recipes

Sea Fare — Victoria Allman in the Galley

 

Bimini Bread by Victoria Allman

Bimini Bread by Victoria Allman

Bimini Breakdown


by Victoria Allman


We were only going to be in Bimini for two days. There was no time to waste.  I wanted Bimini Bread.

Trouble was, we were anchored two miles off the east coast of the island and the tender was broken.  Harry, our engineer was busy trying to fix it.  But by the descriptive words coming out of his mouth, I held little hope it would be functioning in time to get me to the craft market and to Natalie’s stall before it closed.

Patrick came into our cabin as I stuffed a few loose bills in the pocket of my swim shorts.

“What are you doing?”  Patrick and I’d been married long enough for him to know I was going to take matters into my own hands.

“Taking the paddle board to shore.”  I handed him my bottle of sunscreen and turned so he could apply it to my back.

I could hear him rolling his eyes in his tone of voice.  “That’s over two miles away.

“I know.”

“The wind is still blowing.” 

We had rocked at anchor the night before through thirty-mile per hour gusts.  It had calmed by morning, but there was still a residual breeze and slight chop to the water.

“I know.”

“It will take you over an hour to get there.”

“I know.”

He heavy-sighed.  “I’ll get my trunks on.”

I turned and kissed him.  He put up a fight, but he liked an adventure as much as I did.

The hot sun set my sun-screened skin to glistening with sweat within moments of pushing off from the boat.  My muscles screamed in joy at being able to move again after two days at sea in rough conditions.  My paddle swished rhythmically and pulled me through the varying peacock, sapphire and royal colors of the water surrounding me.

It didn’t take long for Patrick to pass me and be half way to shore.  I spent most of the time shifting my gaze from the white sand beach of our destination to the clear waters below.  I glided over sea fans and rock formations that looked close enough to touch, although I knew they lay thirty-feet below

A barracuda stalks Victoria Allman

A barracuda stalks Victoria Allman

.

A flash of silver and white caught my eye and the board beneath my feet wobbled.  A four-foot barracuda hung suspended in teal just behind the back of my board.  I recovered from being startled and paddled closer to shore.  A dozen strokes later, I turned to see him following me.  Another dozen strokes and he was still there; a stalker at sea.

Ahead and to the left, lime green reflected in the sunlight.  I paddled closer.  Somewhere between the sandy ocean floor and me a sea turtle glided through the blue.  I stopped mid-stroke so as not to scare him.  Within seconds, he shot out of sight, startled by the shadow of a large predator hovering above.

In the distance, the flipper of a sunfish fluttered at the surface before it, too, darted off.

By the time I caught up with Patrick on the beach, I was hot and thirsty.  We stashed our boards under a wind-blown casuarina tree and headed up the road to the craft market.

I had been reading about Natalie’s Bimini bread for days.  Now in her late seventies, Natalie had been baking bread for the island for the past fifty years.  She was famous for it.

We approached the coral-colored hut and were greeted with the friendly smile of the islands.

“Welcome to Bimini.”  Carmen, Natalie’s daughter greeted us.  Her close-cropped hair, dark-rimmed glasses and polyester skirt made her look like more of a business woman than an island girl.

“We’ve come for some Bimini bread,” I said.

“They all do, child.”  She held up a loaf wrapped in plastic.  ”This here is the original.”  She arranged the remaining loaves in the bin.  “Mama’s been baking since dawn.”

I held out the soggy bills from my pocket and turned back to Patrick who was busy procuring two bottles of water from a cooler full of ice on the ground.  I held out the plastic bag and beamed.

“How are you going to get it back to the boat?”  Patrick is always the practical one.

My smile faded, but only for a moment.  “I guess we will just have to eat it here.”

“A whole loaf?”

I shrugged.  “There are worse things.” 

We wound our way back to the boards and sat under the dappled shade of the tree.  I ripped off a hunk of the bread and handed it to Patrick.  Crumbs fell onto my lap and stuck to my greasy skin.  The next chunk was for me.  I devoured the sweet, soft bread of the island in minutes and washed it down with the ice-cold water.  It didn’t take us long to make the loaf disappear.

With bellies full of bread, we slipped the boards into the lapping surf.  As I checked over my shoulder to see if I was still being followed, I hoped Harry would have the tender running by the time we returned.  I didn’t want a breakdown to stop me from bringing Bimini bread back to the boat.

