Friday, May 19

En Route to Shoal Bay, B.C.

This photo was taken by Jonathan “Shlomo” Cooper, marketing manager and photographer for Grand Banks. He’s a great guy with tons of talent as this photo clearly demonstrates. He said the star was the asparagus, no offense, and could I back out of the photo even more. Love that guy. Love him. Mean it.

Our group has completely bonded, me and Max, Jonathan, David “Buck (Naked)” Hensel, Marketing/Communications Director for Grand Banks, and Justin, a photographer/reporter for an Italian magazine. Justin and Jonathan leave today and Max and I are blue. Fortunately J.C., aka Shlomo “I’m not a New York Jew”, Cooper returns in 4 days.

I discovered the other day that Buck (Naked), was the author of “50 ways to kill your chef” posted previously and therefore the person I had originally thought was the author is not (interestingly, I have so many brilliant people in my life, it was no less than 3 people I had accused).

It’s a bit disconcerting that someone so sick (and hilarious) and so fascinated by inventing ways that chefs have lost their lives on the high seas is sharing close quarters. Fortunately, for me, I’ve retrained the knife forged in Satan’s workshop to attack other people, not just myself. Love that guy. Love him. Mean it. We keep making little otter hands and upon my return to Seattle I’ve vowed to make W.W.M.J.D? “What would Mobily Juckers do?” t-shirts. On the backside they would say, “a seafood buffet to last a lifetime” or something like that.

I must say sharing tight quarters with Max has been a hilarious study in awkward ballet moves (which includes maneuvers like my now signature pose - standing on her bed to get things out of my bed’s little cabinet and looking over my shoulder, my butt in her face.) Other times we are engaging in a yacht-de-deux, stumbling and bumbling and giggling around. Max, aka “Imelda Marcos”, was open to my suggestion of stowing her 5 pairs of shoes underneath our ladder to our hatch. Love that girl. Love her. Mean it.

I’m really beginning to get into a rhythm on board. Up early, I enter the galley with the sun shining (the weather has been absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous) and set about making breakfasts. It’s surprisingly my favorite time of the day as I get to slowly move around the galley, slicing fruit, baking scones, watching it all out the window as I work. It’s quiet and peaceful. The smells of lemon scones filled the boat this morning, flavored with some lemon thyme I harvested off the aft-deck herb pot I planted up in Roche Harbor.

I had my first cooking class on board yesterday. 9 folks came on board from the group, 2 of whom are from Japan, one doesn’t speak any English at all. It was fun getting him to say the names of ingredients in Japanese. I taught the class how to make a Thai curry with chicken, tamarind, peanuts and ginger paired with coconut rice wrapped in banana leaves. I also taught the class my favorite Malaysian inspired salad: tender butter lettuce topped with a mixture of fried tofu, mango slivers, herbs and sweet chile dressing. We grilled prawns on the flybridge grill and garnished the salad with them. Afterwards we hosted a potluck on board. Gunter, a boater from Germany, had collected the sweetest, most amazing Pacific oysters and Max was initiated with her first one ever. “It was actually nice,” she reportedly said, “I was worried it would be a texture violation, but it wasn’t. One was enough.” I ate no less than 7, throwing the shells over the side of the boat. “Go, make more!” I thought happily.

The job hours are long, getting up (usually) around 6, working until 9pm, talking until 12 with some breaks between meals. But the job benefits: the views, the constantly changing environment, the hilarious companions I have been so lucky to share this experience with, and finally the animals (came upon a huge rock yesterday with numerous seals, eagles and baby eagles surrounding a blood stained area) more than offset the work. In fact, most of the time, the work has been entirely fun and short of some issues with product location and storage management - I lost some produce due to rotting when I put it in a bow compartment which bore the brunt of some very unexpected hot weather - totally worthwhile.

After my work ends in the evening, Max, the boys and I head over to the other Grand Banks staff boat or up top to the flybridge, share some beers and process our days. These moments are the pinnacle of the day. Much like any intense experience, each day feels like a week and knowing someone for 3 days feels like you’ve known them your whole life.

Mango, tofu and herb salad with toasted coconut and a sweet chile-lime dressing

I was inspired to come up with this recipe from a dish I had at Malay Satay Hut, a wonderful Malaysian restaurant in the International District. It’s almost embarrassing to tell people that the sauce essentially comes out of a bottle.

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or canola oil
  • 1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup coconut, unsweetened, flaked (some reserved for garnish)
  • 1 mango, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1/2 cup basil, rough chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mint, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of cucumber, medium diced
  • 1 cup of bell peppers, any color, medium diced
  • zest of 1 lime, plus juice
  • 1 cup sweet chile sauce
  • lettuce cups or rice crackers

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1/2” by 1/2” cubes. Add to the pan and sauté until brown on all sides, sprinkling with the sea salt and soy sauce. Remove to a piece of paper towel.

In a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast the coconut until lightly brown. In a large bowl, add mango, herbs, peanuts, toasted coconut, cucumber, bell peppers, lime zest and juice and sweet chile sauce. Toss tofu into bowl and mix everything together well. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve with lettuce cups, or rice crackers (shrimp chips are also nice with this salad). If you grill some prawns, they would be extra amazing served around the edge. (In this photo, I had prepped the prawns by leaving the tail section on, skewering them into a straight line – to preserve the shape – mixing them with salt, pepper, lime zest, lime juice and canola oil.)

Sea-sickness report:
Hate to disappoint any of you but neither Max nor I, nor anyone else, has lost their lunch over the side as of yet. In fact, we are eating every 3 hours on the hour, so it might not be such a terrible thing to part with our meals. Not that I’m advocating bulemic purges but all this food with little exercise may have predictable results. I’m now patchless as the first one wore off after 3 days. Max is still taking ginger capsules which seem to work really well for her.

I’m finding that a lot of details are slipping by me so if for some strange reason you want to hear more about the actual places we are visiting and the day to day activites, you should really check out OCD at Sea, Max’s blog, as well as Buck Naked’s official Grand Banks tour blog.


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