Monday, July 19, 2010

A weekend of grilling in the parks

The Pacific coast weather is predictably insane. For two days this weekend my friends and I tried to go to the beach, and ended up grilling in the park instead. The weather forecast was great. Since one of the guys is a pilot, just before as we were getting ready to laeve, he would look up the real-time weather on the pilot's website. Both days, just as we were getting ready to leave, the fog was coming in over the beaches. So we had to go to some inland park instead - did we have a choice? Inland, the weather was glorious.

On Saturday, it was Edgewood Park in San Carlos. Since I was very tired after promoting my Personal Chef service all morning at a Mimosa-heavy networking event , M. had to take care of all the food. Her special is tuna poke, made with a poke mix that she gets in a secret Japanese store. There is pink seaweed, salt, and spices in the mix. I don't like it when she makes it according to the recipe, one package per pound of tuna; it comes out too salty and spicy. This time she seasoned 1.5 lb tuna with that one package - and it was perfect!

M. also brought wakame salad, to go with the poke, and shitake mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and a huge bag of baby bok choy that we rubbed with olive oil and grilled.

There had to be adventures, of course: First, we forgot salt, and the guys had to run back to the supermarket while we were placing the unsalted vegetables on the grill. Second, in the background of the mushroom picture you can see Martin the dog. He is illegal. Dogs are not allowed in the park. But it's a very small print on the very bottom of the park website, so we didn't realize it until a ranger kicked Martin (and his seriously pissed-off owner) out of the park.

On Sunday, I had recovered from doing business and was ready to go to the ocean. The pilot guy checked the pilot's info, and the fog was coming in all over the cost. We had to go grill in Coyote Point park in San Mateo. Martin was not coming.

This time R. and I were getting the groceries, and the other guys were bringing the charcoal, plates, forks and napkins. We stopped at Belmont farmers market 10 minutes before close, and got wonderful heirloom tomatoes, small delicate Japanese eggplants, mixed squashes and spring onions. We also got a two-pound seabass steak, a large slice of cooked octopus, enoki mushrooms, ripe mangos, and Thai basil in Marina market.

Then we got a picnic table, and sat and waited. And waited. Watched the sailboats and kite surfers on the bay, and colorful international parties around us in the picnic area. And waited. I borrowed a plate from the Russian party to our left and started preparing the vegetables.

Finally, our people came. They brought salt, fancy glasses, new grilling tools, and Mai Tai mix, but forgot plates, so they had to drive back to a supermarket. Just as they came back, I found out that we are out of paper towels. So we had to borrow some paper napkins from a Mexican party to our right.

The octopus looks like a scary sea monster, but it makes a tasty grilled snack, has strong aroma of the sea, and is smoky and chewy.

The sea bass we seasoned with salt (forgot the pepper, sure), brushed with olive oil, and grilled for about 7 minutes each side; served with a salsa made of mangoes, spring onions, red bell peppers, and Thai basil.

Enoki mushrooms grill beautifully if you keep the root attached while cooking. The root keeps them from separating and falling through the grill. Cut the root off before serving.

Grilled eggplant and squashes didn't last long enough to get photographed.

No comments: