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Dinner for one

May 22, 2011 |  7:54 pm

I’ve never felt uncomfortable eating alone. In fact, as long as it only happens  every once in a while, I look at it as kind of a treat. Or, at least, an opportunity to treat myself. So when my wife left town for a few days to visit friends, I took full advantage.

Friday night I celebrated my temporary bachelorhood with my semi-annual hamburger at Bake ‘n’ Broil. After 20 years of eating there, one of the owners, Andy Child, has become a friend and he very thoughtfully tucked in a portion of their brownie pie for me to take home.

But the real treat was Sunday night. What with one thing or another, it’s been a while since I have been kayaking, so Sunday morning I drove down to the Back Bay at Newport Beach and spent a couple of hours watching the terns and ospreys. As I almost always do, I finished with a visit to Pearson’s Port, conveniently located right next to the kayak landing.

Run by Terese and Tommy Pearson, Pearson’s Port is a little shack at the end of a short pier that boasts some of the best seafood in Southern California. That’s because Tommy catches a lot of it. During the summer season, which just started, he traps spot prawns; in the winter he switches to spiny lobsters.

Preparing these is pretty easy. Of course, you want to honor the quality of the ingredient—that means keeping it simple (garlic, olive oil, salt). You won’t find better shrimp than these. Or livelier. Probably the hardest part of the dinner was corralling the shrimp as they jumped around in the marinating bowl (spot prawns do NOT like olive oil).

After that, the cooking is easy. Skewer them and grill them just until the shells turn a dusky pink. Brush them occasionally with some of the leftover marinade (I don’t know whether using a rosemary branch for the brush really helps, but it sure feels great).

When you eat them, pull the head from the body and be sure to squeeze the head and suck out the fat that is stored there. O Heavenly Elixir! Then peel the tails and marvel that such an amazing meal can be prepared so easily.

I ate mine on the back porch, watching the mockingbirds and hummingbirds flit by. I poured a glass of a decent white wine (I save the good stuff for sharing with friends), and read a bit from the latest Henning Mankell, in which one of my favorite fictional characters, Kurt Wallander, comes to grips with growing old by himself.

I couldn’t help wondering whether he’d ever enjoyed a plate of spot prawns.


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--Russ Parsons

(Photo by Russ Parsons)