Tag Archives: Shellfish

Eating the Heart

22 Jan

Most people I know have some kind of food that they turn to when they want comfort. It’s something familiar and safe, and it represents a goodness we all crave. We look for the goodness in our lives and we eat whatever that thing is to sustain ourselves. For some people it’s the classic hot tea and chocolate, or a grilled cheese sandwich, or maybe some horrifying combination of burgers and fries at your favorite guilty drive-through.

For me it’s cioppino. It’s a rich tomato-y stew originating in San Francisco that is filled with all manner of seafood: clams, mussels, oysters, cod, and prawns. It is somehow hearty yet delicate, intensely flavorful yet calming. I have eaten cioppino in a little seafood diner at Pike Place while laughing with my family. I’ve made it for Christmas dinner while my mom took videos on her fancy new phone, I of course am ruminating over the correct cooking times for the various shellfish. I’ve fallen in love, starry-eyed in a new relationship, over a bowl of the stuff, in a warm living room (in front of a fire no less… so sue me).

It is delicious and robust. It has heart. It has the inexplicable ability to make my chaotic life feel safe for a few moments. Don’t ask me how it does it because I don’t understand it myself. It’s been said for ages that the sea has healing properties, and a part of me likes the idea that perhaps eating a bowl of the creatures that reside there allows me to somehow harness their powers for myself. Pardon me for getting all universey-magic on you, but cioppino has a spiritual quality, like eating the heart of a bull.

eDSC_0416Longhorn’s get-Sally-feeling-rad-again stew

This is all to say that lately I’ve needed that… to feel warm and safe and happy and taken care of. Thank god my friend Jesse somehow knew that and whisked me down to Edison in the middle of the afternoon to find some cioppino. We went to the Longhorn after hearing they served it, though we found it’s not quite cioppino… it was essentially the same but with spinach and parmesan and ground Italian sausage as well.

Whatever, it totally did the trick. So there in the window in a bar in the middle of all those fields and all that salty sea air, between sloppy mouthfuls of oysters and garlic bread, I got right.

The only good thing about Eat, Pray, Love

5 Apr

Listen, I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talks speech about creativity. Brilliant! Inspiring! It’s what convinced me to actually attempt to read her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. Well, that resulted in my exasperated flinging the book across the room… so, of course when the movie came out on Netflix Instant Stream I had to watch it. Why? I dunno, I’m a masochist, I guess. I only made it a third of the way through the movie before I closed my Macbook and dashed to the store to buy mussels and pasta and heavy cream. Those first 30 minutes of her slurping pasta in Rome to a heavily operatic soundtrack was good for my appetite, but that’s about all it was good for. I picked up two pounds of Taylor Shellfish mussels and 1/2 pound of scallops, linguine, the expensive, divinely smooth organic Fresh Breeze heavy cream, and set C to work on dinner while I languished in hilarious conversation with C and my good friend, the beautiful and spunky Lexi. Another friend dropped in at the last minute, and although he’s gluten-free, still enjoyed some salad and a hefty pile of mussels and scallops drenched in C’s marinara.

Even though my photographs sucked, even though I don’t have a recipe or anything real to say, and despite the fact that I’ve felt too distracted and uninspired to food-write for weeks now, this dinner brought it back. Good, quality, relatively cheap food. Interesting, lively friends, some music, some whiskey, and a mouthful of shellfish. What more can you ask for to feel rich and supremely lucky?

It looks like I have Elizabeth Gilbert to thank for the end of my blog-writer’s block. No hard feelings on the book… it just wasn’t for me. But damn,woman, you sure know how to make a lady crave pasta!

Shellfish epiphanies

24 Aug

Until recently I hadn’t much dabbled in shellfish, probably because my mother has a deathly allergy to scallops and even though I know allergies aren’t hereditary, I had an inexplicable fear of my throat closing up and having to shell out (pun! pun!) ghastly amounts of money in emergency room fees lest my body suddenly decide to reject any and all sea creatures. But I put that fear aside and yesterday C and I drove down the coast to Taylor Shellfish Farms, a place I’d overlooked over the years on my numerous drives up the winding Chuckanut Drive. I had to drive 25 minutes and coerce my car into a tricky 4-point turn on a busy road to get there, but as we pulled up to the mudflats and surveyed the scattered industrial remnants of the historic farm, it was well worth it. Behind the oyster baths and muddy crab cages, wedged between a tiny and deliciously mysterious lighthouse and a trawler dubbed something hilarious like “Ellen,” (though I can’t remember the exact name) we entered the retail shop. We bought a modest pound of pink sea scallops and two pounds of mussels, dropped a whopping $12.50 (mussels are so cheap! Why don’t people eat them every day!?), and headed home.

We were hankering for a restaurant-worthy fancy Italian meal, so we boiled up some fresh linguine and C whipped up a sauce from heavy cream, parmesan, garlic, parsley, shallots, and white wine.

We sauteed up some mushrooms with halved cherry tomatoes and steamed the mussels and scallops in more wine and more garlic. Over the past year it has become wildly apparent that all you really need to make a fancy-ass meal is fresh ingredients and LOTS of garlic and LOTS of white wine. Everything is better when cooked in white wine. Why is that?

Suffice to say our meal was TOTALLY RESTAURANT WORTHY. And holy balls, are mussels pretty to look at. Pretty, and overtly sexual, YOWZA. I asked a coworker today why he and so many others were turned off by shellfish, and he told me that he thinks it’s the sliminess, but I think ya’ll are just PRUDES.

Don’t tell me that’s not something you wouldn’t pay for at a fancy Italian restaurant. Ok, well realistically I wouldn’t, but I would order it if my dad were taking me out for dinner. Or if I had a sugar daddy. Or if I were on a date with someone I recently realized was a total creep, but it was too late to leave and I already had the menu in front of me. Then I’d be like, “BAM I WANT THE EXPENSIVE STUFF. AND ALSO A BOTTLE OF WINE, SUCKER.” Which is probably why boys don’t take me out on dates.

Pretty, pretty! And the cream sauce! OH GOD THE CREAM SAUCE. If I keep up like this I’m totally going to gain a hundred pounds and then C is going to be all, “gross, woman, you used to look okay and now you look like an oompa loompa.” But it’ll be all his fault because he encourages my unhealthy obsession of drenching all dishes in copious amounts of heavy cream. As far as I’m concerned, there’s really no other way.

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