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It’s been a wild week over here at The Windy Poplars. Walls are down, flooring has arrived, and Chad has made approximately six trips to the dump in six days. Our friends Andy and Rachel have also been visiting from NYC and have helped tremendously. Rachel and I spent Saturday scraping wallpaper - that’s a good friend.
Given I’m not on vacation, I missed out on a fun adventure, but A + R were lucky enough to be randomly picked up while at the beach in our friend Dave’s boat for a quick ride. Andy caught seven mackerel right here in our fair waters! And although I had made pizza dough for dinner, mackerel was hastily added to the menu. Given these fish were quite literally the freshest I’ve ever eaten, I kept the prep simple. After they were cleaned, I scored each side of the fish with a paring knife, stuffed them with lemons and fistfuls of mint and cilantro and slathered them with olive and seasoned them liberally with kosher salt. We were using a hot wood-fired oven and if you do too, it took about 10 minutes. If you are doing them in an oven, I would heat it to 450 degrees and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes. They were tremendous. The mint really came through and the fish was tender and sweet.
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Mackerel is used primarily as bait fish in these areas, but I think they deserve equal billing. Chad and I ate a lot of mackerel this past spring in Europe - it’s on menus everywhere. You don’t see them as often in the US, but if you have a good fishmonger, I would ask about getting some. They are delicious. And, of course, you could prepare any whole fish similarly to the above. It’s a fun presentation. I mean look at those fishy friends! Gorgeous! Oh, and don’t worry we ate the pizza too.
Some links below to other mackerel recipes that sound delightful.
🔪 Spreading: Cento Hoagie Spread on everything. A few months back I was craving an Italian hero and coincidentally on the phone with my friend Steph who lives in Naples (Italy) via Philly. She said, “ya gotta get the hoagie spread from Cento,” so I did and I’ll never look back. It’s essentially chopped up spicy pickled peppers and THEY ARE SO GOOD. I did use them on the hero, but have since added them to tuna salad, egg salad and sometimes will take a spoonful to eat right from the jar. It’s addictively good. Rachel made a sandwich this morning with a brioche bun and just the hoagie spread. Ha!
🍽️ Dine At: Bar Kismet in Halifax! Chad and I spent the night in Halifax on the way back from Colorado. I had been wanting to dine at Bar Kismet for over a year now and we finally did. WORTH THE WAIT! I thought it would be good, but I was not prepared for just how good it was! It is primarily small plate wine bar with a focus on fish. The food was inventive and incredibly good. Standouts included Tonnato Melt on Sourdough with Chili Oil; Cod, Pommes Paillasson & Jalapeño Salsa Verde and the Sorprese Cacio e Pepe & Snap Peas. The wine list was also superb (unheard of in this province!). If you’re ever in the area, please go, but make a reservation far in advance, they are hard to come by.
☀️ Drinking: A lot of sun tea. It’s that time of year! I fill a medium-large jug (with a tight lid) with cold tap water and four bags of PG Tips and let it sit out for a few hours in direct sun. I honestly don’t know if it makes a difference in the way that it tastes, but my mom made it that way every summer when I was growing up, and I enjoy the ritual. I drink it all day with a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Oh, and here is a link to a band I had never heard of before called the Dirty Projectors singing a song called Holy Mackerel. I dig it! You never know where a newsletter will take ya! Thank you for coming on this journey with me.
That’s all for now! Have a lovely rest of your week.
Paid supporters, I’ll see you Sunday with a new recipe.