Friday, December 31, 2010

The Amazing Technicolor Epic Feast of the 7 Fishes 2010

I've been attending, and more recently preparing a course for, the annual Attanasi Feast of the 7 Fishes in Cranford, NJ for almost 15 years now, and I continue to be amazed at the sheer volume and quality of the seafood dishes we enjoy every year, commandeered by the family patriarch, Joe Sr., who carries on the decades old tradition of his Italian family.

We arrived early this year in order to help with the meal prep, but as usual, Joe Sr. had everything ready and under control, an amazing feat, given the 20+ guests he was anticipating. His son Mark, Mark's wife Christine and stepdaughter Brooklyn flew in from Oklahoma for the second straight year to join the celebration, and Christine did her level best to chronicle everything in real time with her iPad, camera, cellphone, mobile uplink and and ESPN video crew in a trailer in the back yard, I think.

We munched on salumi, cheeses, crackers, beer and white Lambrusco in the kitchen, and Joe Sr. opened a package of really fine Nova lox he received as a Christmas present (!), toasted some mini bagels, pulled out some cream cheese and onion, and we had our first fish---deli-style! Joe Sr. decided to try some Nova himself, assembled a bagel and cheese and Nova, and in a quirky accident, broke off a crown from one of his teeth! A man of quiet dignity, he spent the remainder of the evening as tight-lipped as he could, as the hillbilly/goober/Deliverence/banjo music jokes peppered the rest of the evening. I know Christine sneaked a pic of the big gap tooth, but I'm not, nor is she, posting it anywhere. I mean, Joe IS from Newark after all, and you don't mess with Newark Italians. Period.

The dishes, as every year, were utterly top-notch, and this time the meal reprised a few favorite fishes from last year's feast.

I'll let the photos below tell the rest of the story. The food porn, as last year, is courtesy of Christine Attanasi.

OK, , take a deep breath, get ready, here we go:

Shrimp cocktail

Linguine with clam sauce, still the very best version I've ever had.

Eggplant parmigiana

Flounder baked with soy, ginger, garlic and parsley

Panko-crusted tilapia

Huge coconut prawns

A coconut prawn plated with a warm raspberry sauce

Spice-rubbed, maple glazed saddle of salmon

Exquisite scallops wrapped in prosciutto, topped with dill

Fiery, garlicky bacala salad with hot peppers

Scungili (conch) salad

Octopus salad

Ceviche of mahi-mahi

Gorgeously garlicky roasted venison loin, from the, uh, deerfish!

Fresh mozzarella, because, you know, after a dozen fish and venison, you just want some creamy fresh chesee....

A really impressive fruit tart

Creampuffs, eclairs, sfogliatelles and other pastries from the famous Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken

Really good cannolis, from the famous Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken.

A towering dark chocolate cake, which paired well with a Trader Joe's Vintage Ale, actually.

Oh, just one more thin morsel, some strawberries and cupcakes, no?

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