It's great to be getting up at 5:30 am again. I have my first cup of strong Guatamalan coffee out on the dock while the sun rises. I was excited to see the distant silhouettes of a couple of dug-outs this morning on the calm as glass sea. A couple of the locals were out diving the patches of coral between the reef and the mainland for lobsters. If they know I'm back, I'll be thier first stoip in selling them.
Sure enough, Ivan stopped by with some nice sized lobsters and I bought 5 pounds of tails. They clean the still kicking crustaceans right on my dock and I ask for about 5 of the bodies. I will boil them and freeze the stock for such dishes as Belizean Boullabaisse, Lobster Bisque, and it is my secret ingredient for the clay pot version of Belizean Paella I do. I'll put the stock, saffron and rice in the clay pot with some of my own smoked sausage and cook it for half hour in the oven with no lid. Then I remove the pot and add fresh shrimp, grouper, lobster and any of the meats we smoke weekly. The lid goes back on and I finish it in the oven for 20 minutes and remove the clay pot, lid still on and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then, to the table and the resulting aroma-therapy olfactory overload as the lid is removed to the oohs and ahhs of salivating diners at the Barracuda Bar and Grill.
I will venture down to the vegetable stand in the middle of Hopkins later this morning to buy fresh veggies for tonights menu. Fresh jicama, peppers and onions, and some eggplant for my vegetarian feature of the night, eggplant parmesan. For a chef, there is no closer one can get to the food than buying fish from your own dock and vegetable from the farmers themselves. The pineapple guy will come on Monday and Thursday with the sweetest pineapples I've ever tasted, just picked that morning. Angie and I will go pick oranges and grapefruit from a friends grove for fresh squeezed juices as well as for our signature drink, the Grapefruit Margarita.
I was happy to see that one of my Italian Basil plants was kept alive through the stormy summer we had here while I was back in Alaska. I re-seeded more and the special order pinenuts should be here next week to make some great pesto.
Also growing well while I was gone are my Papaya trees, a mere foot tall when I left, these trees are now 15 feet and laden with thier succulent fruit. They'll be perfect by the time we start doing breakfast for our guests in a couple weeks.
Stay tuned for more fun and recipes and life in Hopkins, Belize, because I'm just getting started.