Sunday, March 7, 2010

Grilling trout by the Bay

The spring is here, we just had two sunny days in a row!

Yesterday we went for a short walk in China Camp park, which is a five minute drive from where I live. It's an old Chinese shrimp fishermen's village made into a park and an outdoor museum, with an old pier, a couple of century-old fishing boats, fishermen's cottages, shrimp-drying oven, Chinese vegetable garden, and a picnic area.

The water in front of the park is one of the very few places on the Bay where sailboats can anchor - it is legal to anchor there, and the bottom holds relatively well. This is a long sail from almost anywhere, so boat people like to come to China camp and stay overnight, then sail back the next day. It can be a very comfortable anchorage if there is no wind, but usually the wind (from the shore, thankfully) keeps you cold and nervious all night.

So yesterday was one of these rare balmy days with some sunshine and no wind, and the boat people seemed happy. There were a few people on the shore: a sunbathing family trying to keep their kids out of the water, a photographer doing an outdoor glamor shot, the model looking comfortable in her short sundress, and some tourists, taking pictures of themselves with their phones. The picnic area was deserted. We regretted not bringing food at once, and promised each other that if it doesn't rain tomorrow, we'll come back and picnic.

So this morning we got two beautiful rainbow trouts at the farmers market. I rubbed them with salt and pepper, put two rosemary sprigs, a bay leaf, and a few lemon slices inside, and tied them with the kitchen twine, adding some lemon and rosemary, then packed them into a cooler with ice. R. loaded a bag of hardwood charcoal, lighter fluid, and grilling tools into the car, and to the park we went.
By the time we got there, the picnic area was almost full. We found a table with a view, but it wasn't easy. And the wind picked up to some 30 knots or so. While R. was building the fire, I set up the table, weighting the plastic plates down with glasses with water and protecting the salad with the picnic basket. At some point a gust of wind actually knocked the wine bottle and a bottle of salad dressing off the table! Our neighbors run chasing their light paper plates, plastic glasses, and the umbrella all over the park.

R. doesn't really care about cooking (as long as the food comes to table in time), but he loves to play with the fire, and the stinky lighter fluid is his favorite toy. I have to indulge him, and while I usually avoid using the fluid myself, when he's tending the fire, the fluid goes in, and I have to wait till the smell burns off. After the stink was gone and the charcoals were ready, it took the fish (brushed with olive oil) about 8 minutes on each side to reach perfection.

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