—————

Bimini Bread


1 package active dry yeast

1 cup slightly warm coconut milk
4 1/2 cups unbleached flour (plus extra, if the dough comes out too wet)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons hot water

1 stick soft butter
3 tablespoons honey

Heat the coconut milk in a microwave for 10 seconds until barely warm. 

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine coconut milk with yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients through eggs and mix on medium for 6 minutes.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place.

Divide the dough in half and roll into 2 greased loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix the honey and hot water and brush on top of loaves.

Bake at 300 for 30 minutes.

Mix together soft butter and honey until smooth.

Cool loaves slightly and serve warm with soft honey butter.

Makes 2 loaves

—————

Victoria Allman, author SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain, has been following her stomach around the globe for twelve years as a yacht chef. She writes about her floating culinary odyssey through Europe, the Caribbean, Nepal, Vietnam, Africa and the South Pacific in her first book, Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.

SEAsoned…, Victoria’s second book is the hilarious look at a yacht chef’s first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain; trying to stay afloat.

You can read more of her food-driven escapades through her web-site, www.victoriaallman.com

Narrative and recipe Copyright © 2011 by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, Passagemaking News

Sea Fare: Victoria Allman in the Galley – Spring 2011

Tribal Bartering

By Victoria Allman

“Are they still there?” I asked Patrick as he walked through the galley.

“They haven’t left.” Patrick grabbed a slice of pineapple from the platter in front of me. “We’re surrounded.”

I swatted his hand as he reached for another slice. The fruit tray was for the guests on Pangaea, the 185-foot yacht I was chef of, not for the crew, whether he was my husband or not.

I removed my apron and followed Patrick down the side passageway to our aft deck.  The equatorial sun of Papua New Guinea burned deep into my skin within seconds of leaving the cool air-conditioned environ of my galley. I raised my hand to shade my eyes and squinted out over the tea-colored water.

Patrick was right; we were surrounded. Trailing behind us were half a dozen hand-carved wooden canoes, each holding a dozen tribal men and women.  To our starboard side, another four canoes were packed with dark-skinned naked children. Half of them smiled wide, half crouched behind the gunwale, the whites of their eyes peaking over the rim, too scared to look, too intrigued to glance away.

We were a novelty. A boat our size had never traveled that far up the Sepik River before. We had anchored the night before in the center of the river, unable to navigate farther in the dark. The guest on board had requested a trip up the Sepik, also known as the Amazon of the Pacific, to the center of the country along some of the wildest and remotest terrain on earth to view spirit-houses and tour primitive villages. So far, our journey had twisted through steamy mangrove jungles, untouched dense rainforests and boggy swamps.

The guests were on a National Geographic-like expedition, only, it was being done in the luxury of a twenty million dollar yacht.

Sweat trickled between my breasts before I even reached the swim platform. A mosquito landed on my arm. I swatted it away with one hand while with the other I motioned to one of the canoes to come closer.

A man wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and an elaborate headdress of feathers and vines maneuvered his prow alongside the swim platform of Pangaea. Patrick reached down to steady the dugout vessel.

“Welcome.” The man’s rough smile showed betel nut-stained misshapen teeth. He spit velvet red juice into the muddy-brown water. It swirled a moment and disappeared in the fast-moving current. “We sell bananas and coconut.”

I smiled. The local market had come to me. “How much?”

I had been to Madang, the local town earlier that week and had a rough grasp of how the Kina worked. In such a poor country, five kina bought you almost anything. I had spent more money than the market-sellers had seen in a long time on sweet potatoes, water spinach and papaya to feed our twelve crew and twelve guests.

I pulled coins from my pocket and pointed to the branch of bananas on the rough-hewn floor. I held out my hand, but the man shook his head. The animal bone piercing his nose swung back and forth.

“No good here.” He waved his hand toward the river banks lined with clusters of wheat and wild sugarcane. The village we anchored in front of consisted of stilted one-room huts made of wood and thatch. Jungle forests stretched forever beyond the clearing. Of course, where would he spend the money? On what?

Patrick stepped in. “Batteries?” he asked.

The man nodded. Our local guide on board came down to translate.

Patrick disappeared into the engine room to grab some of our spares while I stood smiling at a two-year old, curly-headed girl draped in a dirty white cloth for a diaper. I wiggled my fingers in a wave that sent her burying her face between her mother’s bare breasts.

