On tonight’s Cooking Channel episode of “Chuck’s Eat the Street,” Chef Chuck Hughes visited Catalina Island, just 22 miles off the Los Angeles shore. Ninety-nine percent of the island is a nature preserve, but the other one percent is called Avalon. This picture-postcard town is worth crossing 22 miles of ocean for, and this is where Chuck will check out the food.
On Crescent Avenue, Chuck found that Avalon got its name from the legendary story about King Arthur and means island of apples. At the first stop, Lloyd’s of Avalon, where Chuck got to give his sweet tooth a treat or two. Here Taylor Wilson, a candy wizard gave Chuck his first-ever chance to make a candied apple. Here they make ordinary apples morph into something fantastic. They start with Granny Smith apples that are soaked for a short time, then scrubbed until all the wax is removed. If the wax is not removed, the coating will not stick. Then the stick is inserted, and the apple dipped in caramel. Next, they dipped the apples in white chocolate, then coated it in cinnamon sugar for the “Pie Ala Mode.” Then they made the “Avalanche” starting with the caramel dipped apple, then rolled it in walnuts and added streaks of white chocolate running over and across the delightful creation and finally topping it off with another drizzle of dark chocolate. After that Taylor gave Chuck a lesson in eating the awesome concoction; they cut it into pieces, just leaving the core on the stick, which Chuck completed before tasting the true fruits of their labor!
Next, Chuck went to try the best swordfish on the island, and it was found at none other than Steve’s Steakhouse where chef Frank Blair makes the finest stuffed Channel Island swordfish. Chuck got to assist in creating this delicious treat, made with fresh fish right from the back door. As they made the stuffing with shallots, shitake mushrooms, shrimp and crabmeat, they almost did not need the swordfish, but with the white wine to deglaze the pan making the kitchen smell so fine, they made a pocket in the fish and stuffed the thick fish steak and put it in the pan with lemon and clarified butter, then into the oven for 8-10 minutes. Once out, returned to the stove where Frank showed Chuck another trick, he takes cold pats of butter and dips them in flour and added them to the pan, when the butter melted down, it thickened the sauce, a few more finishing touches, and it was a masterpiece.
On the island, mostly everything has to be brought in, but there are a few things that grow locally, and Chuck went to find them at Café Metropole. Here Pamela Albert, the chef and owner serves up healthy and delicious food from all over the world. But Chuck and Pamela went foraging for fennel. They took a golf cart to a special place where she knew they would find some wild fennel, one of the few edible plants that grow on the island. They found it immediately and returned to make something special.
Starting with corn on the cob, they brushed it with canola oil and grilled it, then removed the kernels, mixed them with diced bell pepper, cilantro, cotija cheese, fresh lime zest, good egg based mayonnaise, and seasonings. The finished product was great, but no fennel? Then they made another side salad called Catalina coleslaw. Starting with red and green cabbage, then adding grated parsnips and carrots, honey, apple cider vinegar, poppy seeds and finally, the fennel. Then they added mayo to bring it all together for a great refreshing salad.
Next on the trip, Chuck visited Avalon Seafood and met up with chef Miguel Tejada who made their signature fish and chips. First, he filleted a huge bass and cut it into serving pieces. Then into the flour, a mixture of eggs and buttermilk, then a swathing of cracker crumbs and into the fryer. The finished product contained seasoned fries, homemade tartar sauce and lemon. Chuck stated that it doesn’t get any better than having the freshest fish on this episode of “Chuck’s Eat the Street.”
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