Le Weekend. The Dinner. A Photo Essay

Curry Persimmon Chicken & Chips

2 Persimmons
1 Clove of garlic
2 Tablespoons of curry 


1 tablespoon of red pepper
Seasoning (of choice Adobo etc)
Place in the blender


Once you have a smooth blend
Take two organic birds
Cleave them in half


Peel the skin off the meat
Serrate the meat deeply
Smear the persimmon curry paste over the meat


Pull the skin of the bird back over the meat
Smear the inside of the bird with the puree too
Wrap tightly in tin foil.....


Do this for all halves of the birds


Place in a covered dish. Slow bake at 250
So the persimmon and curry can really fuse with the meat
And permeate in deeply


Make the mini Kebabs
Sausage
Chunks of ripe pear
Onion
Cloves of garlic
Chunks of ham
Cherry tomatoes

Slide onto wooden cocktail sticks


Bake at 400


The Chips
Sliced shoe string style
With smattering of red pepper flakes
The fresh juice from a lemon


Fry the chips in olive oil and sea salt


Best enjoyed with great company


Good wine


And a happy dog

Le weekend.
Le Weekend. The Season is Almost Upon Us. Chukka Magic is Here Again.


I find polo more aggressive and thrilling than rugby or county or international cricket. I've enjoyed and played rugby and cricket for a long time, long enough to know I am now officially too old to lose my front teeth...or break a bone.

There is something about the sport of polo that is raw and unhinged. The horses, the thundering of hooves, the tactical agility of the game. The dynamic field strategy.

The horses know. The players know. The horses can read the field and I secretly believe that the horses can read their riders and can intuitively read the game better than they can... 

So as winter unwillingly thaws into a brand new spring we find ourselves prepping for another season of Sunday games. 

Le Game. Le Polo. Les deliciously warm Sundays to come. The viciously fast, twirling and galloping chukkas. Horse magic. Fast dangerous action.

Last season we attended most of the Sunday games.....If we weren't in New York or on Martha's Vineyard or cooling off on the Cape. 

The action was remarkably intense...including a death defying situation when a player took a ball to the head at over 150 mph. Besides, the polo picnics defined the summer. They were divine. In a profoundly summery way. 






Le First Weekend in Spring. Of Cookery & Memories of Far Away Places.

Saturday. Went to the market early in the day and then came home and made breakfast. My very good friend sent me this article. I read it on the crowded platform of a train station while waiting for a train and started laughing out loudly. People looked at me oddly. 

I was wearing an old weather-beaten oilskin parka. Slim blue jeans, an old hand-knit woollen shepherd's sweater and a pair of very worn and well scuffed Australian outback Chelsea boots. At least I did not look insane. But every time I began to chuckle I knew I was being stared at. I could feel it. 

The market was its usual hustle and bustle. The produce was very fresh, and it is always nice to see my friends there.

    
I did my usual rounds. A big bone for El Perro (the dog) as usual. Nicely sliced a la Scott the butcher. Some smoked Turkey. Leg of lamb and other meaty goodies.


Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. I can't believe how much my diet has changed since I have moved here, and how much weight I have lost. But what I find particularly intriguing is how little I ate fish, greens and fruits when I lived in New York. Barely. If ever.

Mahmoud the fishmonger, had some excellent treats, lobster, and lots more. I bought the fish and the lobster, and was very happy about it, because now I could begin to construct the cookery of the day.

For brunch or late morning breakfast:


Fresh Coconut (with its water inside)
Sliced Clementines
The weekend paper
And a fresh grapefruit.


The meal felt very tropical. Very breakfast on the deep shady veranda of the old villa overlooking the lush if not slightly overgrown garden in full flower with birdsong everywhere. The dog lying nearby on the cool terrazzo floor and the old and muddied Mercedes G-class Gelandewagen parked in the palm lined driveway. Funny what sort of  thoughts a simple fresh meal can evoke. Memories of a life once had. Visions of a life to be had again and fully enjoyed.

The rest of the day wafted by and we relaxed and talked and read books and drew pictures and went for long walks with the dog. It was a very nice and warmly spring like day (unlike the horrible weather we have had and are about to have again....) and then as the evening settled in thoughts of cookery began to rumble.

