June 6, 2008


While I wouldn't call us epicureans or gourmands by any stretch, co-captain Dave and I do enjoy the hunting/gathering, preparation, and execution of a good meal. Seven months out of the year we accomplish this in a perfectly serviceable kitchen with a big sunny window on the 11th floor of one of Chicago's many nondescript condo towers. But during the short, sweet Chicago summer months, we get to do it here:

Smitten's galley, in the hands of the impatient or disorganized, is a potential torture chamber of frustration. Picture the absolute minimum amount of counter space you think you'd need to prepare a meal. Divide by half. Divide by half again. Now you've got a sense of Smitty's galley counter space.

Complicate this with the fact that our counter space is mostly comprised of the trap door to the cooler well, and you see the set-up for cooking scenarios that are seasoned with aural flavors like "tsk!" "doh!" "argh!" and the all-purpose "%&^*$(@%#!". We do a lot of senseless shifting of ingredients and utensils to and fro if we haven't properly planned the meal prep and paid full respect to our mise en place.

That's a cooking term I just threw in, not a sailing term, so if you need a definition, look here, not here.

The galley also boasts a single utensil drawer that's jammed with those pointless implements that seduce me whenever I walk into a Sur la Table, and a two-burner propane stove with a pretty good-sized oven. Plus the aforementioned cooler that eats ice like a self-conscious teenager on a six pack of Red Bull.

When the stars align, we can put together a pretty respectable meal. On Memorial Day weekend, Chef Dave started by roasting a luvly green mix of chopped broccoli and spinach, tossed with rough-chopped garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper:

Then he laid two wild-caught turbot fillets I'd found at the Dominick's on top, slid it back into the oven, et viola! 25 minutes later (propane, slow...) we had this:

He threw on a little chiffanade of cilantro, squeezed on a half a lime, and it was good, reader. Damn good.

Smitty's little galley, if nothing else, drives home the point that good cooking usually equals simple cooking, which is about all we can accomplish onboard. So we "simple-down" our favorite recipes to their bare necessities to accommodate the limitations of the boat, then find ourselves turning to these simpler versions the remainder of the year when we're pressed for time on busy winter days.

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