Workshop Food

16 11 2008

This was an interesting week for food in my world.  My principal is hosting a Language Arts workshop at our school.  There are 2 days in November and 5 days in December.  She agreed to provide food for the 7 days, and handed that little task off to me.  She emphasized, “This does NOT mean you HAVE to cook.”  Now…what self-respecting food loving cook (with all these fabulous -choke-cough- choices) would abandon people to that kind of food??  So, while I’m not expected to cook, I can at least put together components that add up to a decent spread for these poor folks.  It’s breakfast and lunch for 15 seven times.  That’s not insane.

I shopped hard Thursday night, and got all their tableware together, and goodies for the Friday and Saturday meals.  The breakfast spread was a fresh fruit bowl, with choices of yogurt and granola, orange juice, and coffee.  On Friday they had assorted bagels to toast with cream cheese, herbed cream cheese and orange butter as spreads.  On Saturday, they had assorted muffins as their bread item.  Lunch on Friday was lasagne or cheese manicotti…freshly baked from frozen.  I can’t be everywhere doing everything while I’m running the school from the office! LOL!  In December, they’ll have several casseroles as well, but many of those will be made by me in advance.  They’re having enchiladas one day, and I most certainly will make those.  The group is split fairly evenly, men to women…also meat eaters -v- vegans.  So…whatever they get, there needs to be a vegan alternative with it.  It all works.

No pictures this time.  The spread ended up looking very nice both days. I had to do both Friday and Saturday up on Friday, as I was asked not to work on Saturday.  I sent them to the best local sandwich shop for Saturday’s lunch.  I’ll take stock of what we have left and calculate the December week from that.  And now…back to our regularly scheduled lives… *Ü*

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Oysterfest 2008

16 11 2008

My beloved husband loves good raw oysters.  If a menu shows oysters on the half shell as an appetizer, he almost always orders them.  It took the better part of our 26…ummm…27 years together for me to get brave enough to try one of the slimy things.  My first bite was a wee tiny “piggyback” oyster.  While I managed to get it down without gagging, I still wasn’t too sure what the fascination was all about.  And then I fell in love with sushi.  Getting from sushi to raw oysters isn’t too much of a leap, especially if they’re served as “Hot Shot” oyster shooters at the sushi bar.  Then, I booked us for a weekend on Tomales Bay for our anniversary one year, and the rest, as they say, is history.  The same sea-fresh essence I love in sushi exists in fresh oysters as well.  Nirvana!

Tomales Bay isn’t all that far away, but it’s not all that close either.  It’s about 4 hours in good traffic, more in slow Friday night traffic.  Lodging in West Marin county doesn’t come at bargain rates either.  When I started calculating out a weekend on Tomales Bay, and compared that to the price of having the same oysters shipped to me, having them shipped won out.  Another couple ordered with us to split the shipping – and get fresh oysters without the trip – so we ordered several dozen shipped in Overnight.  It was still $100, but no hassle of dragging all the accompaniments all the way to the coast.

I set us up with the usual goodies…shucking knives, lemon, tabasco, horseradish, and a peppermill.  Then, I got creative…  I made a red wine mignonette, a white mignonette, and an Asian mignonette, wasabi, Bloody Mary shooter mix and sushi bar shooter mix, with an Asian slaw on the side, and hot edamame as well.  I had so many little goodies and extra sauce dishes for each of us that I had to come up with a way to fit it all on the coffee table…we improvised.  Sorry…the #10 cans were clean as a whistle, but I didn’t take time to disguise them.  By the time I was to the point of setting the table up, I was READY to eat!!

oysterfest2

Yes, that’s newspaper…we had about 5 dozen oysters to shuck, and that seemed like the best tablecloth for that activity!  There was also plastic beneath to protect the coffee table, just in case…  We ordered 2 dozen Kumamoto oysters (very tiny and ever so briny-sweet), 1 dozen Extra Smalls (a little larger, different shell and slightly different flavor), 1 dozen smalls, and 1 dozen Atlantic (think Blue Point).  That proved to be a bit much for one sitting, but it was sure fun!!

Bruce’s favorite way to eat oysters is on the half-shell, with horseradish, Tabasco, pepper and a squeeze of lemon.  Then, we discovered “Hot Shots” at The Rawbar in Chico, CA.  Ponzu, Sriracha and a splash of sake topped with a confetti of green onion tops bathe a small oyster in a deep shot glass.  Kanpai!  This became my favorite, and a close running second for Bruce.  And then, we experienced “Oysterfest 2008”, as we have dubbed it.  The Asian Mignonette sauce was fabulous…but add just a tot of wasabi and WOW…  All of the sauces were good.  Don’t get me wrong.  And it was absolutely joyous to get to try the different sauces side by side.  That was worth the price alone!  Everything meshed perfectly…

oysterfest1

In our area, an order of oysters on the half-shell is usually six, and sells for $12-$15.  We had 5 dozen (60 oysters) for $100.  We didn’t save a lot of money, but we did get the chance to do this “our” way.  Heck. We didn’t even fire up the BBQ…and we could have!  I didn’t even touch the bloody mary.  I was way to happy with the other combinations.  I made ponzu for shooters, and mixed them tableside as we wanted them.  the rest was shuck & eat.  Bruce was a sweetie…he shucked some for me…I’m so slow at it.  That seemed fair…since I’d made all the sauces!  We put a bucket between us on the floor for the shells…edamame and oyster.  And we ate….and we ate….and we talked….and we ate….

leftoversAnd this is what was left at the end of the evening.  Poor little things…  There was just no more room, and neither of us wanted to be “sick” of oysters.

We think we’d like to do this again next year.  If we can find another couple that likes to eat oysters, it would be great.  Otherwise, we’ll do fine, just the two of us.  We may figure out how they did those BBQ’s oysters we had once.  Only once.  They were so good though…  Save that for another year.  In the meanwhile, if I’ve gotten you curious at all…here’s the Asian Mignonette recipe ~

Asian Mignonette  **Oh, yum!**

Provided by Eating Well

* Prep:
* Cook:
* Ready in: 5 mins

Ingredients

* 2/3 cup rice vinegar
* 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
* 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
* 2 scallions, minced

Cooking Instructions

Combine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and scallions in a small bowl.