grated cheese.

I added some fresh mozzarella to mine, and a little arugula salad dressed with olive oil and lemon, on top. For the crust, I used Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough, and I adapted Mario Batali's White Clam Pie and Food Network's White Clam Pizza recipes for the topping.

Mary and Geoff made it down from Del Mar to join us. Attempting to grill pizza in the park is challenging and fun, but I missed out on tasting many of the dishes in the process, including their scallop dish.

Geoff is looking rather tan and rested after their month-long vacation in Bali.  I am so ready to retire and travel to a few exotic destinations!

Jack and Sandra, just back from celebrating Sandra's birthday in Las Vegas, came bearing a large platter of sandwiches.

Nina wasn't kidding when she e-mailed me the week before the Concert, saying she couldn't decide between Lobster Pie, Brown Bread or Boston Cream Pie. She went with the Brown Bread and this lovely Boston Cream Pie. In 1996, the Boston Cream Pie was declared the official dessert of Massachusetts. It's not a pie, but a pudding and cake combination comprised of two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla custard or crème pâtissière, and topped with chocolate ganache. Nina glammed hers up with fresh blueberries, raspberries, and mint sprigs. The late afternoon sun wreaked havoc on the ganache.

Mom set her sites on Thomas Keller's Blueberry Cobbler, from Ad Hoc at Home, and I was able to secure the most beautiful, plump blueberries from Little Italy's Farmers' Market.

Keller's cobbler has more of a cake-like topping to soak up all the juices. Here's the recipe.

The evening was peacefully winding down, our tummies were full, our sweet cravings satisfied, and Brad was settling back comfortably into his chair....

And then it happened. Thankfully, I didn't see the stalk, and then the pounce, as Bridezilla decided to intrude on our circle of friends, and continue in her harassment and immature behavior. It appears the honeymoon was short-lived and she was bored dancing with Cheapass-Jackass her new husband.

She pulled poor Bradley out of his chair, dragged him out to the dance floor, and then proceeded to bump and grind him to pieces. Jim appeared very distraught, even more than he was earlier in the evening when he told us he suffocated five dozen mussels the night before (see Safely Storing Oysters and Other Mulluscan Shellfish).

Everything spiraled downhill from there. A eucalyptus branch snapped and fell, hitting the crowd below...

And Sparks spilled her vodka tonic all over Kellee's beautiful French pedicure and gorgeous sandals...

Fortunately, we were all able to recover by the next morning and make it to Bob's prime parade viewing site for the Parade, mimosas, and more sangria.

Bradley was able to relax, once again.

For my album of Coronado's Fourth of July Parade photos, check out NewfFacebook.


Carolyn Jung said...

Lobster rolls PLUS Thomas Keller's blueberry cobbler? Mmm, you guys know how to throw a perfect summer party. ;)

bunkycooks said...

You are too funny! Every time I think about this post I laugh. :) BTW, the food (as always) looks fabulous. ;)

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff, man that Brad guy has got it going on!!