I looked from one woman to the next. Each was bare-chested with long, flat, shriveled breasts that hung low and uneven down their bellies. Some wore skirts of grass, some a cloth wrapped around their hips. I felt self-conscious in my white polo with the yacht’s logo stitched on the chest.

Patrick returned with a box of batteries and a plastic container. The man nodded and handed me the branch with dozens of green bananas attached. 

Patrick bent down beside the children in the center of the canoe and held out his hand. One child shrieked and huddled in the far corner, but a boy of about six years tentatively peeked into Patrick’s cupped hand. He reached out a scrawny arm and touched what was inside. He, too, shrieked. But, this one was out of excitement.  The other six children pushed and leaned in to get a view of what the strange white man with hair the color of the surrounding wheat fields had in his hand.

The first boy grabbed at what Patrick held and snuggled it to his chest. Finally, I could see what the excitement was all about. Patrick had brought a container of ice from our ice machine. The children pawed at the ice in the boy’s arms, but within seconds, it had disappeared. All heads turned back to Patrick, wide eyes pleading for more.

Patrick laughed and handed out cubes to all the children. The men from other canoes paddled close to see what the excitement was all about. One by one, each canoe approached the boat and as I traded batteries, an old frying pan and crew t-shirts for tropical fruits from the fields, Patrick entertained the children with the ice.

Within minutes, all the crew and guests had come to trade. Extra clothes were exchanged for carved masks, flashlights for weaved baskets. As the rudimentary bartering progressed, Patrick produced the exchange item of greatest value.

He and our engineer, Scotty, lowered the jet-skis into the water. One-by one, Patrick took each boy for a ride. They straddled the seat behind him; smiling and waving as they passed their village, showing off to those on shore waiting their turn. He taught them to drive our machines in exchange for them teaching a thirty-nine year old man how to balance in their round bottomed vessels.

“Stand in back. Just paddle.” One boy instructed. Patrick rose, balancing like he learned on his surfboard as the hollow tree trunk swayed beneath him.  He teetered right and corrected too quickly to the left.

Splash! He emerged from the muddy water laughing. Children and elders roared with laughter around us. To their immense pleasure, he ended up in the water many times, tipping out of the canoe before he mastered its balance. 

By mid-morning, when we had to pull anchor and continue our voyage up the river, we had emptied our reserves of essentials and loaded in their place a bounty of carvings and fruits.

“You’ve been taken advantage of.”  Our guide shook his head. “Two batteries for something that grows free on trees.”

I disagreed. For me, it was the other way around; two little batteries for the chance of creating our own market aboard.  The smile on the woman’s face when I handed over a pot for boiling water and the memory of children’s laughter at my husband’s ineptitude at mastering the canoe was well worth any amount of trade. I was definitely getting the better end of the deal.

We set off for our next destination leaving a trail of canoes and laughter in our wake and navigated toward our next stop for more tribal bartering.

———-

 

Fruit Salad with Coconut Rum Caramel Sauce - Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Fruit Salad with Coconut Rum Caramel Sauce - Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Tropical Fruit Salad

with a Coconut Rum Caramel Sauce 

Tropical Fruit Salad of:

 

  •  Pineapples
  •  Mangoes
  •   Papaya
  •   Bananas
  •   Grapefruit
  •   Oranges

 Coconut Rum Caramel Sauce:

 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut rum
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeded

 

In a heavy-bottomed saucepot, cook the sugar and juice of the orange over moderately high heat until it turns a deep caramel color. It will darken quickly so watch closely, once it starts to color be ready to add the rum or the sugar will burn. At this point, the sugar is extremely hot. DO NOT TOUCH.  Remove from the heat and pour in the rum. The caramel will “spit” so stand back and be careful. Add coconut milk and vanilla pod and seeds and return to the heat. Simmer for 5 minutes until the caramel is dissolved.

Cool and serve with fruit salad.

Serves 8

———-

Victoria Allman, author SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain, has been following her stomach around the globe for twelve years as a yacht chef.  She writes about her floating culinary odyssey through Europe, the Caribbean, Nepal, Vietnam, Africa and the South Pacific in her first book, Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.

SEAsoned, Victoria’s second book is the hilarious look at a yacht chef’s first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain; trying to stay afloat.

