The Magic Banana Tree

December 24, 2007

 tostones.jpg

Our search led us from New York to Barbados, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and finally to a small island within sight of Jost Van Dyke. After a burping puddle jumper and a cargo ferry filled with chickens and ducks, we arrived in a small skiff piloted by a scraggly rum runner that bore no resemblance to Johnny Depp.

We told Captain Jack we were newlyweds looking for a secluded beach and some fine snorkeling. He was hesitant when we showed him the little speck on the map, but was swayed by the sight of Jennifer in a see-through Gaultier 2 piece. I shook his stump goodbye and thanked him for the lift. He made gratuitous pirate sounds as he sped away leaving us on the most beautiful, white sand horseshoe I had ever seen.

The color of the water was intoxicating and we lounged for hours before our stomachs began to rumble. I pulled a lobster from below, the GPS from my pack and trekked into the jungle, clearing a path with a small machete while Jennifer lounged under a palm. The coordinates were off by a few degrees, the sweat was pouring from my brow. My Iridium rang. Jennifer was growing impatient. I tried to swat the mosquito from my cheek and saw a tiny, naked, Keira Knightley fly just above my head. She darted behind me like a humming bird. I wheeled and hung up the phone.

There, next to a thicket of bamboo, surrounded by thousands of winged Keira Knightleys stood The Tree. Branches hung low to the ground, heavy with ripe fruit. I plucked the nearest bunch and rubbed my eyes. When I opened them again, the Keira Knightleys were still naked, darting from branch to branch. I hesitated, pushed my walking cane to the right, then turned and headed back to prepare lunch.

Tostones con Guacamole Picante
Even if you don’t have a magic banana, David, these spicy little bites will excite your saronged lovely.

Los Tostones
1 green plantain, just starting to yellow.
A bowl of sea water or 4 cups of spring water and 1 Tbs sea salt
4 Tbs Vegetable Oil

Peel the plantains and cut into 1 inch pieces. Soak in sea water for 15 minutes. Remove and dry the plantains, reserving the seawater.

Heat the vegetable oil and fry the plantains on the flat sides until lightly golden. Drain on paper towels and cool.

Using a spatula or the bottom of a flat glass, smash the plantains into small coins. then soak for 2 or 3 minutes more in sea water.

Reheat the oil and fry on both sides until golden and crisp. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Guacamole Picante
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe habanero pepper, deseeded and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs red onion, minced
1 Tbs cilantro, chopped
Juice of one lime
A little olive oil
Sea salt

Mash the avocado with a fork and whip until creamy. Stir in half the minced habanero, half of the lime, and all of the remaining ingredients. Taste for salt, heat and add more habanero if she likes it spicy or if you think she’ll need the coaxing of an extra michelada or two.

Top each of the tostone coins with a dollop of guacamole and serve with a michelada while you whip up the lobster cocktail.

coctel_langosta.jpg

Coctel de Langosta
2 spiny lobster tails
12 ripe plum tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeño
1/2 small red onion
Juice of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1/2 orange
Handful of Fino Verde or cinnamon basil leaves
A little olive oil
Sea salt
1 cup white wine

Put the white wine in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the lobster tails, cover and steam until they begin to turn bright orange, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove them from the pot and cool. Cut the meat from the shell with kitchen shears. Cut the tails into bite sized pieces and refrigerate.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes are soft, but not falling apart, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the tomatoes and remove the skins. Cut in half and remove the seeds and core.

Put the tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapeño, habanero, lime and orange juice in a blender or food processor. Blend to a smooth sauce. It should be thick without being sticky. Taste for salt and lime.

Toss the lobster pieces and the basil with the cocktail sauce. Serve in hand blown glass or half a coconut shell. Pour an Albariño or a non oaked Sauvignon Blanc.

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