"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bacon-Wrapped Trout with Rosemary

Although I live in a seaside town and theoretically all fish for sale here should be the best fish on the planet, for some reason I am somewhat dubious when I buy fish at Shaw's. Without any evidence to support this I assume that for REALLY fresh fish I should go a half mile down the street to an independent fish monger and that THAT will be the best fish. Ever.

The problem, of course, is one of convenience--I buy almost all my work groceries at Shaw's, and when I shop for home it's just the store on the way. The other problem is that my favorite fish place takes cash only and has limited hours.

But every once in a while I see fish there that is so gorgeously fresh that it looks like it just jumped out of the water into the fish case. And last night I found myself the proud owner of whole croaker, even though I had never seen one before and had no idea what to do with it.

I sort of vaguely remembered a recipe in the book for whole trout that involved bacon and rosemary, so I procured those items and went home to try my luck.

All I can say is: thank you Aunt Florence and Uncle Eldon for teaching me how to gut and scale a fish when I was seven years old because once I took Mr. Croaker out of his paper wrapper I realized he needed both. This is an activity that is so visceral that once you do it, will never forget how, and 34 years later it was no problem at all.

My friend Elizabeth was over having a cocktail with us, and this activity (aside from providing much merriment watching scales fly everywhere) brought a cascade of memories from her of her childhood off the Georgia coast seine- and cast-net fishing, gutting and scaling fish on her neighbor's wooden table and eating what was the children's favorite out of all this business: fried skate wing nuggets.

The recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Trout with Rosemary worked brilliantly with the croaker and my only regret is that I didn't buy two--the fillets made a scanty meal for Don and me though I bolstered it up with corn, salad and roasted kohlrabi.

There was another gorgeous fish in that case: mackerel. And tonight I'll be trying Grilled Mackerel with Spicy Tomato Jam. Stay tuned.

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