Gooseneck barnacles are so ugly it’s hard to think of them as food. We’ve heard that in Spain and Portugal, percebes can cost up to $200 per kilo at restaurants. If people are spending that much to have them with a glass of Sherry, they must be pretty special.
On a recent trip to the far side of Vancouver Island we spotted some on the rocks at low tide and took the opportunity to see what the fuss was all about.
A very low tide gave access to rocks that are usually out of reach.
Gooseneck barnacles compete with the mussels for space.
Because they are filter feeders, they prefer turbulent waters. The biggest ones grow on the far, ocean-facing side of the rocks.
The big Pacific waves help the muscle grow fat and long.
A sampling of seafood from the rocks.
Hard to believe that inside these dinosaur-like heads and leathery bodies hides incredibly tender flesh with a flavour something like shrimp crossed with scallops.
Kamala clapped her hands loudly, so that the golden bangles tinkled. “Your poetry is very good, brown Samana, and truly there is nothing to lose if I give you a kiss for it.” She drew him to her with her eyes. He put his face against hers, placed his lips against hers, which were like a freshly cut fig.”
This passage alwayscomes to mind when Vancouver’s fig trees are heavy with fat fruit in the hot weeks of August. But the simile “like a freshly cut fig ” did not conjure up a very desirable image when I read the passage for the first time as a teenager. At that point I was only familiar with dried, wrinkled brown figs that came threaded onto a loop of straw. It was decades before I first met up with the luscious red interior of a fresh one and finally understood.
We like to poach these summer treats with ginger and cardamom and serve with a scoop of ice cream, or slice thickly for a pizza topping.
This year Aya made some wonderful tarts (click any image to see larger photos):
Fresh, fat figs.
Slices soaking in lemon-cardamom syrup.
Slices assembled atop a bed of almond filling and pastry.
Ready for the oven.
Caramelized fig almond tart, with lemon and cardamom.
From Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four big islands, we took a ferry out to the small chain of islands called Goto for a week of camping. You may remember it from the Kamigoto surfing post a while ago.
Driving onto car ferries is one of our favourite parts of travel. It’s as close as we’ll get in our lifetime to putting a little private flying ship inside a giant interplanetary craft and taking a trip across the stars to explore other worlds.
Sasebo is a busy Naval port, and we saw many unusual ships on the way out of port. (Click on the gallery below to see larger images).
Sailors on deck of a Japanese Navy ship.
Japanese Navy ships.
Leaving Sasebo port, with many Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier.
Bizarre ship we passed on the way out of Sasebo.
Small Navy cutter on the way out of Sasebo.
One of the US Navy patrol boats showed off their speed and maneuverability by catching air from the ferry’s big wake.
Looked like a lot of fun. Note the big machine gun on the bow!
Goto Islands appeared out of grey, rainy skies.
The local weather was actually quite lovely, changing frequently.
We followed whatever road seemed interesting, often ending up in situations that were unexpected.
Eventually we found our way back to the coastal roads and went looking for a seafood snack. Click through to see what we found.
October rains bring forth the mushrooms on the Pacific Coast, including the Boletus edulis. Known in France as cep and in Italy as porcini, it is treasured for its intense aroma and flavourful, meaty flesh.
Click through to see finding, weighing and cooking these delicious “little piglets”.