You can read more of her food-driven escapades through her web-site, www.victoriaallman.com

Narrative and recipe Copyright © 2011 by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, megayachts, Passagemaking News, People

Sea Fare Winter 2010-2011 — Victoria Allman in the Galley

—Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”  This is the ninth in a series of periodic columns here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the destinations and context in which her recipes were developed.  Last month, she was in the South Pacific and her friend Nunu supplied her with the freshest possible Mahi-Mahi.  If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in the right sidebar on OceanLines and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

———-

The Memory of Jerk
by Victoria Allman

I’ve been stuck in port for too long now. The yacht I work on is for sale and we have been in Lauderdale for the annual boat show. It is a time of sitting and staying in one place; a time when my mind wanders back to earlier travels.

Today, I’ve been thinking about Jamaica; a place of carnal color and debaucherous tales. But, my favorite memories are not so much of climbing the waterfalls at Dunn’s River, jumping off the cliff 45-feet above the Caribbean Sea at Rick’s, or reverberating to the sounds of reggae. My favorite memory is of what came after a trail ride through the ganja fields on a horse called Smoke. Now, before you jump to any conclusions about what that memory may entail, or how hazy it might be, let me tell you about the jerk chicken I had.

Hot and sweaty from the ride, I tied Smoke under the shade of a logwood tree. Not twenty-feet away, a caravan had parked on the side of the road. The sharp smell of chilies from a steel barrel barbecue beside the truck had lured me off the trail and set my mouth to watering.

“You ever had jerk?” A scrawny Jamaican man in long jean shorts and a white tank top held steel tongs in his hand. His brown eyes never left the searing meat on the grill in front of him.

“Not here.” I said. My eyes could barely leave the scene either.

“Den you never had jerk.” He drawled. “Dis where it comes from.” His smile revealed two gold front teeth. He lifted a chicken leg from the grill and bent low to inspect the underside. His beehive of dreadlocks grazed low over the flames, threatening to ignite. “Dis one’s for you.” He wrapped the leg in paper and handed me a Red Stripe.

I sat at a worn and splintered wooden picnic table. The hot sun seared my skin as much as the flames had done the chicken. I took a long pull of the beer before picking up the meal. It was a good thing I did. Once I brought the leg to my mouth, I couldn’t put it down. The flavor exploded in my mouth. Sweetness and spice battled for dominance. Steam rose off the flesh as I tore into it. My tongue burned. Neither the heat nor the spice stopped me from devouring the whole thing in minutes.

The man at he grill glanced over and laughed. “Another one?”

I nodded vigorously.

He began wrapping another piece. “Nobody ever has just one.”

It was that taste I thought of today while planning the menu for lunch. I may not be able to travel while the boat is in Lauderdale, but I sure was going to try and replicate that experience again.

———-

 
 
 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken by Victoria Allman - Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Jamaican Jerk Chicken by Victoria Allman - Photo Courtesy of Victoria Allman

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • ½ scotch bonnet, minced ***depending on heat tolerance
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ whole nutmeg, grated
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 12 chicken thighs
  •  2 limes, juiced
  1. In a food processor, combine the rum, cider vinegar, green onions, garlic, thyme, scotch bonnet, canola oil, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, pepper, brown sugar and ketchup; process to a coarse paste. Pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish, add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before proceeding. 
  2. Light a grill. Grill the chicken over a medium-hot fire, turning occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, 20-30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and drizzle with lime juice.

Serve with Rice and Peas, Vegetable Salad and Rotis.

Serves 6

Narrative and Recipe Copyright © by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations

Sea Fare July — Victoria Allman in the Galley

 Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”  This is the seventh in a series of periodic columns here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the environment and context in which her recipes were developed. Last month, we delighted in the delicate sensation of her Vietnamese Summer Rolls.  In this month’s installment, she is in the Bahamas and her friend Vivian teaches her something about bread and life. If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in the right sidebar on OceanLines and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

———-

Love Da Ting’s You Do       

by Victoria Allman
Author of: “Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean”
www.victoriaallman.com
Victoria on Twitter

“You gots to love da tings you do for people.”  Vivian used her large upper frame to knead the dough. The muscles in her arms told the story of just how many loaves of coconut bread she had rolled in her life. “It isn’t work if you love it.”  It sounded like the mantra every yachting chef should recite.

