Sunday, January 30, 2011

squeeze the fruit...

business trip to managua! when my flight was delayed almost 2 hours, I got really homesick. for Managua. really? Wow. My first stop: the most gourmet restaurant in town: “auto mac” (drive through mickey d’s... car + fast food= like, whoa- I hadn't seen a car in over a month)!
I spent some time at basically every purveyor we use (many of which I had been to last year), and a whole morning at the Managua market (for which I will never be homesick) with Tomasa, the wife of the hotel’s taxista/supply runner.
Tomasa is the best. She rocks out all of the grocery shopping for the kitchen. She has a great sense of humor, knows food, and is just overall intelligent. 
I’ve never bought produce so underripe... but the trek it goes through to get to Little Corn includes squeezing it into 2 huge canastas (baskets), 3 days on an open air truck to the coast, then a long morning on a crowded boat over here. We also send a cooler via commercial plane once a week with meat/dairy for same-day delivery.
left: very green papayas ready for transport... right: upon arrival
Tomasa and I had some great communication, I clarified a few things about my orders. we now have two weekly phone calls to go over orders and questions, too.  We reorganized the order sheet, and made a few changes to how things are packed.
for example,
since our cantelopes always come in damaged and moldy,  I decided to change how they are packed: we moved them into the basket with the vegetables. Exciting, I know... but there’s something about fruit on fruit action that encourages quick maturation (something else I’d never really thought about back in SF). it worked! not one came in spoiled.
plus, Tomasa treated me to avocado, mimbro (a delicious sour fruit) and helped me find some fun Jicaro seed soup spoons...

and then, back to Little Corn- So surreal being on the panga thinking, “i’m on my way home!”  Back to... “the grind?” of island working and living.
but no, things are not perfect. unfortunately, yesterday, the cantelope did not come at all.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

fish tale

finally, after over a year in Nicaragua, getting great fish is easy! The lake bass in Granada were tasty, but spiny, hard to filet, the Mojarra were small & not good served raw or even medium cooked. My first few weeks on Little Corn the fishing was horrible (due to poor weather). This week Chris, the fisherman that we work with, caught some enormous kingfish mackerel for me to cook up! One of our gardening staff brought up the fish after the late boat came in- and I put fish on the menu for the following day! Two of the fish had the tails cut off because they wouldn’t fit in the cooler- huge (you should have seen the one that got away...)!
oh: Did I mention that we have no electric refrigeration at the hotel? The current system is a series of coolers that are emptied, cleaned, refilled with ice and food products daily. 
... 2:30am ... i hear outside my room:
“It’s me, Dixon.”
“okay, hi Dixon. what do you need?”
“Do you have the keys to the lodge?”
“Yes, why do you need to get into the lodge?”
“The fish is not on ice, and I need to filet it and move it into the indoor cooler that has ice.”
“(ugh) okay, hang on.”
... stumbling out of bed, finding a jacket (yes, jacket- it’s been stormy at night, and “cold.”), we walk over to the lodge together.
thanks for saving the fish, Dixon. maybe next time, you can let me know that the fish isn’t on enough ice at 6pm after you bring it up from Chris’ boat. I suppose I’m to blame- I didn’t see the fish once they were put in the cooler. lesson learned...
...and ceviche made! A simple simple recipe: I cubed the fresh fish, tossed it with lime juice, orange juice, bell chiles, onion, garlic, salt and tabasco. Right now I’m serving it all day as a snack. Dinner tonight is seared filet over eggplant, zucchini, fresh tomatoes and ricotta pasta. 
 dig in!