Way back in about ’04 or so, our buddy HW was having a birthday. Somehow, we decided to have a pig roast. Thing is, none of us had ever smoked a whole hog before. We found a website from three guys in Miami about Cuban style whole hog. We got some cinderblocks at home depot, and got to work. We had a crazy amount of people show up, we had shirts made, and everyone left tipsy and full. It was a great success. This year marked our 11th Anniversary, and 10th O’GF. Things have changed since college, but when we’re all together its just like old times. Here’s to 70 more!
I was missing the beach today, and thinking back to a trip to the OBX I took almost a decade ago. My buddy RP made some ceviche and it was delicious. I realized I’d never tried to make ceviche so I decided to give it a shot. After googling a few recipes, I decided on a general game plan. To make ceviche, you basically get about a half cup of citrus juice per pound of seafood, and marinate it for about 20 minutes. I decided to use swordfish, scallops, and shrimp. I broke out a chef’s knife I got for xmas, and cut the seafood into small chunks. Instead of cutting up onion and tomato, I found some fresh pico de gallo at the grocery store. It had cilantro in it already, but I bought extra because I’m a fan. For heat, I went with seranno peppers. I sliced them as thinly as possible.
The interwebs told me to marinate/cook the seafood in the citrus for 20 minutes, but to add the rest of the ingredients right before serving, so that they don’t get mushy or let their colors run. I juiced about 8 limes per pound of seafood, and a lemon and half grapefruit as well just to give it a little something extra. The grapefruit reminded me of a Papa Doble (recipe found here), so I decided to do a little riff on that drink with my ceviche. I added a little marachino liqueur (a little goes a long way). After 20 minutes, I drained most of the citrus juice, combined the rest of the ingredients, added some pink sea salt and pepper, and we were in business.
Despite having the ingredients to make a Papa Doble, I decided to try a cocktail I saw on twitter instead. The Paloma turned out great, and is definitely a good alternative to a margarita.
The ceviche turned out great. My car read 101 degrees today, so a light refreshing meal was exactly what we wanted. I’ll definitely be adding ceviche to my repertoire. All and all it took me about an hour to prepare everything. Longer than the 10 minutes it takes me to grill a steak and put dressing on a salad, but worth it when you have the time. Crack a pacifico, whip up a paloma, or make one of Hemingway’s favorite drinks, and give it a try…by rsiv with no comments yet
The night before the pickin’, I got four key lime pies from America Seafood Company (behind Arrowine). They make a mean key lime pie. Short of my wife’s, mom’s, and sister’s (in no particular order), they make the best I’ve had. The next morning I iced down some beer, and Lil gave me a road cigar for the ride to the market.
We went to Jessie Taylor at the Maine Ave. Seafood Market, because they always do us right. This year they threw in a gratis dozen, and a half pound of large head on shrimp.
After a quick steam, we grabbed the bushels, shrimp, and headed home to start pickin’.
The Dead Rise beer from Flying Dog was delicious. You can taste the old bay, but its very subtle. Its got a nice summer ale base behind it. The killed the whole case, so I’ll have to go get some more.
The crab, beer, and key lime pie was amazing. This is just about my favorite meal. After what felt like hours of picking, I was food, and we started picking for crab cake leftovers. The Penn’s are seasoned vets, but Jodi was also holding her own.
Then it was bubble party time.
After everybody rolled out, I had once last beer, and enjoyed the weather. It was a great day, with great friends and a great family. Thanks again to Lil for the crabs.by rsiv with no comments yet
I’ve made some really good food the last couple of days. The first was last week when I realized we had a lot of hummus and tzatziki leftover. I instacarted some ground lamb, feta, and salad. I pan fried the lamb burgers with some oregano, feta, and herbs de provence mixed in. Then I just put some baby kale in champagne vinaigrette on the plate with the leftover dips, and we were in business. I’ll have to remember this recipe. Its easy, fast, and delicious. Then FJ took me to pick up the M3 at Martin Motorsports. Gary has been taking care of my M3 for over a decade, and he is the best in the area. He has done everything from oil changes to transmission replacements for me. I cannot say enough good things about Gary or Martin Motorsports.
