Independence Weekend   Leave a comment

 

When I was younger (much younger), July 4th was one of my favorite holidays.  I remember being thrilled and a little bit terrified by the loud explosions that accompanies fireworks displays.  Then came my teenage years and young adulthood and I shied away from being a flag waving kind of guy.  So there was a period of time when I didn’t feel compelled to attend fireworks displays although there was one memorable trip to Manhattan to watch the Macy’s Fireworks over the East River from Tudor City.  There was also the insanity of getting out of there along with thousands of others (some of whom thought it would be fun to throw fireworks into the crowd).  Yeah, that was FUN.

Then about 12 years ago, as my marriage was in the midst of disintegration, I started to reexamine what it was to be me.  Newly separated, where did I see myself with my newly found independence going?  The notion of Independence rang with an unexperienced and personal clarity for me.  This was not merely an opportunity to leave a less than ideal situation– it was an opportunity redefine my personal destiny.  An opportunity to create something greater or destroy everything.  It is frightening and exhilarating as the same time– like being on a roller coaster without seat belts.

Toward the end of 2000, Ms. R came into my life.  She is a dynamo of positive energy.  She helps to define the path that we are both on.  In early 2003, Ms. R had the idea to throw a party the weekend of July 4th.  Thus was born the first Independence Celebration– a way to celebrate our country’s independence and our own very personal independence.  This event, and its sister hangover recovery New Year’s Day event known as the “Hair of the Dog” Brunch, have become not only culinary milestones for me– an opportunity to stretch my capabilities in the kitchen– but also personal markers for us to see who we are and who are the friends that help to define us the most as the years have gone by. 

In the past, I have tried different cuisines and I try not to repeat dishes.  This year, is no different.  The main event was a Peruvian dish called Lomo Saltado which I have had in  Peruvian restaurant.  A little East Meets West kind of thing going on: Steak marinated in a combination of primarily soy sauce, vinegar and cumin.  Traditionally, this is stir fried, but we had a grilled version from Bobby Flay this year.  Easy to prepare and delicious.  Everyone was looking for the recipe.  It’s out there on the internet.   We served it with a variation on the classic Moros y Cristianos (Black Beans over White Rice) flavored with turkey bacon instead of a ham hock– another big hit.

In prior years this has been a predominantly wine event.  But this year, beers all around and my buddy, CK’s high-test Margaritas as well as a Jamaican rum punch that another friend brought.

To open, however, I served a grilled sausages and a version of a Spanish dish, Grilled Camarones al Ajillo (Garlic Prawns).  I love this dish because you cannot put too much garlic in it.  Just be sure to allow at least 30 minutes for the marinade to soak in.

Grilled Camarones al Ajillo

2 lbs of shrimp thawed and peeled

For the Marinade:

  • One head of garlic– separate, peel and roughly chop the cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/2 cup Amontillado (a semi sweet sherry) 

Directions:

  1. Liquefy all ingredients in an electric blender– this will yield a beautifully green marinade
  2. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and insert in a one gallon plastic bag
  3. Pour the green marinade over the shrimp and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
  4. 1/2 hour before grilling, remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature
  5. Meanwhile bring the grill to a high temperature
  6. If you are inclined to do so, skewer the shrimp with previously hydrated bamboo skewers; if you’re lazy like me, just put them on the grill, but be prepared to lose a few as they slip through the grill grate.
  7. Grill the shrimp for no more than a couple of minutes per side
  8. Serve immediately

Sybarite Sauvage ©

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Posted July 4, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

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