Adventure anyone? What better way to celebrate the launch of a food blog than with fresh whole fish, a raw meat concoction and great friends? I don’t thing anything!
My loving husband decided that we needed to have a “launch party” for the birth of Mangia! Memoirs because of the hard work that went into it. I believe that to be true, but I also think he may have been looking for a good excuse to have friends over, eat some food and down some wine. Regardless, the impromptu launch party took place and let me tell you, we went on a culinary adventure joy ride!
We were thinking to go big or go home, so ended up creating food items that we had never ever made before and honestly, really had no idea how to. First up, beef carpaccio. For those not familiar with carpaccio, I’ve included a link, but it’s basically very very thinly sliced raw “something”. There are seafood carpacci, beef carpacci, vegetable carpacci – you get the point. We’ve had these many times in restaurants, but the real kick here is that it is 100% RAW and I was serving it IN MY HOME.
I’d tried to do all the gruesome meat pounding before everyone got here, in order to salvage their appetites, but I’d have to say my favorite quote of the evening from our pal Kelvin, (as I lay delicate slices of meat on a plate), was “Soooo, uhh…that was marinated like ceviche, right?” NOPE! Sorry, buddy, when I said raw, I meant RAW. I honestly got a little nervous after that point, thinking “Alisa, what the hell are you doing serving raw meat to your friends?! But the show must go on. We served up the beef carpaccio with fresh arugula and shaved parmigiano, olive oil and fresh cracked pepper. Overall, a HIT.
The “sleeper” favorite of the evening ended up being the pasta. I really just made this as a “filler-up” dish from things we had lying around. Fusilli lunghi (long spirally pasta that looks the way someone’s hair would look if they got electrocuted) pasta in a mildly spicy artichoke heart, tomato, garlic and white wine sauce.
Next up was the MAIN EVENT. I’d been wanting to cook a whole fish for sometime (just to see if I could do it), and this ended up being the perfect night for it. My husband and I went to the local fish market, Garcia’s Seafood, and purchased two jumbo red snapper and decided to follow the directions of 2 awesome ladies from Florida that demonstrated an ancient technique for baking fish. Naturally, we found this on YouTube. You can stuff the fish with any herbs you like (I chose lemon, rosemary and thyme), then pack the fish in course sea salt, creating a salt cast that develops over the fish and keeps it moist while baking. The craziest part, is that the salt becomes hard like concrete and you have to literally CRACK the mold to get the fish out. It was totally wild and so much fun! I used my grandma’s rolling pin for extra drama – thanks Gram.
- 5 stars!
- Would You Eat It Again?: Heck, yea with multiple exclamation points
- Would Would You Change? Buy more fish. For a party of 6, two fish was a bit of stretch as a main course.
Our “Mangia! Memoir” (what we’ll remember):
This was a food event worth remembering and I definitely recommend it. The fish was moist and fell right off the bone. The herbs that we had stuffed within the fish cavity infused the fish with flavor. And surprisingly, even though the fish was encased in salt, it wasn’t salty (Heads up, though – there were a few salty areas, mostly around the edges where the fish was right up against the salt cast). Since this was a new technique for everyone, the whole party was centered around seeing this come to life, which ended up being pretty darn cool.
Every one watched in anticipation as the fish was stuffed, packed in salt and then put into the oven. We then held our breath as the rolling pin smacked open the cast and inside lie the fully in tact and cooked fish. Once we slid the fish from the bones, everyone, as if on on queue, starting picking at the remnant pieces.
I mentioned that the fish cheek is supposed to be very succulent and instantly everyone started going for it! Then conversation shifted to how if you are ever stranded, you should eat fish eyes, because there is water in them. Next thing I know, people are going for the EYES!! It was like be shot back to caveman era – everyone was so primal!