I enjoyed a small success in working from home some this week.
On Thursday, Lemuel and Caroline came in to town. Caroline was headed out to Morocco with LeBeef. Lemuel gave her a ride and then picked up a motorcycle in Charlottesville. We had dinner at Gypsy Soul.
The food was decadent, and everyone had a great time. EF was particularly good that night. She was all smiles and hardly a peep.
The fried chicken, steak, and mac and cheese were standouts. The chicken and dumplings were pretty good as well, and I’d say my catfish rounded out the bottom, despite also being quite good.
Friday, we started on a walk to Mad Fox, but a delicious scent of curry wafted through the air, and like a siren, it pulled us off course and to its door.
I ordered the Junglee Laal Maas. The waiter asked if I liked spicy food, as its a very spicy dish, but before I could answer, HB interjected that not only did I like spicy food, we were insulted that they asked, and that they should try to serve me something too spicy just too see how futile it would be (or something to that effect). I was then served the spiciest dish I’ve ever consumed. I felt dizzy while eating it.
But it was so delicious, I even had the leftovers the next day…
…but that was a terrible mistake. I tried to preempt the inevitable by taking some peptos, but I learned my lesson about trying to play god with my bowels. Nature must take its course and some things are not meant to stay in the body. My tum was not right for a long time, and I would get woozy off even one beer. Something was not right. I feel OK today (5 days later), but its taken me that long to feel right. Moral of story (HB), don’t taunt the waiter when he asks if you can handle India spicy.
Later that week I made some chicken and waffle sliders with some WV apple sauce for breakfast.
Since it was a nice day, I made some Barbados Rum Punch, and we got some salteñas and fried yucca for lunch. For the rum punch, use mount gay eclipse (or at the very least, something aged), and freshly ground nutmeg.
Then we did a little porch sitting with a glass of mount gay eclipse and a bolivar. I’ve been loving this spring weather.
On Saturday, we went to the farmers market and got some crabcakes for lunch.
Then I put my germinated tobacco seeds in plugs. I’ll post more about my tobacco crop later on, or search my archives about last year’s harvest.
On Easter Sunday, FJ and I went to Jefferson to get a quick 9 in (yes I ended that in a preposition, deal). Sunderland came off with a big win, 3 points, and hopefully, a better chance of not getting relegated.
With LeBeef out of town, we still decided to do a family Easter dinner. I had an irreverent idea/good recipe I thought would work with rabbit, so I went for it. I quartered the rabbits the night before, and put them in a brine of salt water (1/4th cup salt, half cup water or so), bourbon, and freshly chopped rosemary. After golf, I got the smoker going (but you could also do them on the grill).
I used FJ’s trusty blowpoke to regulate the temp.
It smelled delicious.
A while back, I found a different kind of rib recipe. Its basically just balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper, and rosemary. It works really well with pork, but I had a hunch it would also work well with smoked rabbit. I never follow a recipe exactly, but I did use the same ingredients. I used a different brine/marinade overnight, and then since there is a lot of sugar in the sauce, I only mopped the rabbit about an hour or so before it was done, and then added some extra sauce when I took it off. Otherwise, the sugar in the sauce might burn on you (especially if grilling it at a higher temp).
While we waited, I enjoyed the weather with a few beers. If you aren’t up on this Innis & Gunn (thanks CK and Ryan), you don’t know what you’re missing.
LeBeef facetimed us from Rabat.
Otto played with the girls.
And after trying to stoke the smoker up to caramelize the final glaze, and putting the corn on the bottom rack, I managed to start a brief but intense husk fire, which didn’t mess up the food, but was dramatic none the less. Everyone was superlative about the meal. CK said it was in her top 5 of all time. If you want to recreate it, I think I smoked the corn about 45 minutes at about 220-300 or so, and the potatoes can be on as long as it takes the meat to cook. I’d actually have preferred to pan fried the taters, but I didn’t have time and I didn’t want to mess up with kitchen with LeBeef gone. Season the potatoes with the same balsamic, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne, rosemary marinade as the rabbit. Again, due to the sugar, I’d add the marinade towards the end of the cooking process. Spray or mop olive oil on the corn before you smoke/grill it, then butter to serve.
