Thursday, June 26, 2008


No aroma of apoxy. No little clouds of fiberglass and paint dust fluffing up beneath our feat. No buzz of band saws, no whirring of power tools, no shimmying of sand paper. No forklifts. No painters in paper suits and respirators, no carpenters, no electricians.

Just silence. Pure and unadulterated silence.

Although we spend 5 days a week at the shipyard, we never actually see the yacht outside of its prophylactic shroud of drop cloths and particle board, without a few hundred workers buzzing about. But now, every speck of dust has been sweapt up. Every drop cloth and board hidden away. Every bit of blue painters tape removed, every finger print wiped. The hanger is still and peaceful, it reminds me of New York City after a blizzard. But the air crackles with excitement...

The owners get a taste of what they are in for
with cocktails and some tropical flora and fauna on the fly deck.

This is the first time Mrs. & Mr. X see the yacht with floors and ceilings, decks and cabinetry and counter tops in place. And, it will be the last time that any of us will see the yacht uncovered like this until the day of the launch, a mere FIVE WEEKS AWAY!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


It’s almost 11pm and I’ve been sitting up in bed in my pj’s for the past 3-hours reading cookbooks. Mrs. and Mr. X are coming to town this weekend with friends to see the progress on the yacht and I’ll be cooking for them on Monday at the crew house.

My friends over at oneasskitchen and rovinggasronome, knowing my love of all things Middle-Eastern, sent me the cookbook “SPICE: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean” by Ana Sortun of the restaurant Oleana in Massachusetts. After nearly 3 hours, I’m not even half way through the book because I just have to savor every page and every recipe. The book is ingeniously organized by herb and spice combinations – “Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom”, “Saffron, Ginger, Vanilla”, “Mint, Oregano, Za’atar”, etc. and I just love it. I’m so inspired and I’ll definitely be trying out some recipes for the party on Monday. A recipe for grape-leaf wrapped swordfish already inspires me and am thinking maybe grape-leaf wrapped salmon instead, with an Egyptian coriander and garlic sauce or avocado hummus? There is also a recipe for seared scallops with orange saffron butter, but I’ve been seeing halibut cheeks everywhere at the market here and I’m thinking those might be really good with the orange saffron sauce instead. Halibut cheeks have a sweeter, more moist and buttery texture than halibut – they almost remind me of crab. But I haven’t had them in a while so maybe I’ll test some out on the crew for dinner tomorrow night…

Apparently word got around that I made chocolate chip cookies to bribe the audio-visual guy for an iPod docking station in the galley, and a few more batches for the carpenters to change some of the shelving in my galley, as a request was made that the rest of the workers would really like it if I would make them some cookies too. So, yesterday I made 400 chocolate chip, chocolate-coconut chip and butterscotch chocolate chip cookies for all the guys at the boat yard. The cookies didn’t last 5 minutes, so I think they were appreciated and the captain said that people were stopping in the office to say thank you as they left the yard this afternoon. And, of course, cookies get me everywhere – so someone from the yard brought us 3 fresh Dungeness crabs from a local fishing boat today. They were the best crabs I’ve had all season and the crew had a good time gathered around the table with nutcrackers, seafood picks and bowls of melted garlic butter…

The bosses want to have lunch on the water on Sunday, before heading to the boat yard. So, I’ve spent the past week trekking across Seattle trying to find a restaurant with a decent view and good food. Unfortunately, this is an inverse relationship, which I suspected, but confirmed the hard way starting with Chandler Crab House where the captain, engineer and I sniffed our way through 4 Dungeness crabs that all had a severe case of tank-rot. Empty bellies and severely disappointed – we went home and warmed up some left over lentil soup from lunch. Then there were some flaccid, milky looking oysters and pasty chowder my friend Melissa and I had at Salty’s in Alki Beach, overcooked crabs (but great oysters) at Elliot’s Oyster House and an offensive smelling waiter at BluWater Bistro. I drove out to Anthony’s in Ballard, but I confess to being instantly turned off by any restaurant that uses the word “Banquet” on it’s sign, not to mention that it had the ambiance of a roller disco, circa 1976 – complete with mirrored walls, Nigel paintings, carpeting splashed with aquamarine and fuchsia geometric shapes and whicker furniture. Is a water view, good food and decent ambiance too much to ask?

I finally decided on Duke’s, on the water, near downtown. This satisfies the requirement of a water view, the people working there seemed friendly, a few of the crew have eaten the food on more than one occasion – and lived to tell about it - and the menu has a nice selection of chowders, crab cakes, seafood and burgers to satisfy the crowd we’ll be with and they make a very respectable bloody-mary. Plus, I thought Mr. Precious would appreciate the picnic tables and blue checked table clothes – heaps better than the Nigel paintings and tacky carpeting of Anthony’s! Besides, if there is any disappointment, it will surely be forgotten when they get to the boat yard and see the new paint job!

