My buddies, Kris and Brian and I set up a trip to Kris' brother's property on North Peak in the mountains east of San Diego to cut firewood last weekend. Eleven years after the Cedar Fire tore through the mountains near Cuyamaca, there are still hundreds of still standing dead oak trees on this property that fall over periodically.
I spent Friday night at Kris' house in Coronado where we concocted a plan (Caper?) to cook a seafood dinner on the Mojoe Griddle when we were up on the mountain. As with most of our capers, this one quickly went out of control! We got up early and went to a small open air seafood market on the San Diego waterfront to see what they had - Bogus! Then we went to the local Mexican Mercado to pick up a few things to go with the dinner.
At 8:30am we met Brian at Catalina Offshore Products to buy some of the freshest, locally sourced seafood you can get from our favorite, all-time fishmonger, Tommy Gomes. Tommy is completely out of his mind and we love it! When we were there, Brian made some off-handed crack about the shrimp being from Bangladesh and then we immediately heard Tommy's voice bellow from behind us: "F*** NO!" Then he embarked on 5 minute rant about where his seafood comes from and how fresh it is. It was awesome and we were laughing the whole time!
Kris and I ended up plunking down $50 for some huge scallops and shrimp and a dozen oysters. Then Brian stepped up to the plate. He went crazy! He had never seen such an array of incredible seafood before. He bought more scallops, more shrimp, a nice slab of sushi grade Yellow Fin and then out of the corner of his eye he saw the workers bringing in the first crates of live spiny lobsters of the California lobster season. And he declared: "Give me two of them!" And so it shall be. Before Brian was done, he ended up spending another $175! We're really starting to loose control now!
OK, Time to head for the mountains! We were all in separate rigs and I had radio communication with Kris. We had one more important stop and that was at Ralph's (Woody's) spread on the outskirts of Ramona. Ralph accidentally left his Mojoe Griddle at the Mountain Rendezvous a few weeks ago (maybe because he was the first one out of there on Sunday morning!) so the plan was to drop it off, say hi and keep on truckin'. Wrong!
Ralph has an amazing (and very large) property with horses, a large pond with ducks, orange grove, a huge steel shop building and, oh yeah, a nice house. He also has a lovely and wonderful wife, Carole. Ralph took us on a tour of the property in a four seater electric golf cart like thingy. At our first stop, Ralph's off-road driving skills became apparent when he buried the cart in the soft dirt next to the road and had to go get his big gasoline powered quad to pull the cart out!
It turns out that Ralph leases some of the property to a local grower who plants several acres with all sorts of delicacies. Remember the chilies we cooked at the MRV? This is where they came from! We spent about an hour picking fresh veggies and squash during the tour. We collected about ten different varieties of squash, five varieties of chillies, tomatoes, tomatillos, watermelon, red onions, oranges and figs. We made off with about 40 pounds of produce! (More loss of control!) Many thanks to Ralph and his wife for his incredible hospitality!
OK, onward to the mountains! I got to thinking about what we could do with the figs we had just picked at Ralph's place. Appetizer maybe? The synapses fired in a crazy mass of confusion! Then I remembered that Ralph had given us a bunch of freshly sliced prosciutto and it jelled into a new mission: Grilled prosciutto wrapped figs stuffed with crumbled blue cheese, diced roasted Anaheim chillies, and grilled shrimp! Holly S***! I don't have any blue cheese! We were just approaching Santa Isabelle so I radioed Kris to pull over at the market next to Dudley's Bakery. Problem solved. We also picked up a couple of loaves over at the bakery. Things are really starting to wobble now!
We finally reached our destination on North Peak at about 3:00. Daylight was burning fast! There was a Santa Ana going on so we could see all the way to Point Loma and the ocean. Great backdrop for a Mojoe video! There was an immediate beehive of activity setting up the "Set" and prepping the seafood and veggies for the big cook. Kris and Brian seemed to know exactly what needed to be done (They should - we've been camping together for over 35 years!) I finally started cooking at about 5:00. The sun is on its final approach to the sea. So much to do and so little time!
OK. If you have gotten this far and aren't bored yet it's time for some pictures. The video we took is now being edited by my son and should be posted in a few days. We had all of the foods we were attempting to cook laid out on the table next to the Mojoe Griddle on a Camp Chef stove - a very daunting task indeed was just ahead. Total loss of control! Are we out of our minds?!!!
After an insane meal we all went to sleep because we had to get up early and start dicing up fallen oaks with a chain saw.