After dinner we had blueberry pie and decorated eggs.
Then the next morning we had some hot cross buns for Easter that we got from the Amish shop over at the farmers’ market.
Monday was opening day, and FJ invited me to the ballgame.
On the way, in the convertible, we saw the first cherry blossoms starting to pop out, and the paddle boats are on the water.
I had a footlong and a beer.
We didn’t come away with a win, but with spring and baseball back, one can’t complain. Especially me. Spring is finally here, I’ve been eating well and seeing family, my girls are doing great, and I’ve got two golf trips on the horizon. Life is good.by rsiv with no comments yet
EF saw her first flowers, so it must be Spring. In celebration, I decided to fire up the grill.
While we were out shopping for St. Patrick’s Day, I happened to be in an ABC store in which the owner of Garofalo Artisan Liqueurs was giving a taste test of his Night Life coffee liqueur. I had a sip, and it was pretty good. He told me it was Virginia made, and I was sold. With the weather as nice as it was, I decided to make the revolver cocktail, light up a boli, and get into a good book. I didn’t have any oranges for garnish, but followed the recipe otherwise. I really enjoyed it. The liqueur has a rich coffee flavor that isn’t too sweet. For my taste, I think a 50-50 ratio of bourbon to Night Life would be better, but I’ll let you know once I have a chance to try it out.by rsiv with no comments yet
If you’re tired of restaurant and baby posts, you’re in luck. We finally had a guys weekend in WV for an upland hunt. Due to certain other responsibilities, our usual fall hunt didn’t work out, so I thought a nice spring hunt would be nice. I did not expect a March blizzard.
It was a little dicey getting up there. The toll road was crazy, but my 4wd had it covered.
At the woods, the driveway had about 8 inches of accumulation.
RP made us some ghetto hot dogs (bread for a bun), and we had moon pies for dessert.
Then we settled into our sleeping bags (to avoid doing laundry), and called it.
The next morning was plenty cold, so there wasn’t much melt.
I grabbed a jazz cigarette, and a filling meal at the waffle house (on the left), and we headed to the shotgun range.
I put it in four wheel low, and we headed down a back road in the wildlife management area.
The snow came up to the bumper between the wheels, and at about the time we took this photo, we lost cell service. There were some tire tracks, but we never saw a soul.
But we made it.
We measured out 40 yards, and set up the patterning board.
We tried some different ammo, and a couple chokes. I’ll post the results of our patterning later on.
After patterning, we had a little fun throwing our own clays. The new thrower I got worked out great.
After about three hours, we warmed up, packed up, and headed out.
After shooting, the truck started right up and we got out of the snow no problem.
When we got back to the cabin, Dr. Bumpy was waiting for us. The rest of the guys arrived, and we rolled out to the Long Branch Saloon for dinner.
After dinner, I had a Kirkland Light (I would not recommend it), we started a fire, and enjoyed the 8 degree temp on the screened porch.
The next morning we did a little sledding on the first hole of Stoney Lick.
Then it was time to head to Quail Hollow Farm for some upland hunting. The weather wasn’t ideal, but Steve didn’t want us to go home empty handed.
After a warming up with some clays, we geared up for the hunt.
Steve turned the dogs loose, and we were off. It was a really beautiful day. The quail have flown better when its dry, but to their credit, there were plenty we missed.
Badger and Molly were great as always, but someone was misbehaving and got the leash…
Everyone took a bird or two, and Thom had some particularly nice shots.
After the hunt, we cracked some beers, pulled out the cigars, and put in a lip or two.
The dogs snuck a few spoils of the hunt while Thom and Steve cleaned the birds.
Steve’s son came and sold us some apples, apple sauce, hot sauce, apple butter, etc. We left prepared for a feast.
