Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happiness is...

Sauteed Halibut Cheeks with Brown Butter, Thyme and Lemon
Roasted Carrots and Fennel with Anise Seed
Broccoli Rabe

I remember when I first began working on yachts. I was on a really poorly run 120-foot sailing yacht anchored out in St. Barth. The crew were rarely aloud to go to shore and we worked for months on end without a day off. I was fresh and didn’t know how the industry worked. I thought it was enough just to be in the Caribbean. But at night, sitting out on the swim platform alone, chain smoking cigarettes and drowning my woes in the bottom of a bottle of 151 proof rum, I looked longingly at the big, shiny, fancy motor yachts in the marina at the Port of Gustavia, trying to spy the chefs through the windows and I thought to myself, “I need to be on one of those, damn it. And I want to go around the world…”.

Some wizened, sage soul one said, “happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”, and I would agree. Even in that miserable situation on the first boat, I was happy – oh, but maybe that was the rum… Ok, well, never mind. Although I agree that happiness comes from the inside – I do have to contend that sometimes getting what you want isn’t such a bad thing and I am very, very, very happy in my new galley…

Bit by bit, box by box, everything has been loaded aboard. I’ve, amazingly found places for every toy and utensil. However, if someone were to give me a box of toothpicks, I really would have no place to store it. I think I’m personally responsible for increasing the ballast on the boat and ever since we loaded on the meat-slicer, I’ve detected a slight lean towards starboard.

1. A few people, whom I wont name, but job titles rhyme with ‘mapton’ and ‘renginsmeer’, have given me a lot of grief about the number of appliances I have aboard. But I took this job because I knew I’d be able to pimp out the galley – and so pimp I did. Here’s the short list of the few little appliances I have aboard:

1. Industrial meat slicer
2. Paco Jet
3. Industrial grade vacuum sealer
4. Kitchen Aid mixer
5. food grinding attachment
6. pasta making attachment
7. 20 cup food processor
8. Vita Mix blender
9. Panini Press
10. Belgian Waffle Maker
11. Vegetable Juicer
12. Citrus Juicer
13. Hand Mixer
14. Hand Blender
15. 2 Baking Stones
16. Full Set of Stainless Steel Cookware
17. Full Set of Cast Iron Cookware

And every manner, shape and size tart pan, pie pan, loaf pan, muffin pan, cake pan, pastry gadget, etc. that one can imagine

I’ve got what I want and want what I’ve got and I’m very, very happy. And, apart from, perhaps a few more feet of storage space, I’ve also got my dream job… So, what's all this nonsense about happiness not being about getting what you want and wanting what you've got?

So, I’ve been eyeing halibut cheeks in the marketplace for a while now and I’ve never cooked them before and have only eaten them once. I picked some up and cooked them for the non-meat-eating crew; sautéed them in clarified butter and oil and finished them by adding some butter to the pan and letting it sizzle away until it was a nutty brown, adding some lemon zest, lemon juice and thyme at the very end. The halibut cheeks have an amazing texture – they don’t seem to dry out the way a halibut filet would. They are also slightly sweet and the flavor and texture almost remind me of crab. They were a hit with the crew and I would definitely do them again. I cooked them on my new induction cooktop. It takes a little getting used to – the pans heat up really quickly and get piping hot, but I love it! The handles stay cool and I’m not sweating my butt off while I cook. I’ve also been using the steam oven which is turning out to be a dream! No more boiling giant pots of water to blanch veggies – just chuck them in the steam oven and have an ice-bath ready…

I’m happy. Very, very happy… Now, if we could just get the hell out of here and go somewhere warm and sunny…


Anonymous said...

hilarious! doesn't matter how big the yacht or budget - i always get the furry eyeball from the capt when loading & stowing provisions or upgrading appliances (ice cream maker, juicer...) invariably coupled with the "i hope you know what you're doing" remark. THEN once underway WHO? is the first one to appreciate the fresh juices or the unusual ice creams among all the other deliciousness from the galley... ignore them & follow your heart! ENJOY YOUR LIFE! Bon Voyage, Shirin (another yacht chef, looong time reader & rare commenter)

prcrstn8 said...

What? No Vespa in the galley???

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