Thursday, July 31, 2008

The count down!

Ok, so, somewhere between the warehouse and the crew house - I've misplaced my camera. But sooner or later it'll turn up and I'll get some pics posted.

I've spent the past 3-weeks coordinating with the caterer for the launch party at the yard, the after-launch party aboard the yacht and the following evening launch party for VIP guests and crew and tonight we'll be working until well past midnight getting the boat cleaned and decorated for the launch tomorrow!

Mrs. & Mr. X have arrived - and the excitement is mounting. The yard will begin moving the yacht out of the warehouse sometime this afternoon - I'll definitely get pics up of that (even if they're only cell phone pics!)...

We'll be at the yard for another 6-weeks after the launch and although there is still a lot of work to do aboard the yacht at the yard - the crew begin watchkeeping this weekend and my turn is Sunday night. It's then that I'll be spending my first night on-board. Just little ol' me, plus our bosun and 40+ engineers, carpenters and builders. They'll be testing alarms all night - so I should get a real, sound sleep! ;o)

I'm so excited, I can't contain myself! The galley is looking incredible! But I'm really going to have to talk to the A.V. guy - I made him batches and batches of cookies in exchange for an iPod docking station. But is the docking station there? No, a CD player! I didn't even know people still listened to CD's, might as well put an 8-track in!

Well, anyway, I can't believe it's been more than a year since I saw the yacht for the first time - when she was just a shell... and now, we're going in the water! I'm thrilled, and now I just can't wait to move aboard and actually be cooking in the galley - but that won't happen for a few more weeks...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Castles in the sand...

Jimi’s guitar strums in the background, “hey Joe, where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?’… I inspect the bottles on the bar: tall, square, short, round, blue, red, green. I should’ve ordered the old fashioned, they make an excellent Makers Mark old fashioned at Black Bird Bistro in West Seattle (walking distance to the crew house); bitters, Makers Mark, muddled orange, cherry and a splash of soda. But instead, I sink into a second (very enjoyable) glass of Hogue Genesis Syrah just as a steaming plate of mac-n-cheese appears in front of me: little shells of egg noodles spooning a simple and light, nutmeg infused, mornaise sauce with cheddar, parmesan, blue cheese and topped with herbed bread crumbs – sublime.

I’ve been baking cookies for the boat yard all day – 11am to 7pm, 643 cookies to be exact. I have a headache the size of Mt. Renier, and as I work my way towards a 3rd glass of wine, I realize how much I miss just standing at the stove. Right now, I feel as though my day is parsed up, like lines of code in a debugger; grocery store, crew house kitchen, if-then-boat yard, yes-no-office, else-storage locker then yacht. I crave the day that all I have to think about is what to cook!

'Castles in the sand' belts over the airwaves… I love Jimi… I dream of sand… I rarely get stressed over food – because… well… it’s food. But today, I feel an obligation to be stressed – stress is the cheese to the crews mornaise…

I take another bite of this decadent mac’n’cheese. In a few months, god willing, I’ll be sipping an ice-cold beer on the beach in Playa Del Ray, or somewhere equally as marvelous. That is what I work for.

Mrs. & Mr. X arrive Wednesday night. I can’t wait to see them, their enthusiasm is my inspiration!

I crave to be in my galley – just a few short weeks away…

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Ketchup...

I know, I know, I've been remiss in blogging - but I'm still here! Blogging seems a luxury with everything going on right now and I have to give the impression that I'm working on something other than blog all day long...

The yard has been full of energy and the yacht is abuzz as we prepare for the big day. I can hardly contain myself! I can't believe we're finally launching! Only 8-months behind... The yacht seems to be morphing daily - tiles and carpet are installed, the shelving in my walk-in has been installed, equipment is being tested, and the big, gaping holes in the ceiling where wires once hung are being closed up.

It'll be about 3-weeks before we move aboard - but hey, at least we'll be in the water! We'll have sea trials throughout the next month; taking the yacht out and testing stabilizers, the engines, equipment, etc. and we'll do a short 4-day weekend with the bosses at the beginning of September, another longer trip mid-September, then another "brief" yard period and then sometime in mid(late)-October we'll finally head somewhere with sand and palm trees.

