Saturday, May 27

What dish to pair with wildlife sightings?

Matching the right wine with the right food is the subject of numerous books and esoteric conversations. But what food does one pair with the most amazing wildlife sightings? What wine holds up to drop-dead gorgeous scenery? I’m pretty sure that what the boys over on Sea Gate are eating can’t possibly suffice. Last time I checked they were still working their way through a Costco-sized bag of garlic bagel chips and potato salad. Last night I heard Larry “the last liberal from Texas” Crouch mention pulverizing the bagel chips and crusting some fish with it. I’m thinking that should use up at least 1/18th of the bag.

We’re anchored in Khutze Inlet, B.C., one of the most beautiful places I’ve had the privilege to see my whole life. Buck, Max and I spent as much time as we could watching the view off the bow before we froze to death. It was a complete 360-degree panoramic, each angle more stunning than the next. It felt as if, at any moment, the director would storm by and the scenery would roll past and we would realize we were on a Hollywood back lot. Surely we’re the extras in this movie. The star? That big brown bear eating grass stage left. (Not kidding!) The stunt man? That eagle swooping overhead – apparently there’s no shortage of stuntmen in this region; eagles are the Inside Passage’s local pigeon. The stage crew? Those slick seals popping their heads up all around us.

Which way to turn? There are waterfalls in front of us, grassy marsh with bear to our left, seals and white-capped mountains behind us, and all our twinkling boats to the right.

Indeed, what kind of dinner could one possibly prepare to pair with all this beauty?

Certainly something more inspiring than bagel chips. Sorry Larry.

I thought about what the bear might like: salmon, honey, berries, greens. And then I thought about what I have left on the boat, it being the mid-way point on the trip and my produce supply has dwindled down to a mere shadow of its former self. I decided to make one of my signature dishes. A tribute to this beauty should be matched by a meal that I would be proud to put my name behind. In fact, a meal I have recently taught in several classes around the Seattle area.

The salmon was roasted in a low oven with just a simple cloak of olive oil, salt and pepper. Thyme leaves were scattered generously under and on top of the fish. Red wine was reduced in a saute pan with stock, fennel seeds, thyme, honey, pepper and shallots. Fennel bulb, potato and red onion were sliced, slicked with olive oil, seasoned and roasted. The wine reduction was strained and mounted with butter and the meal was served with bruschetta and flowing wine and finished with a lovely cinnamon ice cream (thanks Dana B for the recipe). A meal fit for a bear and a fitting tribute to this lovely place.

I thought this was a job?

Then how come right before lunch today I was sitting in a volcanic hot spring paddling around with everyone else, the sun shining, a light breeze rustling the tree tops?

Seamanship report:

Yesterday J.C. taught me how to tie a bowline knot. Strangely, bowline, from what I would assume is "bow" "line" is pronounced as if you were saying, wanna go "bowlin"? I also learned last night that 3 out of 3 skippers asked say that the bowline is "the most important knot in sailing". I feel quite prepared now. The only problem is remembering how to do it. There was something about a rabbit and a rabbit hole and a fox. The most important thing I learned though was that you actually have to tie the knot to something. I stood back, all proud of my perfect bowline knot, and J.C. pointed out that it was great but I actually hadn't tied the dinghy up to the rail. It seems that "the most important knot in sailing" actually needs to be tied to something to work.


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