After an incredible, jam-packed month at home/in London/up North, it was time to return back to the boat. By a huge stroke of luck, they made their way from the Caribbean to the USA without me onboard. Supposedly it was calm plain sailing, but missing any journey over moving waters is great news for me, considering I’m possibly the queasiest traveller ever to be born. Decked out in my warmest clothes, I made the trip from Jersey to Gatwick, Gatwick to Heathrow, Heathrow to Miami.
Changing my seat on the 10 hour BA flight to the emptier upstairs level of the plane was the best decision I’ve ever made. There was a row of four empty seats entirely for me. So despite it being a daytime flight, I hunkered down and lay horizontally, just because I could.
Arrival into Miami was utterly dreadful in every which way. We arrived a few hours late, and the immigration queue took two hours. Two whole hours! I had been warned of Miami airport’s shortcomings, but I didn’t think it would be quite that bad. About ten flights appeared to have simultaneously come in from Mexico, holding what looked like hundreds of single young men, all standing at five foot tall.
Expecting the boat to have organised a pickup for me was a big oversight. There was no one. Uber pool answered my prayers, but have you any idea how difficult it is to identify a car by its number plate in America? The front of the car is devoid of any identification. You have to awkwardly peer behind the car to confirm that it is, in fact, your Uber, which makes no sense, as by that time the vehicle in question is already moving away from you. Nightmare.
Eventually I arrived, more or less in one piece, to Miami Beach marina, only to be told immediately on arrival that my covering crew chef’s food was waaay better than mine. Well, what a happy welcome back that was. After five minutes of sulking (more like a few hours/overnight), I resolved to buck up and just work harder, to bring my food up to her standard. There are always going to be people in the world who are better than you. It’s perhaps not so nice to be reminded of the fact straight after a lovely month away, when you have missed everyone and are eager to get back in the kitchen. But anyway.
Onto the food!
For the carnivores, lamb rump cooked in lashings of butter, rosemary & garlic.
Gizzi Erskine’s slow cooked pork carnitas with pink pickled onions. Pinkled onions?
Tuna tataki with crispy ginger & garlic, in a soy & yuzu dressing.
Grilled pineapple salsa. Grilling the pineapple was admittedly an extra faff, but gave it so much flavour and took away the painful sensation that some get when eating the fruit raw. It may well be a necessary step from now on in my Mexican repertoire.
NOPI’s burnt spring onion dip with garlic & chilli kale. Not worth the effort of burning the spring onions in my opinion, they just became stringy and difficult to cut and incorporate into the dip.
Crushed potatoes with capers, pink peppercorns & roasted garlic. Crisp, salty, pillowy soft in the middle, a recipe to definitely make again.
Asparagus with romesco sauce. I’m enjoying the whole putting the sauce on the bottom of the plate thing at the moment. It’s admittedly a bit trickier to serve up as part of a buffet, as the sauce is welded to the bottom, but it is more aesthetically pleasing than having it blobbed over the top, covering the vegetables.
Simple Caprese salad with basil pesto.
Caramelised balsamic pear & lentil salad, adapted from Honestly Healthy. Those pears! Quite a few of them didn’t make it on top of the final salad.
Nectarine, burrata & walnut salad, with the best ever broccoli dish in the world behind it. Even if you are not a fan of broccoli, I implore you to make this dish, and you will be its No.1 fan by the end.
Continuing my theme of pushing the boat out, we have (slightly rustic/informal) homemade pasta, to go with a slow cooked beef ragu. Making pasta creates such a mess, it’s ungodly. Days later, I’m still coming across smatterings of flour around the galley.
Lemon curd macarons. We have a new piece of equipment to play with, a Thermomix, that you can practically make anything in. Next door, (the two boats are side by side whilst the owners move their belongings across) Michael’s been using it left right and centre to make crew food, as you can cook pasta in one section, steam fish in another and make a sauce somewhere else. So far, I’ve used it to make a lovely lemon curd, and a pretty good mushroom risotto. Anything that requires you to stand and stir for any amount of time (custard, choux pastry, bechamel, hollandaise sauce), you can make in the Thermomix by bunging the ingredients in, setting the timer and walking away. The head chefs say it is like having your own sous chef in the kitchen with you. That sounds suspiciously like I will soon be out of a job.
Am I the only one who enjoys lemon curd on toast? With all the rest that was leftover and not being eaten, I whipped up a lemon meringue pie. Please excuse the slightly over-whipped meringue, but I didn’t mention my faux-pas to anybody, and nobody seemed to notice or comment. Thank goodness the flavour prevailed!
More technically successful cookies. Chewy around the edges but soft and squidgy in the middle, studded with caramel and chocolate chips.
Now that we’re in the states, we all have one day off per week. My hours are still 8-5, and on my day off I must have prepared food for the head chef to bung in the oven and finish, so an example would be lasagne & garlic bread with a couple of salads. All the other crew are working shifts, so may be on early, day or lates. Having always loved shift work, I am superbly jealous. Especially as they orchestrate working an early shift before the day off, meaning they get the evening off, plus a full day, plus the following morning. Am I bitter? Nope, not bitter at all.
Rant over, Miami is truly shaping up to be quite spectacular. We reside in South Beach, the home of perfectly circular plastic boobs and bum implants. I think every other person living here must be a plastic surgeon. My first purchase was a two wheeled beauty of a bicycle, along with a star studded galaxy designed helmet. Law in Miami doesn’t even require motorcyclists to wear helmets, so you can imagine how much of a donut I look toddling around on a pushbike with all the headgear. But when it comes to my (lack of) sense of direction and general self-awareness, I seriously cannot be too careful.