Friday, September 11, 2009

Tarragon Shrimp Snap Pea Salad

Goodbye to the Extreme Summer Series! Why? Because it's cold, dammit. Also raining. Perhaps I'll include more garden photography in future posts anyway, absent of theme. But mourn not for Extreme Summer--I shall speak of Fall Fashion Week parties instead.


1 large head fennel, shaved thin, fronds reserved
4 oz. slivered ricotta salata
6 oz. sugar snap peas, julienned
1 small shallot, shaved very thin
3 springs fresh tarragon, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped rough
12 shrimp, tails removed, seasoned with a little salt and pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. honey or agave
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
Harpoon Leviathan Big Bohemian Pilsner

1) Mince your fennel fronds. Toss them with the snap peas, ricotta salata, fennel, shallot and fresh tarragon in a bowl. Set aside.
2) Whisk or shake together the mayonnaise, honey or agave, white wine vinegar, poppy seeds salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste.
3) Heat the olive oil in a skillet. When oil is hot, add red pepper flake and garlic and saute until garlic is nearly golden, about 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook until tender and just pink. Set shrimp aside.
4) Scrape the oil, pepper flake and garlic from the skillet into the salad bowl with the fennel and snap peas. Add dressing to salad and toss well to coat. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
5) Arrange your shrimp over the salad.
6) Open Harpoon Leviathan Pilsner.
7) Enjoy together.

Harpoon's Leviathan series is really growing on us. They don't make outrageously good standard bottles yet, although some are quite drinkable, but the Leviathan series is what its name implies: big. Now, a 9% alcohol pilsner is admittedly counter-intuitive, but it's also very good. The classic pilsner malts are nice and frothy, as the brewer's notes mention, and they used Czech hops for further authenticity. Apart from that, however, this is anything but an average pilsner--the hops are very aromatic with lots of grape and lemon notes from the big malt profile. Very tasty, doesn't drink like it's 9% hooch, so use with caution but by all means enjoy with shellfish! Delicious.

So NYC launched Fall Fashion Week last night, and I helped them pull the trigger. We spent a good spell of time at Versani and then wandered over to Prada to see all our other friends. Gabe bartends next door, so he's pretty much the Sam Malone of the flagship Prada, and man alive am I happy to know the fabulously artistic cats who sell luggage worth more than my car, when I had a car. (I have no car.) The employees at Versani and Prada are the nicest people, and the evening was absurdly fun all round. There might, admittedly, be better things than a night of free champagne and ace-high people-watching while wearing an ivory cloche hat, but nothing occurs to me at the moment.

Hair and make-up by me. The dress is vintage and thrift-store purchased. Cloche hat by H&M, $12.95. Boots not shown, but were a gift from Mom. Thanks, Mom! Tights from Daffy's Clothing Bargains for Millionaires. Necklace by Prada with Swarovski crystals. Necklace does not belong to me, but they let me try it on. Necklace costs approximately triple what Gabe and I spent on a month in Thailand. Necklace costs are frankly prohibitive. Necklace costs about as much as my entire beautiful catered wedding ten years back (same general figure). Necklace will never be mine. But we were good friends for a brief time. I'd like to think when this necklace finds a home, it will occasionally speak of me over appetizers when its owner is sipping oysters and French rose champagne.

I had a grand time talking to everyone on the streets about art and style. A class act purple bow tie-wearing gent and I were interviewed in front of Vera Wang's fete about the mood of the celebration, and whether we thought it elitist. Elitist? It was a block party. With free champagne. Free sushi. Free bands. And hardly any of the designers had guest lists. The ones who did have guest lists, the bloggers report, had lamer parties. So there! Viva riffraff and artists and thrift store dresses! Opening Ceremony cleared out all their display windows so the common folk could pose as mannequins. That's what I call fashion.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Extreme Summer Garden Party

I love my neighborhood! And my neighbors. And eating clams and boiling crabs and grilling sweet potatoes while people play African dance and spin old skool Beck tunes.

INGREDIENTS (for successful garden party):
1 huge metal vat with an ungodly dangerous propane flame under it
plenty of 22 oz. bottles of Budweiser
a bunch of fresh crabs that keep trying to crawl away from their boxes
1 assload of Old Bay seasoning
a nearby fire station if necessary
plenty of beer, wine, and friends
good weather
African dancers

1) Heat vat over ungodly dangerous propane tank, being careful throughout process not to die.
2) Pour in Budweiser and bring to a boil.
3) Dump in a bunch of crabs and cook them until they aren't alive and are nice and red.
4) Eat them with your friends. Enjoy a beer simultaneously.