The weather was bad that week; although, you wouldn’t know it from the view.  The sun shone bright.  Fluffy clouds underlined in lilac, splattered the sky, looking like the meringue I had just whipped for Key Lime Pies. The boat rocked ever so slightly under my feet.  But, on the other side of Staniel Key, the Atlantic was churning a fury. It was nothing we wanted to be sailing through. We snuggled in to wait.

But waiting wasn’t something I did well. If we were going to be stuck in limbo, I wanted to learn how to make the islands famous coconut bread.  After all, that was why I was yachting; to see different cultures cuisines. On our first afternoon, I went to see my friend Vivian.

“Good day to you, baby.”  Vivian greeted me.  She was wearing a New York Yankees t-shirt. A Yamaha ball cap shielded her face, but it could not hide the bright smile.

“I was hoping you could teach me how to make coconut bread.”  Vivian made the best on the island.

“Well child, let me sees.  I gots to get someone to grate a coconut for me.”

“I have a bag of pre-shredded on the boat,” I volunteered.

Her face twisted to one side. She pursed her lips together, her eyes squeezed shut as if she just bit into a lemon.  “No, you’se have to use fresh grated coconut.  Lesson number one.”  Then she laughed shaking her head.  What do these crazy white girls know about anything? “Tomorrow’s we make bread.” 

The sweet smell of coconut wafted out the screen door when I arrived the next day.  A wooden bowl with a pile of white, flaked coconut sat on the countertop along with a generic five-pound bag of flour.  “I’s already baked all mornin’ but we’s can make another batch.”  She threw her head back and let out a booming laugh.  “Everybody love when I make bread.”

Without even measuring, Vivian poured flour onto the counter creating a white powder mountain.  She thrust a thick fist into the center to make a well.  From a plastic container she scooped large handfuls of sugar into the center.  “We’s like our bread sweet.  Just like the women here.”  Again she howled.

“This is a breakfast bread then?”  I asked.

“No child. This here is for anytime.  My coconut bread don’t last around here ‘til morning.”

She cut open two envelopes of yeast and poured it into a coffee mug of warm water.  She hummed while she pinched some of the sugar from the pile into the mug.  “This here I just set aside for a minute to start bubblin’.  It works best that way.”   Vivian turned back to her pile and scooped a large wooden spoon full of soft butter from a tin on the counter.  With a flick of her wrist she sent up a flour cloud as the butter buried itself in the center of the well.  She scooped up the wooden bowl of coconut and scraped the wet pile into the flour.

By now the coffee mug had a beige cloud of yeast bubbling on the surface.  She poured the cup into the well and began scooping the sides of flour up and into the center.  She shook salt into the gluey gloop.  Her upper frame jiggled as the dough on the counter began to take shape.  

“Junkanoos a comin’, just around the corner,” she half sang-half hummed.  She stretched out, pushing forward with her palms.  She gathered up the dough and hugged it back towards her body.  She moved in rhythm to her humming.

“You just gots to love the tings you do.  That is what you taste in my bread.  It’s the love.”   She caressed the ball of dough like she would a newborn babies head.  “Now, I just leaves this to set for an hour or so until it is twice this size.  Then I shape it into two dough pans and set it to rise again.  After another hour I bake it.”  She turned to the stove grabbing one of the loaves off the cooling rack.  “And this is what you gets.  Coconut bread.” Her smile beamed like the rays of the sun.

Vivian placed a still warm golden loaf in my hands and handed me a bag of half a dozen more.  “You’se take these to your friends on the boat and tell them this here is the taste of the Bahamas.”

I smiled in thanks.  I too, loved da tings she did.

———-

 
 
 
 
 

Vivian's Coconut Bread by Victoria Allman

Vivian's Coconut Bread by Victoria Allman

Vivian’s Coconut Bread

Makes 2 loaves

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 packages yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ cup grated coconut with the water (about two coconuts)
  • 5 cups flour (amount of flour may vary depending on how much water is inside the coconuts)
  • ½ stick soft butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes until yeast begins to bubble and look fluffy.  Stir in rest until a soft dough forms.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and soft (about 6 minutes); add extra flour to prevent dough from sticking to your hands or the surface.

Place dough back in bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let stand 1½ hours to rise.

