Brodetto, and Vanilla Pannacotta

So yesterday I decided to treat my wife, as I do on a regular basis, in case that typical thought popped into your head. As I am currently unemployed I have become the houseboy, which is not a completely accurate description, as I do not have to perform any undesirable tasks for the mistress of the house. But I am straying way off topic right now. We can always explore this further at another time.

As much as I have spent many wonderful and fruitful hours in the kitchen, I’m not a baker nor a dessert maker, but I’d watched a guy on TV describe making pannacotta with such pleasure, that I was inspired to try making it from scratch.

Pannacotta is an Italian dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. It can then be flavored with many options like brandy, coffee, fruit or vanilla, as in this recipe. The recipe called for gelatin which I have never ever used before. Dutifully I followed the instructions adding a tablespoon of cold water to the gelatin powder and ended up with a sticky ball the size of a grape inside the whisk. The dissolved gelatin was supposed to be poured, which was clearly not going to happen with this glutinous little rival. So I checked the instructions on the gelatin package, (yeah-yeah), I hear it, R.T.F.M., which says to use hot water to dissolve the powder into. Finally, I had a clear liquid that could be poured. With an immense sense of accomplishment, I could measure this warm rich vanilla flavoured liquid into some ramekin dishes, and popped them in the fridge.

I then proceeded to prepare the Brodetto.

Brodetto is Italian fish stew, and there are multiple variations on the recipe. I chose Brodetto Ancona style.

The recipe I chose called for red snapper. As there is no fishmonger in the little town where I live, I headed off to the supermarket, only to find out that there was no red snapper available. The young girl, I swear could not be older than 16, behind the deli counter assured me that the fresh rockfish that was on display is a suitable substitute. Not really convinced of that, I bought the rockfish fillets.

Once I arrived home, and a quick search on Google, I confirmed that she was, in fact, right about the Pacific Rockfish, also known as Pacific Red Snapper.

So along with fresh clams, 3 tiny lobster tails and bay scallops my first attempt at this fish stew began its life. The rockfish turned out to be succulent bathed in the tomato-rich broth with toasted yeasty Italian bread on the side for one of the servings and smothered with the stew for the other serving. The clams and scallops still held their individual flavours. This may be a peasant meal but it made me feel like I owned the sea.

I served the Pannacotta on shortbread slices, with warmed orange marmalade on top which oozed down the sides like molten lava melting the Pannacotta along its way. I believe I’ve converted my wife to a dessert lover, well at least to a Vanilla Pannacotta lover.

I am not sorry, or maybe just a little, that there isn’t a single photo, as the plates were polished off.

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Cuban Seafood at Lenny’s Bar and Grill

 

 

note the lid on the bin
Lenny’s Bar and Grill, Cayo Coco, Cuba.

Lenny’s Bar and Grill at Playa Prohibido, Cayo Coco, Cuba is a destination experience, it certainly was for us, having picked it to celebrate my 50th birthday.

 

From the 50’s Chevy in the parking lot, the rustic wooden bar to the makeshift kitchen, this is a piece of Cuba that I hope will be preserved. New resorts may start to sprout like mushrooms, but that is also dependant on how the, now symbolic, US  embargo pans out.

 

 

Lenny's Bar and Grill, Cayo Coco, Cuba
The purple Chevy at Lenny’s Bar and Grill.

 

 

The distinguishing feature of Lenny’s is the dozens of Canadian car registration plates, which cannot be missed as you enter the place, and gaze up. Concentric rings of plates are mounted on the underside of the low hanging grass roof.

Registration plates -99% Canadian
Registration plates -99% Canadian

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is only one dish to order, hence no menu, plain yet delicious. Grilled lobster, fried fish and prawns, plain rice, slaw and a few slices of cucumber and tomato. Of course,  it was washed down with copious amounts of ice-cold beer and cheap white wine.

Sitting on rattan chairs at plastic covered wooden tables,  just a few metres from the turquoise sea, with a light breeze blowing and a bright sun.

The lobster was a little over grilled, the coleslaw under seasoned, but these become trivialities when you consider the big picture, the ambience that makes things taste a thousand times better. 

I almost forgot the rooster! Yes, the meal is accompanied by the  crowing of a rooster, coming from somewhere behind the restaurant. Just another incongruous feature to add to the ambience.

I left my Tilley hat there, but the entire adventure made me happy.

There is more to tell, but I’ll let you explore Lenny’s further on your own. There is an interesting story behind its name.