Market Forays with Laurence Hauben
The Big Fish Party

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Well, call me an impulse shopper if you will, but Saturday morning I went to the Fishermen’s Market to purchase 2 crabs ($7.50 for both)
and could not resist the appeal of a whole white seabass, twenty five pounds of deliciousness at a mere $2/lb.
Of course, the only thing to do with such a giant fish is to share it with friends, so here was my plan:
Invite all my friends to join me Sunday afternoon from 4:00 pm for an informal party/potluck at my house.
Dig a fire pit in the backyard (I don’t have a grill large enough for a three foot long bass),
stuff the fish with fennel and lemon, rub it with garlic, olive oil, fennel seeds, salt and pepper, then wrap it first in banana leaves then in foil,
and cook it in the embers, unless someone has a large grate to bring over, in which case we will grill it.

Friends can bring: side dishes, bread, salads, ice cream, plates, utensils, wine, folding chairs, etc…

How spontaneous can you be?
Well, about twenty five friends came . . .


I have been in the midst of redoing the back of my garden, and right now it is mostly bare dirt, so I dug a fire pit and lined it with bricks that I had laying around. Meanwhile, my daughter Julia – always a good sport even when she thinks I have lost my mind - gathered oak wood
from the canyon across the street and made breakfast for the two of us.
The digging went well, breakfast was excellent, and by noon I had my fire all laid out and ready in the brand new fire pit.

Encouraged by my success, I continued gardening, got all splattered with dirt when a garden hose sprang a hernia and exploded in my face,
fixed the hose, transplanted some agapanthus and a baby fig tree that had sprouted underneath the olive, and then drove up to
Mountain Drive to harvest banana leaves. Julia helped me set out garden tables and made country bouquets.

Around three, I got cleaned up so I wouldn’t frighten my guests, lit the fire, which immediately spurred a concerned call from my neighbor –
we are all a bit nervous here in the hills. I reassured him – I had a hose laid out ready to put out flares, and invited him to join the party.
He couldn’t but he graciously offered the loan of a large grate to support the Big Fish.

Speaking of the Big Fish, I pulled him out of the fridge, laid him on my wooden counter, and set about seasoning him and wrapping him in
banana leaves and aluminum foil. It actually didn’t take very long at all, and went very smoothly.

Friends began arriving around four, bearing bottles of wine, salads, desserts, breads, beer, ice cream, and beautiful babies.

At four thirty, the fire was steady but no longer sending high flames. I carried the fish to the grill and set it to cook, helped by
Dennis, a visitor from New Zealand. After about thirty minutes we turned it over, or rather, we rolled it.
Another thirty five minutes, and it was done. Dan and Thomas held a long board at the same height as the grill and
Dennis and I pushed the Big Fish onto it.

We unwrapped the giant package, doused the fish with Pastis, and tried to set it aflame, but the liquor didn’t cooperate.
Still, I am happy to report that the fish was cooked to perfection, as certified by star chef Remi Lauvand, who came to the party
and regaled us with a bottle of white Graves and with tales of the French restaurant “mafia” in New York and Los Angeles.
Renato and Lisa had brought a delicious arugula salad, Edie and Cat a great tomato salad, Nancy and Dave baked
wonderful macaroons and focaccia, Thomas and Carrie had made garlic bread, Dennis made cheesecake,
Eve and William brought beer and ice cream.

We sat under the pepper tree, folks had seconds, happy dogs hung around for scraps, and generally had a fabulous time.
Since we had used paper plates dishwashing was kept to a minimum.
Everyone helped put stuff away, even Renato and Lisa’s young son Dario, who helped me carry a heavy table back to the garage.
The waxing full moon was climbing above the tree line as friends left.

Market Forays is the perfect gift for :
New Santa Barbara residents
Visitors who wish to experience the heart of the Santa Barbara lifestyle
Groups of friends
Corporate team building

 To reserve your space for or to arrange a private Foray just for your group,
please call Laurence Hauben at (805)259-7229, or e-mail Laurence