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Shaking off the dust while waiting for spring to spring

By Paul Suplee

The question remains, is spring ever going to come? We all know that it is, but we are in that two to three-week window where everyone is tired of the cold and just waiting for some good news from the weatherman. Of course, waiting on reliable, good news from the weatherman is about as perfect as getting an ounce of truth out of a politician.

I personally like this time of year for a couple of reasons. First, it does remind me of the changing of the seasons, something that I missed when I lived in California (I’ve gone on about that many times before). Second, it is a sign that the school year is coming to a close; that I am now to get ready for the summer and for the upcoming school year. It’s all in the preparation, as we teachers and chefs like to say.

As the season changes, so does my spirit as I dust off the boat for sea trial and get rid of these shoes in preparation of months of bare feet. Even as a kid, my parents had a difficult time keeping shoes on my feet. Whether it was fishing off Dock 2 in Ulmstead Estates, boating on the Chesapeake, or riding my BMX bike over ramps and through 20-foot ditch jumps, you would rarely see anything on my paws except dirt and some fairly admirable callouses. Good habits die hard, I guess.

In anticipation of the upcoming warmer weather, I have to plan out when I’m going to repaint the tiki bar, powerwash the impressive levels of moss in the shingles, hang a few new decorations and basically just get my own yard ready. Yes, I have to prepare for the rest and relaxation that I know I will need to recuperate from the busy season at the restaurant. And, oh boy, will I need a restful, peaceful place to chill.

There is never a dull moment when you run a restaurant and I can assure you that now is the most difficult time to own one. With the rising minimum wage, the fate of smaller mom and pop joints lies in the hand of our state government, it seems. Pretty soon hamburgers are going to cost $15 and I will have to sell three of these per hour just to pay a dishwasher. It is going to be interesting, to be sure. But, I digress.

More importantly, I need to focus on gearing up for the hot months. Mulch has to be laid in the flowerbeds; something that did not happen last year because of opening the restaurant. Clearing the remaining banana trees, rotted and laying on the ground, will make way for the new batch that will be popping up in the next month or so.

Cleaning the cobwebs off the grill is another good thing to do, as that will be home to many a steak, lobster and peri-peri chicken dinners. If you’ve never had the latter, rest assured it is simple, but a fantastic addition to your arsenal. A traditional Portuguese chicken, grilled with crispy skin after a long bath in a simple marinade, it only gets better when you pair it with your favorite hot sauce.

There is a chain of peri-peri restaurants on the other side of the bay and it is a great little fast, casual place. With a bottle of your favorite beer, some mashed peas and some hot, grilled corn, it makes just about the best summertime meal around.

Earlier I mentioned hot sauces and, if you haven’t tried Hank Sauce, make sure that you go out of your way to get some. It is sold locally at Malibu’s surf shop and Gilbert’s Provisions. The sauce is out of New Jersey and I haven’t had one yet that disappoints. I would love to know the secrets in the making of this elixir, but suffice it to say that it is just about the perfect hot sauce out there. I douse everything in it, including pizza, chicken, barbecue anything, fries, et al.

And as I know spring is just around the corner, I have my chicken marinating and am going to grill some off tonight. It’s all in the preparation.

Peri-Peri Chicken
serves 4

1 whole chicken
1 quart Peri-peri sauce (recipe follows)
1/4 cup Fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup Fresh basil, minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Cut the chicken into eight pieces. If you’re lazy, simply buy bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces at the market
  2. Setting aside about 1/2 cup of the sauce and marinate the chicken in the remaining sauce overnight
  3. When ready to go, heat a grill and cook the chicken until it reaches the proper internal temperature. Make sure to monitor the grill to keep it from charring too much
  4. Baste with the reserved sauce and pour remaining bit on the bird when you pull it off of the grill
  5. Serve with peas, grilled street corn and a sweet and zesty slaw


Peri-Peri Sauce
makes about 1 quart

1 cup Champagne vinegar
1/2 medium white onion, large chop
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup EV Olive oil
1/4 cup Hank Sauce (your choice)
2 Jalapenos, seeded
5 cloves fresh garlic
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and rip it up until smooth
  2. Keep refrigerated until ready to use