The yacht has been wrapped up like a Christmas present since the hull was painted – but it is being unveiled for the owners visit. All of the cabinetry that has been completed will be uncovered for their viewing also – so I thought I would hold off on posting pictures until she’s all unwrapped. After this weekend, I should have some great shots!

Mmmm, back to my menu planning…

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Philistines In The Galley – The PacoJet Chronicles, Part Deux

For all you Philistines out there that don’t yet own a Pacojet, let me tell you – the PacoJet is not merely a prohibitively expensive, jet-powered ice-cream maker, but also a highly-specialized food processing “system” that can make mousses, farces, terrines, soups, sauces, tapenades, concentrates, sorbets, ice-creams, drinks “and more”. It offers a “rewarding experience” and provides a “wholesome, natural” approach to “effortless” cooking, while producing a “superior” product that guarantees to “delight”. And, it allows you “exclusive” membership to an “illustrious circle” of a “over 10,000 Pacojet users”. At least that’s what the man on the users manual tells me.

The PacoJet even has it’s own semantics. To “Pacotize”, is to process something in the Pacojet. Therefore, the person making the product to process is the “Pacotizer”, while being in the act of processing something is “Pacotizing”. If I wake up one day itching to Pacotize something, is that a fetish or an addiction? God, I’m definitely not getting enough sex.

Oh, but I digress.

After freezing my Mochaccino frozen yogurt mixture overnight, I was ready to Pacotize! But the man with the bow tie had lots of “achtungs” and “wichtige empfehlung” in the slew of manuals that accompanied the PacoJet. I read and re-read the instructions and followed the step-by-step process carefully so as not to break anything…

The machine started up with a whirr and I was afraid that the PacoJet might just take off and hover across my kitchen. But it whirred and whirred and whirred – and luckily remained steadfast on the counter… After about 1 minute, all went silent. I pressed the button on the pressure valve, which released a blast of air and signaled that I could now remove my frozen treat.

The PacoJet requires that the base ingredients be frozen to somewhere around –10F, a temperature easily reached in the commercial freezers I’ll have aboard the yacht, but certainly not the case for the old side-by-side here at the crew house. So, the yogurt was a bit soft after the pacotizing – about the consistency of a thick milkshake. Nothing an hour or so in the freezer couldn’t fix – and this gave me a chance to test something else out as well. I had read that making ice-creams and sorbets in the PacoJet required that the bases be “tempered like hell” or they would not hold in the freezer without freezing up solid and thus requiring the product to be re-Pacotized before serving. So, after about and hour in the freezer, I tasted the Mochaccino frozen yogurt and the consistency was like that of the best gelato – dense, rich and creamy. However, my ingenius idea of making Mochaccino frozen yogurt – wasn’t so ingenius after all as the tartness from the yogurt, the richness of the dark chocolate and too much coffee powder made for taste bud overload and after two spoonfuls, I couldn’t eat another bite. But all was not lost. I left the concoction in the freezer for two more days, and it still maintained its perfectly creamy texture without having to re-Pacotize!

A few days later we had some wine service and bartender training for the crew – so I decided to test out a Riesling sorbet (with lemon zest and mint - and black pepper, parmesan biscotti on the side). The sorbet came out light and fluffy, like fresh snow! And the flavors far surpassed my frozen yogurt experiment! Although I would’ve liked to see how the sorbet held up in the freezer – it just didn’t last that long…

Monday, June 02, 2008

Easy updates!

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Paco Jet Chronicles, Installment 1

BEHOLD! The PacoJet has arrived!

I washed all its parts - so it's ready to test out!

Prepping for my first frozen treat!

Mochaccino Frozen Yogurt!

Into the freezer for 24-hours.

For posterity, let it be known that I am not responsible for purchasing that low-fat Ben & Jerry's or the Dryers Ice-Cream.
The Level 1 Vodka though - another story...

All dressed up...

and nowhere to go.

She's all wrapped up and ready for her first paint job which should be happening this weekend!

But, we've just found out that there are more delays and we won't be in the water until August 1st, departing Seattle in mid-September. Although the delays are a bit of a bummer, there are a few of us (namely, the purser, chief stew and myself) who will appreciate having the extra time. We have 5 massive shipping containers at the boat yard full of china, flatware, serving pieces, kitchen appliances, etc. that all need sorting through, not to mention all of the things we know we still need but don't have and all the things that we don't know we need and don't have and all the things we probably have but don't need, or don't have room for. And the Excel spreadsheets categorizing everything that needs to be checked and cross checked and double checked. And, I haven't even begun to research how to provision in all the crazy, remote locations we'll be heading into! So, a few extra weeks maybe isn't so bad... But we're still all anxious to be on board!

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