Sunday, February 1, 2009

Slow food stone crab picnic

Upon consideration I find that I haven't got a whole lot to say about the picnic (and upon checking I find I didn't have a lot last year either), so this is mainly going to be a photo essay.

Last year this was a solo Slow Food effort, but this year they partnered with Friends of the Everglades. Stone crabs don't live in swamps so I suppose it was more a marriage of convenience than anything else. I wish they had gone more thematic and had an alligator and nutria dinner or some-such. Instead we got a speech I couldn't follow and there were some mixed drinks that never showed up. I suspect the latter difficulty stems from a distinction in city parks between b.y.o.b. and supplying drinks to folks who paid for lunch. One of the silly-looking segway cops must have stopped by and put a stop to things.

But still, we got a nice lunch. The stone crab was supplied by Judy the Stone Crab Lady and her lovely assistant whose name I rudely neglected to inquire after.

They prepare the claws with this nut-cracker-esque device and dole them out in 1-pound bags. It's a rather slow process so the line-up at their table backed up quite a ways. They didn't get as much of a head-start on the cracking this year than last when the line stayed mainly under control despite a greater turn-out.

Here's my bag along with my demolition tools. They did a pretty thorough cracking job so I didn't need to use them much. As usual, the crab is tender and sweet and very reasonably priced at their booth.

Here's the menu of sidedishes from Mise en Place...

along with my plateful. I think the sides were a nice step up from last year. In the one-on-one comparison of cole slaws, Mise's offering was substantially better because they bothered to purge their cabbage so it wasn't a stack of stiff, crunchy sticks.

I also quite liked the unbilled sweet avocado/radish/onion relish on the right side of the plate by the empanadas.

The shell of the empanadas had a good soft chew to them, but it's always a disappointment to bite into an empanada and not find meat inside. Or maybe that's just me.

In the back you can see that I brought along a few dipping sauces to try out with the stone crabs. Judy supplies the traditional mustard sauce, which really is quite good, but I found that avocado mayonnaise (with a judicious addition of vinegar-based hot sauce) was at least its equal. Try it and see for yourself.

Some time into the meal, Dona Reno got up and gave her usual intro to Slow Food speech. The AV equipment was cleverly adjusted to simulate the sound of announcements made in the next room over. I think the folks in the middle tables could hear her if they concentrated, but I was over at the edge near the playing children so I couldn't quite get it all. There was something about the Slow Food at schools program too, I think.

Then this guy, who the program says is Alan Fargo, talked a while about Marjory Stoneman Douglas. I know that she was an early supporter of Everglade preservation but I didn't catch why he was talking about her here and now. Aparently she liked Manhattans so we were supposed to toast her with them, but, as I said, although I watched them being poured they had vanished when the time came.

That's about it really. I finished my lunch and went home before my CSA share started to rot. I'll try to be a better reporter at the next event.

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