Back at the cabin, we toasted to Zeiby’s and ML’s first upland hunt, and dried out.
RP and Bumpy bacon wrapped the quail, and threw them on the grill.
The feast was delicious. Thanks again to the chefs. After some midnight toddies, I had to call it. Fortunately, I woke up to some freshly made crunk food the next morning.
Then RP made us some biscuits and gravy.
Bumpy blew an alternator, so we went into Berkeley Springs to try to replace it.
After some McD’s, we stopped at sheetz for some gas. I noticed some guys in a sedan wearing button-downs tucked into chinos. I looked them up and down while gassing up the truck, and gave them the, “you boys ain’t from around here” look. They bought it, which is hilarious, since neither am I. FJ is probably mortified, but the other Wayne boys would be proud.
I came home exhausted, but with a cooler full of birds. As always, I had a great time with the guys. It had been too long. Can’t wait for next time.by rsiv with no comments yet
EF’s shots finally kicked in, so we are liberated from the house. We decided to celebrate our first night of freedom at Del Campo. Del Campo takes its inspiration from a Latin American Estancia, and its menus did remind me of my time in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Even better, at Del Campo, they seem to agree that everything tastes better off a wood grill. Even the sea salt and olive oil have a touch of smoke.
I started with an Encanto del Campo which was peppery, just sweet enough, with lime, mint, and delicious all-spice. The rest of the group had the Limonada Sucia, the Dirt and Smoke, and a Pisco Sour. The first two were most interesting, but I think the classic pisco sour was my second favorite.
We cheers’d, and EF cheers’d with leche de madre.
The smoked oysters with chorizo and butter were divine, and made for an excellent appetizer.
FJ and Swaggy-we started with the smoked uni, angel hair, and caviar. It would not have been my first choice, but it was decadent.
Del Campo had a special on a bottle of Rioja, which was excellent. Then came the asado. We had the short ribs, rolled wagyu skirt steak, del campo chorizo, and morcilla blood sausage. I really liked the short ribs, but the wagyu was pretty dang good. The board came with bone marrow, which is awesome. I doubt that many would order marrow, but this way, I bet a bunch try it for the first time and fall in love. Classy move.
The grilled swiss chard may have been a little too salty for some but I loved it. The chimichurri was decent but nothing special, while I found the salsa criolla delightful. However, the meat certainly stood on its own.
Surprisingly, we had a little room left, and as it was a celebration, we ordered dessert. If you read the blog, you know sweets are not my thing, but the crispy apple empanadas were delicious, and the tres leches twinkies really surprised me. The twinkies were good enough to be more than a gimmick, and the mango sorbet really set it off.
I enjoyed a nice madeira as a digestif, and we even got some complimentary last sweet bites.
Del Campo was worth the wait, and more than lived up to the hype. I had high expectations and they were exceeded. I hope to be back soon. Its definitely not the kind of place that I’d call baby friendly (no changing table in the restroom), but the servers were very accommodating, and we had no issues. We did go early which was key as the restaurant filled up quickly. We also managed to be as mannerly as possible since EF had her mom and mamaw there to keep her quiet. She hardly made a peep. If you’re looking for a great night out in Chinatown, give Del Campo a try.by rsiv with no comments yet
The day after Christmas, we decided to smoke a goose. I got up early and got the smoker going. This is about the time I realized I’d been a bit ambitious this year with a new bebe and everything. While cleaning the smoker, we saw we had about a gallon of duck fat in the water plan.
Shelier came out and cleaned it, while I was getting everything going.
FJ enjoyed a soak, and then went to see his personal trainer.
I cracked a beer.
For lunch, I fried up some leftover steak, eggs, and potatoes.
I wasn’t very happy with how the skin came out on the bird, but nobody complained. We smoked some potatoes in the goose fat. Then LeBeef and I made a spiced fig gravy.
Everything was great, but we definitely have some lessons learned/best practices for next year. The icing on the cake, was apple pie (not pictured, but homemade), with homemade whipped cream.by rsiv with no comments yet