Divide dough into two, working with one half at a time roll dough out into a log.  Place into a bread pan that has been sprayed with Pam.  Brush the top of the bread with a scrambled egg to glaze.  Cover and let rise for 45 minutes until it has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400.  Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe and narrative Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, megayachts, Passagemaking News, People & Profiles
Sea Fare May — Victoria Allman in the Galley

Sea Fare May — Victoria Allman in the Galley

Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”  This is the fifth in a series of periodic columns here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the environment and context in which her recipes were developed. Last month, we savored the Santorini Eggplant Salad.  In this month’s installment, her megayacht is in Morocco and the smells of the cooking in the marketplace draw Victoria in. If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in the left sidebar on OceanLines and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

—–

Moroccan Meanderings

by Victoria Allman

The narrow streets of the medina tangled like veins flowing to the heart of the city. The souq (market) was where we were headed. Saffron yellow, burnt-red and tan spices mounded in barrels along the way.  Mule carts laden with bundles of fresh mint, coriander and parsley were parked along the side of the street.

Shopping in the Moroccan Medina - Photo by Victoria Allman

Shopping in the Moroccan Medina - Photo by Victoria Allman

“Just look.  Just look.” Arabian men sat in front of endless stalls like auctioneers bidding us to enter their shops. “Ali Baba, come look.”  Patrick’s blond beard evoked the nickname we heard called to us everywhere.  It stood out as much as the red hair I tucked behind a scarf.  No amount of discretion in this Muslim country would hide the fact we were two pale-skinned people among a darker race.

Our foray into the labyrinth had meaning.  We had a destination.  The problem was we were hopelessly lost.

“Ali Baba, where are you going?”  A man asked.  After an hour of trying to find the correct alley we resigned ourselves to ask for help.

“Mechoui?” Patrick hesitated not sure he was pronouncing it right.

“Yes, come,” he said.  We shrugged off the anxiety of being lost like a shawl from our shoulders and gave ourselves over to the guide. 

Hazzid had the soft features of a Berber man.  His dark tight curls were trimmed close to the scalp, his skin a latte color.  His dress of black jeans and a Western jacket told the all too familiar tale of a man who left the mountain village to work in the larger city.  He wove us down serpentine alleyways and around corners.  He walked fast, glancing back to make sure we followed close. 

“Watch, Victoria.  Watch here.”  He pointed out every misplaced stone that maimed the street, caring for me like he would his own child. 

The hot smoky smell of roasted meat alerted us that he’d found the place. A row of tables heaving with cuts of lamb spread out in front of us.  Eyes stared at us from roasted sockets as we passed the first stall.  The second table was identical to the first, a mountain of legs, ribs and rumps.  The scent of cumin followed us from stall to stall. 

Finally we stopped.  “My family,” Hazzid introduced us to two men in white chef’s jackets, their bellies stained with grease.

“La bes,” I ventured a Berber greeting.  They laughed in unison.

“Hello.  Big welcome.”  Smiles erupted on their faces. 

Hazzid stepped behind his brothers and lifted a round stone from the floor. “Victoria, look.”  This time he wasn’t cautioning me.  This time he showed me how the lamb was cooked.  Through the manhole was a pit dug deep under the street.  In the center of the chamber embers of a long-burning fire glowed, lighting the space.  A dozen lamb carcasses hung from hooks above the coals.  Heavily scented smoke clouded the space, permeating the meat with its flavor.  The earth-oven had cooked the lamb slowly, for hours, melting away fat and leaving moist, tender meat.

“Mechoui,” Hazzid stated in way of an explanation.

“You try?” One of the men asked.

“Yes, please.”  This is what we came for.  He raised a large cleaver.  With one stroke he split the lamb in front of him through the backbone.  Another blow sectioned off a hunk for us.  Tendrils of steam rose from the chopping process.  Using the knife and his free hand, he scraped and scooped the meat onto one side of a scale, on the other he stacked weights.

The spices of the Moroccan Market Place - Photo by Victoria Allman

The spices of the Moroccan Market Place - Photo by Victoria Allman

“One kilo.  Good for you.”  He heaped more meat than I could imagine eating onto a paper plate and loaded the top with two rounds of Moroccan pita bread.  I reached for the plate, but Hazzid quickly grabbed it from me.  It was clear he was now our host.  He carried the meat up the stairs to the open-air terrace above the stall.

We wasted no time.  Soft pieces of meat fell from the bones.  Custom dictated we eat only with our right hand; something that proved harder than mastering chopsticks.  We dipped the meat into dishes of cumin salt.  Succulent flavor filled my mouth and coated the inside with silk.  Hot juice glistened my fingers.  Patrick groaned.  This was good.  We devoured the whole plate and I wondered if Muslim customs would frown on a woman sucking the bones in public.  It took a great deal of inner strength to resist the urge.