Le Dinner

Garlic Lemon Coconut Lobster-Shrimp & Garlic Steak
Surf n Turf
S&T



6 small lobsters
The meat from a fresh coconut
One clove of garlic
Sea salt (half a teaspoon)
The juice from one lemon
Two teaspoons of olive oil

All blended into a fine puree

Set the oven to 400

Split the lobsters open symmetrically 
Clean them 

Then
Pour the coconut blend into a Pyrex dish
Place the lobsters face down (open side down) into the paste

Let it all sit there while you clean and de-vein some fresh shrimp

Once this is done add it to the lobster
Cover and place in the oven to bake

While this was baking I got busy with the fresh steak I got from Scott.

I made another blend.

This time I used:

Garlic (another clove)
olive oil (teaspoon)
Salt
&
Black pepper kernels

This makes a sort of bumpy blend because of the black pepper kernels

Smear this on the steaks (both sides)
Then place on a pre-heated cast iron skillet

There will be an immediate and lovely sizzling sound the minute the steaks hit the skillet, followed by a delicious aroma.

By now the lobster and shrimp dish was done.

The end game:



On the plate



The evening meal was resplendently decadent. We ate mostly with our hands and with a napkin always nearby. And with very cold, crisp white wine always willing and ready to flow. 

This meal did not evoke images of old colonial bungalows with deep verandas tucked into a lush garden with an old muddy truck parked in the driveway. 

With this meal, you could almost hear the sound of the Indian Ocean rolling in in the evening. That long Swaaaaaash.....followed by an almost silent Backswaaaaash as the surf rolled out again and out to sea. Reminiscent of star lit nights on the beach in Mombasa, Lamu, Malindi and Dar es Salaam. The sun-kissed  East African Coast. 




We talked well into the night and enjoyed the wine and laughed a lot. It was a very pleasant evening.

For today I have no idea what the cookery will be. 
The kitchen, in all its infinite wisdom, will tell me once I walk in there later today and don an apron.

Le weekend

  






Le weekend. A special Jerk Chicken recipe.

I saw this clove of garlic sprouting in the kitchen and I decided to take a picture of it. Seems as if even the garlic in the kitchen is happy that spring is nigh. I think I'll plant this one. Will also have to turn over the soils in the pots on the porch and plant the seeds for the summer. 

Sunflowers and  tomatoes are what we usually grow but maybe we can be adventurous this season. Will also have to move the herb box out of the cold but bright sun-room (It's really the flat's laundry room that has a southern exposure and is surrounded by four very large and wide windows so it really gets soaked with bright light year round and in the warmer months it's a great place to go and sit and quietly read in the sun. I put plants like the Clivias who like dry cold winters and the herb box there over winter since it gets cold enough, but always stays bright) at the back of the flat. 



And one of the Clivias is in bloom...


The Amaryllis is as of yet a leafy disappointment, but who knows, it may still surprise us with one of its deep red flowers. And the other Clivias in the old flat are quietly leafy. Almost seems as if they are brooding. Not like their happy friend here who decided to put on a good show.

Last night I made a Jerk Chicken that turned out to be quite delicious....

I'll share the recipe with you

Plympton's Jerk Chicken 

PjC

Two mini bottles of white Jamaican rum
One onion
One tomato
One and a half tablespoons of curry
One and a half tablespoons of hot red pepper (according to taste)
One and a half Table spoons of balsamic vinegar
Two tablespoons of olive oil
One clove of garlic
Two sticks of cinnamon
All spice seasoning
Two tablespoons of sugar
Crushed bay leaves
Some coconut milk (optional)

All placed in the blender and blend into smooth paste
Then put the blend in a crockpot along with the chicken (in this case thighs)

Slow cook on high for three hours

Then transfer the contents to a baking pan and place in a preheated oven set at 400 for 30-45 minutes
So the sauce can really cook down into a crispy glaze over the chicken (which by now should be almost falling off the bone)



Serve with a very cold dry white wine

Le Weekend. Le cooking.


Le Weekend. Amaryllis. Peace Lilys & Ficus cuttings.The Education of a Gardener.
Notes from journal.










Le weekend. Le scribbling.


Le Weekend. Spring. The Education of a Gardener. Estelle & other things....

One of my Clivias is beginning to bloom, and all the other plants in the flat are reaching for light. Literally reaching for the sun. All the curtains are pulled back today and light is flooding the flat. The dog is lying in a pool of warm golden light and as usual, it is eerily quiet outside. 