Going through a boat build is certainly an exercise in patience. 7 days until the launch - I'll be posting more pics between now and then and of course, pics of the launch!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


The ships whistle sounded - one long, continuous blast and then the general alarm. Never a good way to start off the day...

I rushed to the aft deck and could see thick gray smoke billowing down the hallway and pouring out the windows. “Cookie here!”, I yelled to our chief stew and immediately began helping the bosun and engineer into their protective gear; buckling, snapping, tightening straps... My fingers were nimble and quick. I heard someone yell something about an engine room fire, but I had no idea what was going on and I was too focused on what I was doing to ask... Zippers, face mask, gloves, helmet... Did you know that a fire doubles in size and intensity every three minutes? Imagine, on a fiberglass yacht – we’ll just melt! I knew there was no time to waste. The guys raced down the hallway laden with gear.

“Cookie, grab the hose on deck and cool the perimeters!”, the stew hollered. I raced upstairs and grabbed the hose. Then the call came over the VHF, “two fire fighters going in, full tanks”. I hosed the deck but could feel the heat rising from inside. Smoke and steam rose up around me. Heat vapors rippled the air. I could here yelling inside, but I couldn’t make out what was being said. It seemed like an eternity. Then the VHF rang out again, “Fire out, flash watch set, area cooled, two firefighters retreating”, “class B engine room fire, electricity down, all crew accounted for”.

“Good drill, guys. You’ve got to remember to keep chatter to a minimum over the radio’s, stay down low when you go in, communicate”, the two REAL firefighters said. “Now let’s pick two more people, gear them up and do it again”.

Today was firefighting training. All the crew has been through some basic firefighting before this when we each took our STCW course, but the STCW training was basically putting out a barbeque fire with different fire extinguishers – at least that’s how my STCW course in St. Martin went. But today, on a mock-up vessel, we actually battled major fires and learned how to handle ourselves in an emergency situation. It was a little spooky at first, to imagine scenarios like the ones that we were practicing. The captain said that fiberglass boats such as ours, any large-scale fire would most likely end in an “Abandon Ship Scenario” because the fiberglass hull would catch fire easily and melt. Not a situation I like to imagine at 8am, while I’m trying to enjoy my morning tea. The firefighters also said that if or when we call for help, we have to consider what kind of help we were going to receive in the types of places we’ll be. I could only imagine having a fire situation on some of the Caribbean Islands I’ve been on – you’d call for help and about 20 minutes later (island time, mon) some rasta would show up with a joint in his mouth and a bucket over one shoulder! In the South Pacific, our mayday calls might just be the dinner bell to a group of hungry cannibals! We’d be greeted by a tribe of savages carrying clubs and stock pots – and those stock pots won’t be for bailing water!

Would you actually trust this girl in an emergency?

It’s full steam ahead here at the yard. I absolutely can’t believe it. I feel like it has been forever; waiting, working, waiting, working… and I have so much to do now that we’re so close! I’ve been meeting with caterers and event planners for the big launch and mapping out where everything is going to go in the galley once we’re finally in the water. It is a tad overwhelming, but it feels great to actually be in the homestretch. The launch date is a mere THREE WEEKS away! We’ll be moving aboard sometime in mid-August and that date can't come soon enough. It will be such a relief to have adequate refrigerator space, then I won’t have to go grocery shopping every, single day! After that, it’s sea trials and then we’re outta here! And thank God. Seattle is nice, but I miss the sun!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Yacht 2.0

Sesame Parmesan Tuille with Dungeness Crab Salad and Gazpacho Sorbet

Slow Roasted King Salmon with Charmoula Spices and Avocado Hummus

Pork Tenderloin Crusted in Fennel Pollen and Toasted Orange Peel with a Grilled Peach and Red Pepper Salad

Basil, Tomato & Walnut Tabouleh

Raw Artichoke Salad with Arugula, Feta and Sumac-Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette

