Friday, June 1, 2012
Diver Scallops with Polenta, Zucchini, Radish, and Chive Blossom
1 12 ounce bottle Green Flash Rayon Vert
four large diver scallops
1 tsp ground coriander
four thick slices of cooked polenta (solid leftover polenta from home or the pre-made; we used organic Food Merchants brand)
one medium zucchini, sliced in rounds
1 cup of thinly sliced red radish
4 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
4 ounces of butter, divided
about 1/2 cup of minced roasted bell pepper (we used a nice jarred variety)
a baby fennel frond, pulled into about ten small pieces
2 purple chive blossoms, buds separated
salt and fresh black pepper
8 ounces arugula leaves
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
dash of salt
pinch of sugar
1) Combine the arugula leaves, olive oil, salt, and sugar in a food processor and puree. Strain the liquid into a squeeze bottle or other receptacle of choice and discard the solids. Set arugula oil aside.
2) Season the scallops on the bottom and top with salt, pepper, and coriander.
3) Divide the butter in half and heat until foam subsides in two heavy skillets (we used cast irons).
4) Saute the zucchini in one skillet and the radish and garlic in the other over medium heat, well seasoned with salt and pepper. When cooked through, about 5 minutes, transfer the zucchini to your serving plates and sprinkle the radish and garlic over it.
5) Garnish the vegetables with about five fennel fronds per plate.
6) Add oil or more butter to your skillets if necessary and bring back to medium high heat. In one skillet, sear the polenta on both sides until nicely browned. In the other, cook the sea scallops, turning to sear on both sides as well. This should take about 4 minutes per side for the shellfish, supposing you have jumbo scallops.
7) Layer two polenta rounds on each plate over the zucchini, radish, and fresh fennel.
8) Place sea scallops on tops of polenta rounds.
9) Garnish scallops with minced red bell pepper and chive blossoms.
10) Drizzle arugula oil around the perimeter of both plates.
11) Open Green Flash Rayon Vert. Enjoy together.
According to Green Flash, a fabulous brewing company located in the heady beer mecca of San Diego, California, the Rayon Vert would have been their flagship brew had they accidentally conceived the brewery in Belgium instead of the United States. That's a fine endorsement, and the beer stands up to the praise. Its pours with a rabidly enthusiastic Belgian-style head, softly foamy and frothy and lingering, with a hazy orange color below. Due to the use of Belgian yeast, there's a touch of medicinal funk on the nose along with the piney hop aroma. Sip this beer gently as you fork into your sea scallops and you will not be sorry, we found. The sweetness of the scallop was brightened by the round, subtle citrus of the Rayon Vert, and its dry earthiness really complemented the buttery veg and polenta. All in all a splendid pairing, and one hell of a fine lunch.
(A word about Green Flash--they're a small company who make killer beer and partner with local charities who request donations. In other words, they're good people. So drink their beer. It'll make your heart strong.)
I went on my first book tour!
(Takes moment to scream HEAVENLYGODHEAVENLYGODHEAVENLYGOD a la Eddie Murphy crossing the freeway in Bowfinger.)
It was awesome. I learned a great deal, and went to three cities total--the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ; Murder by the Book in Houston, TX; and Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis, MN. Here are a few of the things I learned, in no particular order.
--Everything authors say about book tours is true.
--That is, they largely consist of being alone in airports. This aspect is ameliorated by the fact that I visited not one, not two, but SIX airport bookstores and signed their copies of The Gods of Gotham as a cure for my own boredom.
--I have a tumblr and can look at pretty dresses and BBC Sherlock screencaps too, which is remarkably...time consuming.
--Also, being alone in a hotel room is exotic on the first night, still rather glamorous the second, and by the third, you are watching all three Matrix films in a row and conducting this conversation with yourself:
ME: The third Matrix movie can't have been as bad as I remember. I must have had unreasonable expectations.
ME: No, I remember it was bad. But true, I could have been in a foul mood that day and just hated on everything.
ME: See how much fun the second one still is?
ME: You're right.
ME: The third Matrix movie is about to be awesome.
ME: Sit back and prepare to enjoy it like a kid at a carnival.
ME: You're so open minded.
ME: This is going to be deeply satisfying Hollywood entertainment.
ME: WHAT THE ACTUAL F***, third Matrix movie...?
ME: OK, that effect was kind of cool.
ME: Was this movie written by monkeys?
ME: No. Monkeys give every indication of experiencing emotions. This movie was written by a spinning Wheel-of-Fortune type line generating device.
ME: Keanu Reeves, blink like that one more time and I will--
ME: How many Agent Smiths do we really need, people? When we know Neo will kick their asses regardless of exact number?
ME: So that's your explanation for everything? That seemed like a good way to end...
ME: All expenses are presumably paid by Penguin. Let's set the TV on fire.
--It is possible to be nervous about giving the same speech you have now given four times successfully. Trust me.
--"Media escorts" are wonderful people who schlep authors out of airports and to multiple book stores for signings. They are very charming and dislike that the word "escort" connotes "sex worker." However, in fairness, upon meeting them, one does not assume them to be in the pornography industry, because they do not have Tom Selleck moustaches.
--Planes come automatically equipped with screaming children.
--The Valley Ho Hotel is the best hotel EVER. I'm not telling you the price of their happy hour drinks, you'll all move to Scottsdale. Also...just look at that bathtub, people.
--Booksellers are very kind, intelligent, generous people and I heart them. All of them were so kind to me, and they had piles and piles of my novel. It rocked.
--Houston is way, way cooler than I ever expected or even ruminated upon.
--People in Minneapolis are crazy into arts and books. I enjoy this about them.
--If you throw a pebble in a big city after having advertized your event on Facebook, you'll probably hit an affable Sherlockian.
It was a great time. There's no place like home and I ate too much hotel bacon, but so goes the natural course of things. If anyone ever asks me to go on a tour again, I will be delighted and grateful. Also, my suitcase will be much lighter--after tweeting that I carry far too many books with me due to reading quickly on planes, a Sherlockian from Canada took it upon himself instantly to mail me his old Kindle. Because, of course you would do that. And pay foreign postage to do so. It arrived this afternoon.
I mean, I ask you...are people lovely, or are people lovely?