Hazzid returned with a tray of tea.  He held the ornate silver teapot at a great height, pouring clear brown liquid in an elaborate show of service into the tiny glasses below.  The high pour brought new aromas to the air.  Fresh mint replaced the smell of roasted lamb making my mouth water again.

Hazzid held his cup high.  “Big welcome.” And with that we were left on our own to meander the streets home, our bellies pregnant with the flavor of Morocco.

Moroccan Mechoui

By Victoria Allman
Author of: Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean
www.victoriaallman.com
Victoria on Twitter

  • 1 whole leg of lamb (or shoulder) on the bone, 6-8 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 11/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika 
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin

Trim excess fat from the leg of lamb, and make a dozen or more cuts deep into the meat with the tip of a sharp knife.

Combine the olive oil with the garlic, and spices through to paprika. Spread the mixture over the entire leg of lamb, working some into the incisions made with the knife.

Place the leg of lamb in a roasting pan.

Preheat an oven to 250°F (120/130°C).

Cover the lamb with foil, sealing the edges tightly. Roast the lamb, basting hourly and resealing the foil each time, for 7 hours, or until the juices run clear and the meat is tender enough to pinch off the bone.

Transfer the lamb to a platter and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving. If desired, the juices can be poured over and around the lamb.

Mix cumin with sea salt and serve in dishes on the side for dipping.

Recipe and narrative Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom

Sea Fare February – Victoria Allman in the Galley

Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.”  This is the second in a series of periodic columns here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the environment and context in which her recipes were developed. Last month, we savored her Spanish Clams with Sherry and Iberico Ham.  In this month’s installment, the yacht has called on a French port. If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in our left sidebar and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

———-

The Return of Summer

By Victoria Allman

 A feast of summer colors assaulted me as I entered the Forville Marche in Cannes, France.  Market tables sagged with tomatoes, the color of fast cars. The shine of the eggplants deep purple, almost black skin sat as backdrop to the emerald green slender zucchini.  We had just cruised into port and I couldn’t wait to head back to this particular market. 

I collected the freshest seasonal vegetables from tables laden with grey-green bulbs of baby artichokes still on the stalk. Mounds of wild mushrooms, gathered from the nearby woods, were heaped in wooden baskets. I picked up a long braid of garlic from the table in front of me, brought it under my nose and breathed deeply. The heady smell invaded my senses.  “S’il vous plait.” I handed it to the market woman.

I passed tables piled high with over twenty varieties olives. Black wrinkled ones cured in sea salt sat next to pale green ones mixed with snipped herbs and whole cloves of garlic. Others floated in brine or were chopped to a fine paste to be used as a spread on baguettes. I popped a youthful fat olive with smooth skin into my mouth as I selected more than I would use that day.

Next, I visited the woman who grew all her own herbs. I couldn’t escape the distinctive citric smell of lemon balm, the herbaceous smell of rosemary, and the lingering scent of fresh dill. This was the way to begin a day. Brightly colored vegetables accosted me at every turn. “Victoria!” A woman behind me squealed. “Ca va?”  I turned and was wrapped in a hug by Ana, the voluptuous fruit seller. She stepped back and placed her dirt-stained hands on my shoulders, rounding her self in to kiss each cheek.   “Cheri, you have come back home.” 

This is what I missed. Every day last summer, this same woman had filled my basket with a dozen, fist-sized white peaches from her garden. Each day, I had devoured more than my share, standing over the galley sink, juice dribbling down my chin. I gobbled the subtle flesh as sweetness swirled through my mouth. I would finish one and reach for another. By the end of the day, they had all disappeared. The next morning, I would return to Ana to start the cycle again.  I am someone who loves the change of seasons, but I was more than a little sad to see last summer end. We sailed away and found new cuisines to explore, but now, here I was, back for more.

“Hola.” I stammered. “I mean, Bonjour.” Switching countries is a confusing way to shop.  She giggled and picked up a peach. “For you, cheri.”  I smiled, knowing what lay ahead. By the time I had walked home to the boat, I had sticky hands from the first of many of this season’s white peaches, and had planned my day’s menu around the vegetables bursting from my cloth bags.

I loved being back in France once more.