The days have grown much longer and the first true light arrives much earlier, but the light is still cold and wintry, except for one day last weekend when the light had that summertime golden edge to it that makes us all happy by default if we aren't already this way (hopefully we are). 

Longer days aside. Cold light or not, spring is here in 20 days. This is good news and I can't wait to change the title of this journal from "The Winter Journal" to the "The Spring Journal"....


Other than getting excited about getting past winter, life has been quietly the same routine....


Every morning I get dressed to go to work very early.....
At work, we have just completed an opus on historic park management and restoration


It's the master-plan of master-plans for historic park management and restoration. A benchmark standard Alpha Plan that is also fully three dimensional. It's not just a very (very) expensive book. It is a digital inventory and electronic plan of all the parks I co-curate with our public partners. Complete with the longitude and latitude of every major tree, shrub, bench, light pole, faucet, pipe, trash can....you name it....in the parks. 

Put it this way. Part of this master-plan is 800 pages long and that's just the inventory of trees. We've inventoried everything. So we have thousands of pages of data. But no problem. All the data fits tidily in my telephone, and on my tablet, and as long as I have GPS/Location finder on the phone turned on, I can find every single tree, bench, lighting fixture, path....complete with a digital record of its service history. So basically as I walk by any feature in the parks, as long as it has been inventoried, my phone/tablet will know exactly what it is. 

We are currently in the beta testing phase. So right now it looks something like this.
But once the App is ready, it will look a lot sleeker and be much more fun, educational and interactive.


And this is just the beginning. This is what makes it worthwhile getting up every morning at 3.30 am to get to work extra early to have more time in the day to work on this with our consultant. Now the word is out and the phones have started ringing and soon the speaking and teaching engagements will begin. That's the work scene....

The Home/Cooking Scene

I've been cooking.....


And making my usual rounds to the market....



Here is a monster Bonito 



That I had to cut up...never seen so much blood come out of a fish.... 

No Bonito today though. Today I will try and make octopus again...but I have no idea how to do it. Except to do it the same way I did it the last time, which was not quite perfect.....but pleasantly edible.



 However. I am determined to learn how to cook it properly and perfectly, the way my friend's mother does. 

On another note. L has been very nice to me and has taught me another big lesson in life. How to rest more. And how to sleep more. I have learnt that when I sleep, I heal. So even an old dog like me can learn a new trick....or two....from someone significantly younger.

L is her busy self as usual.....her current project has her working with her friend Estelle...


Last week she was giving away her VIP tickets to see Kanye West live...

Life goes on....day by day...

Spring is in the air...and it feels terrific!

Even El Perro seems more giddy outdoors and has a brand new bounce to her step...










Le weekend. The State of Affairs..


The view outside my office window this past week. 

As one winter storm passes, a new one called Pax arrives. Winter continues to be winter. The snow continues to fall, the cold remains cold. 

In the early morning today, I took the dog for her walk. I decided we would walk to the village grocers and get a few goodies. No errands or chores this weekend. It is too cold and too snowy and there is enough to cook in the house. But there was no bacon, or lamb sausage, so we went to get some so we could have a hearty breakfast. 

On the way to the store, I noticed how fast the jets were coming in to land at Logan Airport and I decided that Logan tower was bringing the birds home fast and tidy, ahead of the big storm that was scheduled to arrive later in the day. 

So in they came. First came an A320. Nose down, flaps out and dropping in a hurry, next a 757 "crane" for American Airlines. Slightly flared in approach posture. Again dropping quickly. Next came a small Cape Air twin engined Cessna. Coming in very fast. Nose slightly down in attitude. Cutting through the thin grey light of the early morning. 

The planes were landing in quick succession and as they flew over, I looked at El Perro and I said, "so it is true El Perro. A big and powerful storm is indeed headed our way, you know that sometimes these weather people can be very wrong, but the lads at Logan Airport tower seem to be in a hurry this morning and the planes are flying in fast and low to land, so there must be something serious in the air".    

El Perro wagged her tail and smiled and padded ahead happily.

So what to do this weekend. With yet another big winter storm coming?

Eat


Maybe not as greasy a burger as Hemingway would have liked. But the cookery will be similarly heartwarming.

Read.



And rest. 

Le weekend. Waiting for Spring.