The last couple of days have been filled with a flurry of activity that, while exciting and memorable, has actually been quite exhausting. On Saturday, weary from our travels, we made the decision to stay put on Long Island with my grandparents and aunt and allow them to dote on Isabela a bit. Having our fill of Southern food, and anxious to get my hands on some fall ingredients, I decided that I would cook dinner for the family. My aunt suggested a market close by called Fairway. This place was nothing short of amazing. It made Whole Foods look like a road side farm stand. From the unbelievable selection of fresh produce, to the cured olive bar, to the handmade mozzarella station, I was enamoured with the possibilities of what I could create. After perusing the offerings at the fish counter I decided on bouillabaisse, a traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille. Fairway had a beautiful selection of cod filets, littleneck clams by the dozen and some sweet shrimp that were just the right thing for a brisk fall day. These ingredients reminded me of a recipe I once made with Julia Child at Goose Cove Lodge in Maine where I worked one summer. She taught me the importance of making the “Soupe de Poisson” by sweating the shrimp shells, leeks, onions and tomatoes and simmering them for about an hour, straining and reserving the liquid to cook then cook the seafood (See recipe below). To accompany the bouillabaisse we found some freshly baked ciabatta and I decided to make a classic rouille. Amy chose to make her “infamous” antipasti of olives, cured meats, peppers, artisan cheeses with Ligurian olive oil.
Back to my grandmothers we went and started preparing dinner. Lisa, a chef friend of mine who was working in the Hamptons this summer, stopped by to meet Isabela and brought some Long Island sweets and a nice bottle of wine. We all sat in the kitchen around the island and watched the Florida Gators win, laughed, reminisced and snacked as we prepared the evenings feast. It’s days like this that remind me of how I was always in the kitchen with my grandmother as a child — listening to the elders tell stories and laugh all the while enjoying great food. Today, the torch had been past to us. This time my grandparents were the ones watching and enjoying our time together and I couldn’t be happier to be cooking for them.
Although I was raised in Central Florida, I was born in New York and will always be a New Yorker at heart. The Mets, Nicks and the Giants are my teams. A die-hard Giants fan since as long as I can remember, sadly I have never been to a Giants game in Giants Stadium, until now! When I was plotting the course for our road trip, I purposely scheduled our stopover in NY to coincide with a Giants home game (the other option was to first stop in Rhode Island to see my wife’s team the New England Patriots .. sorry babe). We awoke early, kissed Isabela goodbye, left her with my aunt and grandparents, drove through Manhattan to pick a few friends and headed to the Meadowlands. As we exited the Lincoln Tunnel and were approaching the stadium my anticipation grew. A short tailgate due to the chilly and rainy weather and we were at our seats for kickoff. What a beautiful stadium, we had perfect seats located just in front of the VIP area that housed many bars, food stations and lounges. Even though the stadium was packed this area seemed to have enough room for all to sit, relax and for the girls to stay warm. Although it was a shaky start, the GMEN pulled off a 41 to 27 win. Eli looked amazing, Bradshaw was a stud and Cruz hauled in 3 TD catches. A perfect Trifecta!
Still high from my excitement of my Giants game, duty called. Apparently Isabela was running the show at my grandparents’ house and it was time to relieve the babysitters.
I am so thankful to have this time with my family here in New York and for everyone to see Isabela for the first time. Until next time I leave you with…
Julia says it best:
This is the kind of food I had fallen in love with: not trendy, souped-up fantasies, just something very good to eat….the ingredients have been carefully selected and beautifully and knowingly prepared. Or, in the words of the famous gastronome Curnonsky, “Food that tastes of what it is”. (from My Life in France)
Here’s to you, Julia!
Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse with Rouille
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup each chopped onion and leek
- 4 cloves mashed garlic
- 2 or 3 large, ripe tomatoes
- 2 1/2 quarts water
- Fresh herb sprigs: thyme, parsley, fennel fronds and basil (in any combination)
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 3 – 4 pounds fish heads, bones, trimmings, shrimp shells
- 1 1/2 pounds each peeled shrimp (use the shells for the stock); wild cod, halibut and/or sole cut into chunks, and debearded, scrubbed mussels or clams
- Toasted rustic bread
- Rouille sauce (recipe below)
Heat the oil in a tall pot (I used an 8 quart stockpot) over medium heat; add the onion and leek and cook gently until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, water, herbs, saffron, salt and fish bones. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat so that the broth bubbles slowly without boiling. Cook 30 minutes, then strain the broth into a large bowl or another pot and discard the solids. Pour the broth back into the stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, a minute or two. Add the rest of the fish and shellfish, cover and simmer until the mussels or clams open. Taste the soup and add more salt and freshly ground pepper if needed. Serve the bouillabaisse with toasted bread and rouille on the side.
- 1 roasted and peeled red bell pepper
- 1 roasted hot red chile pepper or ground cayenne pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 small peeled garlic clove
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or finely chopped almonds
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
- Fine sea salt, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Puree everything except for the olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while processing to form a paste.