 

Victoria Allman's Seared Cod with Ratattouile

Victoria Allman's Seared Cod with Ratattouile

Seared Cod with Provençal Ratatouille

By Victoria Allman
Author of: Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean
www.victoriaallman.com

 
6-6 oz fillets of cod
sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
    
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 red onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 zucchini
1 yellow crookneck squash
1/2 eggplant
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 tomatoes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon thyme
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and pepper

Arugula leaves

Dice all the vegetables into a small one-inch dice.  Sauté the onions and the garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes over medium heat until they are soft. Add the peppers and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, squash, and eggplant. Sauté another 5 minutes.  Season with the sea salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, red wine vinegar, thyme and bay leaves.  Combine the rest and stew for 20 minutes over low heat.  Season with more vinegar, salt and pepper if necessary.

Pre-heat oven to 400.

Season the cod with sea salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat.  Add olive oil to the pan and sear the cod, presentation-side down for 3 minutes until a golden crust occurs.  Remove the cod to a baking dish, presentation-side up and repeat with the rest of the cod.  Bake for 5 more minutes or until cod is at desired doneness.

Pool the ratatouille on a plate and top with arugula salad and fish.
Serves 6

Recipe, photography and narrative Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, megayachts, People, People & Profiles

Sea Fare – Victoria Allman in the Galley

Editor’s Note — Victoria Allman is the chef aboard a 143-foot megayacht and the author of the recently released “Sea Fare:  A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean.” She has graciously agreed to write a periodic column here on OceanLines featuring her irresistible recipes. Best of all for OceanLines readers, who are travelers of the first order, Victoria also gives us a nice taste of the environment and context in which her recipes were developed (or adopted as you will see in this first installment). If you’d like to read her book, just click on the ad in our left sidebar and that will take you to an Amazon link where you can order it.

———-

A Culinary Theatre

 by Victoria Allman
www.victoriaallman.com

It was already a late hour by the time we secured the lines and straightened the fenders, but Spain does not even consider eating until long after the sun has retired for the evening.  Famished from a long crossing, we wandered through the old Roman streets of Barcelona dizzy with hunger.  We passed stone buildings with more history than we could remember, to a tiny square where tapas bars crowded every corner.
 
In the one we chose, dark-haired men stood behind a long counter, backs to us, hunkered over a stove.  They were busy submerging squid in oil and tossing peppers in a smoking hot cast-iron pan.  We pulled bar stools up to the high counter and watched the action of the cooks like we were following a soccer match. Our necks craned to see a plate of sausage and beans being delivered to couple across the room. Razor clams sizzled on hot skillets.  A tortilla passed so close that we could have reached out and taken a bite. We followed it with our eyes.
 
A round of steaming clams were set just to the right of us; their smell filled the small space. We immediately ordered a bowl and watched as one of the cooks, with a heavy pan, flicked his wrist sending a dozen muscles and their juices flying through the air.  He caught the wave of shellfish and broth without spilling a drop.
 
Without a word, he placed the bowl in front of us and cut thick slices of chewy bread, rubbing the surface with a half tomato to spread its sweet flavor like butter.  He picked up a slender bottle of olive oil and drizzled a golden sheen on top.  The bread glistened. He leaned in close, pinching sea salt between his thick fingers and sprinkled it over the bread like an artist applying the finishing touch to his masterpiece.
  
By my first bite, I had already fallen in love with Spain.

Spanish Clams with Sherry and Iberico Ham by Victoria Allman

Spanish Clams with Sherry and Iberico Ham by Victoria Allman

Spanish Clams with Sherry and Iberico Ham
by Victoria Allman

1 1/2 pounds fresh clams
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
4 cups cold water

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup Iberico ham, finely chopped (or Serrano ham)
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Scrub clams and soak them in water and coarse salt for 45 minutes.
 
Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over high heat.  Add olive oil, Iberico ham, onions, and garlic.  Saute 3 minutes until the onions are soft.  Drain the clams and add to the pot with sherry.  Cover and cook for 3 minutes until the shells have opened.  Discard any that remain closed.

Toss with parsley and ladle into bowls.

Serve with crusty bread, rubbed with tomato and drizzled in olive oil, and a glass of wine.

Serves 4

recipe and article Copyright © 2010 by Victoria Allman

Sea Fare: A Chef's Journey Across the Ocean, by Victoria Allman

Sea Fare: A Chef's Journey Across the Ocean, by Victoria Allman

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom