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Posts Tagged ‘Mallomars’

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Hey now! We love these!

1) Get the unfathomably groovy idea of making them from scratch.

2.) Find a recipe from an esteemed resource who would know from these things.

2a) Strut a little.

3) Make the graham cracker cookie bases, which turn out surprisingly delicious in their own right, and not just as a generic circle to hold the two gooey toppings.

4) Make the marshmallow, which I’ve done before many times using another recipe. Realize that this new recipe is different from the former in several ways, the most notable being that the former did not turn the product into Insta-Cement.

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No, this is the second batch. As if my hands, stricken with stickin’, could maneuver a camera with the first.

5) Coax the marshmallow from the piping bag onto the cookies with warm, carefully chosen expletives. To which it’s actually responsive, and confirms that the recipe must come from the south. Far, far, FAR south. Like underground south.

5a) Decide next time to use the marshmallow recipe that comes from more northern climes.

6) Melt chocolate. Read the recipe that says to dip the cookies into it by hand. Choose not to spend what would otherwise be a productive evening in the ER with third-degree burns that smell like chocolate, and carefully pour the chocolate onto each marshmallowed cookie. Feel winningly like Jacques Torres.

7) Watch in horror as the marshmallow oozes off each cookie under the heat and weight of the hot chocolate, like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but with better ingredients. Try to add more chocolate, but get the same results.

8) Shoot them maybe five different ways, each time having them insist on coming out blurry.

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Probably out of a deep sense of personal shame.

9) Taste one. It’s bloody effing fantastic. Question whether people would find it worrisome if I asked them to shut their eyes, then grope their way into the cookie bag, and then taste them.

10) Take my chances, dip them the way the recipe suggests, and find it works better than my Jacques Torres-y pouring method, even though some still ooze. Realize that there are plenty of people in my circle who are happy eating my kitchen mistakes.

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11) Re-panic when I also realize that since I don’t know how to temper chocolate–which the recipe does not even mention needs doing—it means there’s a solid chance the chocolate will have bloomed* by morning.

12) Cheer in a confused way** when even after Day 4, the chocolate topping has not bloomed.

12a) Get seriously cocky.

13) Bake Batch #2 with the worry-free poise of a principal dancer in the Ballet Russe who’s hoisted by a dancer with thighs like carved cedar. Use the favored northern marshmallow recipe, dip, and otherwise treat Batch #2 precisely as I did Batch #1.

14) Swear blue and green the next morning when 2/3 of them bloom.

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15) Seek out alternate chocolate topping for Batch #3, to be prepared this weekend.

16) With a fork, chip wedges of cooled chocolate out of the bottom of the Pyrex bowl and poke it into mouth. Do the same with the marshmallowy chocolatey dripped bits that are stuck to the cookie racks.

17) Be soothed.

*Tempering is the method by which chocolate is kept heated to a certain, consistent temperature, and guarantees a glossy finish. If you don’t do it, the chocolate blooms. It doesn’t affect the taste, but it looks funky.

**This isn’t easy. You try it.

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Seaweed on coral, Tortola

The recent warm days are making me think of barbecue season and the best barbecue I ever ate. Is it treason against the U.S. if I said it was on Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands?

Right, we’ll come back to that. First let’s establish setting.

Tortola and Peter Island are two of the delicious Caribbean islands which we visited in early 2008. I was coming out of the throes of a years-long illness which led, at different points, to assorted travel whims. At this point in my recovery, I needed a change of scenery, just for a long weekend. And if it included pale turquoise water sliced with royal blue and had a view of hazy green islands, the kind Peter Pan and Wendy flew across, all the better.

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Tortola isn’t really remote, but it feels as if it is. The customs office is the size of a two-car garage. Chickens run around like squirrels everywhere you go; one of our taxi drivers waited to let a mommy and her seven tawny-colored chicks cross the road.* And a rooster was our 5am wake-up call.**

Our hotel, Long Bay Beach, is the kind of place where the cooking staff picks guava off the tree growing outside your window, every suite has its own hammock, and dawn comes up pink over the water. One whole wall of our room, the one that faced the water, was a sliding screen door, some ten feet long. We left it open whenever we were in the room, loving the balmy wind so much that we even put shells and rocks on anything likely to blow away. One morning on our way to breakfast, a blue macaw flew right over our heads.

Dawn, Long Bay Beach, Tortola

Sand crab, Tortola

A very, very shy sand crab taken with a very, very good zoom.

Pelican, Tortola

A pelican we watched from our balcony as he dove up and down in the water, looking for fish.

Breakfast at the hotel was just my bag: fresh pineapple, banana, guava juice, cereal, yogurt and perfect homemade lemon poppy seed muffins.

First we took a day trip to Peter Island, population 1, because we planned to kayak from there to Dead Chest. This was the place where folklore says Blackbeard marooned 15 men–that’s a one-way island vacation in the middle of bloody nowhere—with just a bottle of rum between them. Everyone we spoke with on Peter Island told us it was nothing more than a giant rock, and dissuaded us from going.

Dead Chest Island, from Peter Island

There it is, across Deadman’s Bay–the appropriately dark island at left.

So we didn’t. Next time. But no worries; instead we hiked the island, which was all at once a glorious tropical Eden…

Peter Island, B.V.I.

Peter Island

and the American southwest, featuring spiky vegetation…

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…and spikier animals.

Sunning iguana, Peter Island

He didn’t budge in the 20 minutes we spent admiring him and his comrades on the rocks. Showboat.

The hills along the three-mile path we hiked were also home to mountain goats, skittish things that would tiptoe near you to get a better look, then would scamper away through the trees.

One more detail about the day trip to Peter Island is worth noting, and that’s the ferry ride. No sitting in the lower cabin and looking through the fogged-over windows for me. I only like ferries if they move at a really good clip and if I can stand right on the bow, letting the sea spray wash over my face and hair and dew-dropping the outermost layer of my clothes.*** This one did. And the view of the islands we passed was hypnotic.

On the way back from Peter Island to Tortola we shared the ferry with several locals returning home for the night. And we witnessed something so charming that it has stayed with me. Up on deck one of the gentlemen broke out some Dominoes and set them on a table. I deducted that this game was played on the ferry every night because other men fell in very smoothly, in a loose and easy choreography. Empty five-gallon buckets were upended for seats, and players joined and left from time to time, including a uniformed kid in charge of the ferry and a grizzled older sailor, an American ex-pat who now lived on Tortola. ‘I haven’t played in 25 years, but what the hell,’ he said, and stayed in for the rest of the ride back. What struck me most was how relaxed and comfortable everyone was with each other, and it was a reminder of how much joy is accessible in the simple. I could see why one would want to slide out of an old life, as if out of a jacket worn too thin at the elbows, and sink happily into a life like this.

Time to eat.

We asked our cabbie about the Bomba Shack, which Frommer’s listed as the ticket for barbecue in this part of the Caribbean. And apparently on Wednesdays and Sundays they offered all you can eat for $10/plate. Hello.

He stopped next to a set of shacks that looked as if they’d been decorated by a group of pre-teen surfers after a ten-box Mallomar binge.

Bomba Shack, Tortola

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How to explain this place? Here’s one way: The owners apparently have created a god of sorts called Bomba whose nature isn’t clear, and Google was no help. But you’re encouraged to offer sacrifices to it (note underwear, above).

Here’s another way: The Bomba Shack serves shroom-spiked tea when the moon is full.****And they give it to you for free because they aren’t allowed to sell it. The menu is scrawled onto plywood out front. Music—emanating from speakers taller than me—is cranked up to levels that could orbit Jupiter, and grill smoke and customers alike float between the shacks. We paid the cabbie right in the middle of the street and went looking for dinner.

The party is on one side of the street. There, to a very friendly American woman behind a counter, we shrieked that we wanted two plates’ worth; she grinned, took our money and gave us tickets. The cook (a single woman) and picnic tables are on the other side of the street.

You have a choice of barbecued chicken or ribs. Both come with corn on the cob and red beans with rice, and I’ll stop here to bring up a concern that I’m sure is swimming through your logic-loving minds: Exactly what kind of lunatics eat at an open-air shack on a dirt road, one whose owners hand out drugs and worship a deity with a preference for women’s panties?

I’m not saying you don’t have a point. But we did it. One bite of that meal and all sense floated out to sea with the grill smoke. The barbecue sauce had a no-BS kick, and the meat from the chicken and the ribs slid off the bone with no embarrassment whatsoever. It was delectable—one of the great meals of our lives. We shared a table with some amiable Australians, licked our fingers and grinned at each other. Lunacy loves company.

Then we crossed the street to watch the surfers cut through waves shimmering from the apricot-colored sunset, soaking even further into a place where the night wind smells like earth and salt water.

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*For the obvious reason.

**Click the rooster link. Long Bay Beach is yellow–but a muted yellow. Not a biggie.

***My first name comes from the Latin word for ‘sea’ (mars). The genitive is ‘maris’ (of the sea). Put an ‘a’ on the end and you make it feminine: Girl of the sea. Yes, I’m a mermaid. My parents didn’t do this intentionally, but there it is.

****No, we didn’t. The moon wasn’t full, anyway.

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