Baby Roasted Potatoes with Smoked Tomato Romesco

Cheesecake with Chocolate Crumb Crust and Cherry-Rhubarb Compote

Dinner at the crew house awaited the X’s and guests after a day spent at the boat yard. Feeling obligated to showcase my favorite new toy and let the X’s know how much I appreciate and will use my PacoJet, I started things off with a little amuse-bouche; a “Pacotized” Gazpacho Sorbet in a sesame parmesan tuille with Dungeness crab salad. It proved to be a hit and I’m now reviewing my list of restaurant grade kitchen appliances to see if there might be anything else I’ve forgotten – an airbrush for cake decorating or perhaps a commercial chocolate tempering machine? Strike while the iron is hot, I always say! (Perhaps when we upgrade to Yacht 2.0, with a galley twice the size… )

The main dishes of my menu were inspired by “Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean” by Ana Sortun, the cookbook given to me recently by a few fellow bloggers. This book instantly intrigued me because so many of the recipes reminded me of the flavors and dishes that I grew up with. Although, I was a bit skeptical of the recipe for a Basil, Tomato and Walnut Tabouleh as my family is Lebanese and tabouleh is one of those sacrosanct dishes of which the recipe is unvarying and absolute and to which my mother, grandmother and I could quite possibly be considered the Holy Trinity and protectors of our families recipe… But, I decided to yield to my cultural rigidity and give something new a try – even though I knew I could be damned to hell for such an infraction.

The recipe begins by making a pesto, of basil, parsley and walnuts and combining that with bulgur that has been softened with lemon juice. I found the texture of the tabouleh to be a bit mushy and my gastronomic altimeter went a little screwy trying to relate this to anything close to the tabouleh that I grew up on. The recipe calls for topping the tabouleh with sliced tomatoes, garnished with walnuts and basil. But instead, I made a salad of halved cherry tomatoes, walnuts and torn basil leaves dressed with Aged Balsamic Vinegar and Spanish Olive Oil and poured that over the top and this dish turned out to be the surprise of the night. The fresh tomatoes, torn basil and walnuts along with the tabouleh really made this dish come alive. My initial skepticism was diminished after the dish was garnished. The guests raved about it, and Mr. Precious said he could bathe in it. And although that’s the not the image I want burned into my mind, I was quite relieved that it came out well and even I enjoyed it.

But what I really could've bathed in was the avocado hummus! The recipe is a basic hummus recipe that substitutes avocados for chickpeas. This recipe charmed me when I first read it but after making the tabouleh and feeling a bit gun-shy (no one had eaten the tabouleh and raved about it – yet), I wasn't sure how the hummus would turn out, so I made just one batch. Pleased with the results, I immediately made another batch so there would be enough for the guests after I consumed my fare share. The hummus had this amazing nutty, richness to it, and a creamy, smooth texture. Midway through my second batch (making it, not eating it!) I had to call my Lebanese grandmother and my mother and give both of them the recipe. The hummus went beautifully with the slow-roasted salmon, garnished with pepitas and lemon.

In “Spice” Ana Sortun combines toasted orange zest with sumac and fennel seed for fish and chicken, but I decided to combine the zest instead with fennel pollen, fennel seed and coriander for a dry rub on pork tenderloins. I peeled 4 oranges, cut out the zith and let the peel dry out on a sheet pan for a few days before toasting it on a low oven until it was slightly golden brown and then grinding it to a fine powder. The aroma was sweet, floral and toasty and the flavor was pungent and warm. I rubbed it on the pork loin a day ahead, and then grilled it and served it with a grilled peach and red pepper salad with fresh mint, parsley, Aleppo and lemon vinaigrette to make a lush, bright and beautiful combination.

The roasted baby potatoes with smoked tomato romesco was just an idea that I’d had rolling around in my head for a week or so and I decided to give it a go. I smoked a few tomatoes on my stove-top smoker with alder and cherry wood and then added them to all the traditional romesco ingredients; almonds, bread crumbs, sherry vinegar, ancho chili. It came out great and I highly recommend giving the smoker a try with tomatoes or other fresh veggies. Hmmm, maybe a smoked tomato sorbet is in order?

Well, I didn’t kill anyone with my cooking and apparently the bosses were quite pleased with the progress of the yacht and the efforts the crew made to make the final visit before the launch enjoyable as we’ve just been informed the bosses are flying all of us to Las Vegas for three days and putting us up at the Belaggio!

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? HA! Not when you have a blog!

Blog Directory - Blogged