It’s amazing what Vitamin D and civilization will do for a girl. While there are many things I love about Coos Bay, the Southern California sun and, yes, a Starbucks on every corner, does add to an already wonderful vacation.
We started off with a night camping in Napa. It was a beautiful campsite with a view of Clear Lake and vineyards off in the distance. Sig showed his guard-dog nature lowly growling at the nearby treacherous wildlife (most likely a squirrel, chipmunk, or maybe a frog). Dinner consisted of a rack of lamb, quinoa, and sautéed kale with fennel and scallions all cooked over a Coleman stove.
Overboard, yes. Ridiculous, slightly, but – and here comes the whiney voice – I kind of had a high bar to meet hearing my Eagle Scout husband’s campfire cooking stories of bacon-wrapped game hens and baked beans cooked in a hollowed out pineapple. To quote my mom, “Where were the hotdogs?!”
After a grueling 111-degree drive through the central valley I-5 corridor, we arrived at my parents’ house for a long, and well-needed vacation.
We partook in a fabulous birthday jaunt to Hollywood to celebrate in style, including personalized fusion drinks at the Library Bar, and antique bowling next to Zach Braff and Donald Faison (yes, I just name-dropped). I ate lamb belly for the first time; it had the soft, buttery texture of braised pork belly with the lamb grassiness that is so unique yet specific. It was fantastic paired with couscous, but was certainly trumped by chatting with Zach Braff (yep, did it again). The next day we drove through Rodeo Drive, but for Rob’s fear of immediate bankruptcy, we didn’t stop, and then spent the rest of the day lazily lying around from having stayed up late partying with Zach Braff (third time’s the charm). The weekend ended with homemade birthday rib-eye steaks, Mom’s grilled onions, and scalloped potatoes, all favorites in the Tamminen and O’Donnell household.
After such a crazy school year, right now, I am mostly enjoying long walks around the lake with Sig, casually sitting on the kitchen counters chatting with Mom, reconnecting with great friends, and comfortably wearing tank tops. My mom and I have taken turns cooking, and I think we make a great team. The heat has lent to lighter dishes, such as seared Ahi, tortellini salad, and one of which I’ve included below. You can’t come to California without eating a fish taco, and I’ve tried my hand at many versions, never really getting it perfectly right. The SoCal inspiration worked – I think I did it this time. You be the judge.
There’s still another week left in my vacation; I’m sure there’s more relaxing times, and more delicious dishes to come. I’m off to work on my tan with a Starbucks in hand! Happy summer!
Halibut Tacos (serves 4-6)…. sorry, in all the cooking fun I forgot to take a picture. But I promise it still tastes amazing!
- 2 lbs fresh Halibut (1/8-1/4 lb for each taco)
- 1 head green cabbage, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp good mayo
- juice 2 limes
- about 1 tsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp Agave
- sprinkle of cinnamon
- few tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine
- few dashes of Tabasco sauce
- Corn or flour tortillas (or both!)
- Extra limes and cilantro for garnish
To cook the halibut, heat the grill to med-high heat. Put the halibut on aluminum foil, and prepare with a few tablespoons of olive oil (because halibut can dry out), juice of 1 lime, the white whine, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, a few springs of cilantro (no need to chop them) and s&p.
Fold over the sides of the aluminum to make a vented pouch for the fish. Put on the grill – no need to flip – until just cooked (fish should flake easily, but still show shininess and moisture), about 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the aioli sauce. Mix the mayo, juice of 1 lime, garlic, cilantro, paprika, and s&p to taste. Make sure the mixture combines smoothly, and remember, the longer it sits, the better it tastes.
If you wish, heat up the tortillas in the oven.
When the fish is done, slice it into chunks that easily fit in the tortilla, about 1 inch by 4 inches. Put a healthy shmear of the sauce on the tortilla, then place the fish on the sauce. Top with the cabbage, and a tiny sprinkling of cinnamon (it is AMAZING what the cinnamon adds to this dish – may sound strange, but trust me, it’s fantastic). Garnish with whole cilantro leaves, and lime wedges.
Enjoy with margaritas!!!
If anyone wants a the lamb-dish recipe, just let me know… it’s a rough recipe (meaning not precise due to camping circumstances), but it, too, was very tasty. Maybe even better than a hot dog. 🙂