Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shellfish Paradise

This summer I'll be the "food news" reporter for a national CBC Radio summer food show called "The Main Ingredient". It's a dream come true because I get to talk about food and get paid for it. Lately the stars have been aligning for me in more ways than one.

For this show, the producers wanted to find an underground dining experience and do a piece on it. They wanted to devote an episode on secret dining, the whys and wheres and whats and whos.

Well, well, well...just so happens I know a group of talented cooks who run a little operation called The Wandering Spoon. I blogged about their delicious premiere meal where they roasted a whole suckling pig. Mmm.

I emailed them to see if they were interested in putting together one of their fabulous meals on the fly. When I say on the fly, they had two days to tell me whether they could put together a large dinner in less than a week. Most people probably would've told me to f@#$ off. They actually said yes.

And man...what a meal it was. They pulled off a spot prawn boil on an epic scale.

Some of the spot prawns put up quite a fight. One clung to the lid of the styrofoam cooler they came in until somebody finally pulled him off. Then another one (or perhaps the same one?) jumped right OUT of the cooler onto the floor. It's a good sign of freshness is what that is.

Spot prawn season being so short, it was such a treat. I also employed a lesson I learned recently from another prawn enthusiast. If you are taking advantage of spot prawn season, don't forget the head! Most people just throw the head away, but some of the best flavour comes from the innards in the head. Sometimes you can just suck it out, but sometimes you need the help of a utensil to get that buttery brain goodness out of there. Seriously. It's delicious. Why would I be doing that if it wasn't?

Here's what we got to eat...or at least what I remember through my wine-muddled haze.

-boiled spot prawns (obviously)
-mussels cooked with mustard greens and merguez sausage
-clams cooked in lots of butter with sauteed leeks
-"heart attack bread" -- which was bread slathered in a cream, butter and garlic mixture
-corn on the cob
-more bread
-caesar salad
-boiled potatoes with still more butter and garlic
-rhubarb and strawberry crumble with vanilla ice cream for dessert

TWENTY people showed up and apparently many more wanted to come. We got to see a number of familiar faces from the last dinner and some new ones who were clearly delighted to be a part of the shellfish free-for-all. I had tons of fun tackling my meal with my hands, as you can tell by the carnage I left behind in the top photo.

I am continually amazed at the lengths people who love food will go to indulge it. And I'm not talking about those of us pigging out at the table. Cooking 12+ hours a day apparently isn't enough for the Wandering Spoon folks. They still go out of their way to indulge a bunch of strangers -- not to mention the national broadcaster.

It was also a total steal. I saw what some other restaurants are charging for similar meals.

Thanks once again to the Wandering Spoon folks for a great meal and putting up with our microphone. Can't wait to see what you do next.

By the way, I'll keep you posted about when The Main Ingredient airs their episode across the country.

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