Party Hearty

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This Sunday, it’s all about First Night Montclair. Check out who’s performing and when the festivities begin, right here.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Located in the center of Montclair’s First Night festivities, Church Street restaurant will be a hubbub of activity on New Year’s Eve. The kitchen will be open all night until the wee hours featuring Chef Barry’s New Year’s Dinner Specials as well as all of the favorites from his dinner menu. Midnight Brunch after the Fireworks will feature Truffled Butter Poached Lobster & Chanterelle Eggs Benedict as well as lighter fare, entrées, homemade desserts and more.
    Church Street is also an official First Night venue with early shows upstairs by Montclair’s own Black Lace Blues and late shows by international jazz violin star Lorenzo LeRoc. First night badges are required for the musical performances. The main dining room is open to all.
    On Monday, New Year’s Day, Church Street will be open for Brunch and Dinner.
    For information and reservations call: 973-233-0216

  2. Both shows at Church Street, Black Lace Blues ( with the famous Bruce T. on drums) and Lorenzo LeRoc ( saw him play at last years First Night, he was great ), will send you into 2007 with a musical vibe that will last a long time.
    And Chef Barry, well, he does his own show, and he rocks too.
    See you after the parade at Church Street… Greg & Cheryl are also worth seeing.
    Happy New Year
    Wayne Robbins

  3. Y’all can go out and party if you want. Me, I’ll be at the stove in another labor of love. You all know the Maine shrimp, right? You may have noticed the little guys at Whole Foods over the past few weeks. I’ve written up my approach to them for a forthcoming cookbook, and thought I’d share it here in case anyone else is similarly inclined. Enjoy!
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    This simple recipe is designed to highlight the flavor of fresh Maine shrimp. They are a seasonal rarity and a definite delicacy; like the other crustaceans for which Maine is better known, they have a unique sweetness and depth of flavor. Whether this is due to those cold North Atlantic waters, or the shrimps’ particular food supply out there down east, I can’t say, but they are worth seeking out at the right time of year.
    The shrimp season in Maine generally runs from December to April. It has expanded in recent years and the volume of the catch has grown steadily after a near-collapse of the shrimp fishery in the early 1990s. Sadly, many people lost their appreciation for Maine shrimp during those years when the fishery was closed and recovering; last year the shrimp boats were bringing in more than the market could handle and it ended in a fizzle. Hopefully this 2006-2007 season will finish on a better note.
    Maine shrimp are small, running around 50 per lb. with heads on, or 75 headless as they are usually sold outside of Maine. They always stand out at the fish counter since they are a bright pink even when raw. They have a wonderful glistening translucency when they’re fresh.
    Shelling these little guys can be a bit of work, I grant you, but you’ll find two big incentives to keep you motivated: they’re literally half the price of other fresh shrimp, and there’s that incomparable flavor awaiting you at the end.
    (You may also want to consider the facts that, in buying Maine shrimp, you’re getting a superior wild-caught product and supporting a completely domestic industry. Most other fresh shrimp, unless you live near the Gulf Coast, are farmed products flown over from Thailand.)
    On to the food! Ingredients for two servings:
    ¾ lb fresh Maine shrimp
    ½ lb linguini
    1 tsp fresh or pinch of dried thyme
    ½ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
    1 lemon
    1 clove garlic
    light olive oil (or other neutral-flavored oil) for sauteeing
    You will need a large skillet, since the dish finishes with the addition of the pasta to the pan in which you’ve sauteed the shrimp. You’ll also need a big pot for the pasta, of course; you can set the water to boil before you begin rest of the preparations.
    Shell the shrimp. This may take a bit of practice. I use a paring knife to slit the underside of the shell, starting from the head end. A quick squeeze of the tail end pops off that section of the shell, and the remaining section then peels off easily, leaving you with a nice whole shrimp. I throw the peeled shrimp into one bowl and the shells into another. You can make a tasty stock from the shells after dinner if you’re industrious.
    Have the thyme on a little plate or bowl ready to add to the pan. Pull the parsley leaves off the sprigs & have them ready. Squeeze the lemon into a bowl or glass and keep the juice at hand. Peel the garlic clove.
    Timing is the key to this dish; the shrimp will cook very quickly, in no more than 2 minutes on most stoves. You don’t want to overcook them or they will turn rubbery and lose flavor.
    You’ll probably want to have the pasta water boiling, add the linguini and let it cook for a couple of minutes before you begin sauteeing the shrimp. You can even prepare the linguini and set it aside before you start the shrimp, though you run the risk of having the pasta lose heat and clump together if you let it sit too long.
    Add the linguini to the boiling water. Let it cook 60 to 90 seconds less than the recommended time, since it will finish cooking in the shrimp pan. When that time has elapsed, toss a cup or two of cold water into the linguini pot to stop it cooking, drain the pasta and reserve.
    As the linguini cooks, crush or mince the garlic clove as you prefer. Add enough oil to the pan to coat the bottom; heat oil on a medium setting until it swirls clearly. Add the garlic and stir for around 30 seconds, until it begins to release its flavor. You don’t want to brown or burn the garlic, or that taste will dominate the dish.
    Add the shrimp to the pan and continue stirring; sprinkle them with the thyme while they cook. Keep a close eye on the shrimp; they will firm up and turn white very quickly, likely in less than 2 minutes as noted.
    Keep stirring and add the lemon juice as soon as the shrimp are firm. After another 5-10 seconds, as soon as the lemon juice begins to steam, add the linguini to the pan and stir. Add the parsley and continue to stir and toss until everything is well blended. You can turn off the heat about 30 seconds into the final stir if the ingredients aren’t well mixed at that point.
    Transfer the mixture to two warmed pasta bowls and you’re done. I don’t add cheese to this particular dish because I find that it interferes with the delicate flavors here, but you could try a light sprinkle of good freshly grated parmigiano if you like.
    You can vary this dish by using different herbs – marjoram, rosemary, oregano, an Herbes De Provence blend. My only advice is to add herbs with a light hand and not overwhelm the shrimp.
    A note on salt: since I’m on a low-sodium diet, I purposefully haven’t included any salt in the list of ingredients. I find that the sea salts already in the shrimp are sufficient to balance the dish to my taste. Most folks boil their pasta in salted water, and there’d be nothing wrong with adding a pinch of salt to the pan after the lemon juice heats if that’s the way your taste runs. There are never any hard and fast rules to cooking; the important thing is to tweak the ingredients until the dish tastes good to you.

  4. I always serve this with a salad, & maybe a side veggie dish as well. Don’t wanna mess too much with the flavor of those shrimp in the main attraction.
    I’ve done a version of this with fresh tomato & a little onion a few times, though, & it’s pretty good too.

  5. The opening parade was one of the best I’ve seen in many years…a great turn out too.
    Look for some highlights on my cable show next week…
    and, some very cool music as well from other performances.
    Wayne Robbins

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