Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Christmas Ketchup...

Traditional Christmas Oyster Stew

Steak Tartar with Dijon, Capers, Shallots and Truffle Oil

White Asparagus Salad with Truffled Sheeps Cheese and an Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette

Fennel Crusted Black Bass with a White Wine Saffron Sauce

Grand Marnier Souffle with Grand Marnier Butterscotch Sauce and Chocolate Sauce

It’s been an exhausting month… After making our way down to Grand Exuma in the Bahamas, we were hit with a front of bad weather; rain and wind marring the guests itinerary for fishing and other off-the-boat activities. On December 23rd we made a hasty departure from Grand Exuma on less than 2 hours notice, to catch a weather window, and with guests aboard made the 24-hour run to Turks and Caicos. Otherwise, due to incoming bad weather, we wouldn’t be able to make it until New Years and we had more guests joining the yacht the day after Christmas in Turks and Caicos… We rushed to get the yacht packed for the passage – wrapping up vases and decorations, packing glasses and plates, checking portholes, etc. All of this, work enough without guests aboard, but now there were four! There wasn’t time to prepare any meals in advance, this meant I’d be cooking at sea – and with the wind at our nose, 7-foot seas, guests on board and my propensity for seasickness – something I was not looking forward to…

Steak Tartare

Emerald Bay in Grand Exuma is a tricky marina to enter and exit even in good sea conditions. It is a narrow, unmarked channel with a blind entrance, waves breaking across the channel pushing any entering or departing vessel straight into the reef. Our captain, an experienced delivery captain bringing yachts to locations around the world and having braved many a storm, was white knuckled at the helm as we entered the marina towing our 32-foot Boston Whaler, the crew positioned on the aft-deck, radios in hand giving the captain the grisly details of how close we were to hitting the all-too-short craggy, sea wall. Once inside, the marina was barren and desolate but for a few small sailboats and sport fishing vessels. A Greg Norman golf course and an endless expanse of construction for a new Four Seasons resort would be pretty in the right season, when the work on the marina was complete. But at this time, it looked like a post-modern utopia abandoned by its inhabitants forewarned of an alien invasion. But the golf course did make for a nice run; sit-ups and push-ups at the 14th hole against the backdrop of a tumultuous sea and foreboding skies…

Fennel Crusted Sea Bass

We set out of the marina in rough seas, the guests paying witness to the veracity of the life us crew live every day. Our mate drove the Whaler out of the marina rather than risking the harrowing passage with the whaler in tow and instead decided to tie the tow lines once we were outside the reef. This proved to be equally hazardous as the crew were practically washed off of the transom trying to tie up the Whaler, and the anchor smacked into the yacht before we could push the tied up Whaler back… We (the crew, not the guests) kept watch in 2-person, 4-hour shifts and since we are only a 4 person crew, this meant sleeping in shifts of 4 hours. The seas were rough; the guests were seasick and decided to camp out on the settee in the pilot house and main salon.

After the Whaler was secured and we were underway, I made myself comfortable on the settee in the galley and as seasickness set in contemplated my current situation wondering what “simple” thing I could throw together for the guests to eat. Of course, nothing about cooking at sea is ever simple. The captain suggested lasagna. This meant making a sauce – not going to happen. Stir fry? That would mean making rice – not going to happen. Everything I thought of cooking would require boiling something. I sat in the galley; knackered from a month without a day off, a tiring watch ahead of me, scratching my brain and wondering what I could possibly prepare for dinner that would be easy to cook, and easy to eat, in high seas. Fortunately, the guests turned out to be too seasick to eat so it was frozen pizzas for the crew, saltines and ginger ale for me.

Grand Marnier Souffle

We arrived in Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos at 8 a.m. Christmas Eve. And, of course, the first sign of the passing of seasickness is that the appetite comes back with a vengeance - and so it was, with the guests and crew. After unpacking the galley and getting it back into (somewhat) working order, I busted out breaky for guests and crew. The crew set to doing an exterior wash-down which would take the better part of the day and after breakfast I immediately set into prepping for a 5-course Christmas Eve Dinner – a day behind on my prep list…

(More updates and pictures coming soon - our bandwidth is too low to upload! AGGGGggggg... and, I'm just plumb exhausted...)

1 comment:

prcrstn8 said...

"Fortunately, the guests turned out to be too seasick to eat"

Har har (barf!)

Missed you!

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