Monday, June 18, 2012

Wheel o' Dutch Brie, Summer Stock in Holland Michigan and Easy and Sumptuous Summer Pasta

Summer Stock is that time of year when all New York City theater actors try to get out of the big old smelly, sticky, hot, sweltering city and go into the hinterlands of America to bring culture and art to the hearths and hamlets of the old ole US of A. At least it used to be that, 15 years ago or so when I was starting out. There were almost 100 regional and stock companies looking for actors every season. Now years later there are so few left. So many theaters which employed the young up and coming talent and filled their rosters with those hungry for experience and the sheer desire to perform have vanished. They just ran out of money or patrons and are a lost part of our American landscape in my opinion.  And believe me there were masses of hopefuls in NYC vying for a chance to work long hours for little pay and live in sometimes really bad housing just to be doing what they came to the city to do, Perform!!! Summer Stock provided however, in my opinion some of the best experiences I ever had as a young aspiring broadway baby.  Both on and off the stage. And yes I was once an AUCKTOURRRR!  ( said in an elongated and continental accent).  Still am....or what's left of one!

Why was summer stock such a draw? Well let me explain. It goes something like this. You audition for places all over the US which are producing shows, you get a contract, you travel there, you live there for the duration of the summer normally, you work night and day rehearsing and performing and you love it! Because it's what you want to be doing and not some survival job waiting for the next gig. ( Would you like fries with that!)

I was lucky. I did stock every year I lived in New York as an actor for 15 years ( unless I was on tour and already employed). I did 6 years at Seaside Music Theatre in Daytona Beach Florida and I loved every moment down there and made some of the best friends I would ever have. But I also worked in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York State, and several other states. Now many of those theaters are gone and so is the opportunity for the young and new crop of actors to ply the boards in far flung places. Still theaters live on and some get that chance. Here's hoping they grow and prosper.

One of the things that was always really fun about living in a summer stock environment was entertaining ourselves on a shoestring budget. I mean looking back it was quite the gypsy life. We would roll into a town where the theater was. Find our usually meager quarters and the first thing we would do was decorate. This was usually done as much out of necessity as it was out of fun. The dollar store  and thrify stores were starting places and then it went up to  about the Target neuveau from there. Sheets, Blankets, Lamps, Hanging lights, throws, pillows, pots and pans, blenders, glasses, tupperware, wine racks and rugs, posters and art and even tiki torches were all things which might be acquired to make the hovel into a home for a couple of months
We were just as creative in entertaining and party making. Theme parties such as "White Trash party", "Christmas in July", "Twisted Prom Party", "TV and Movie Personality Party" or even a "Priscilla Queen of the Desert Party" were popular themes.

And dining in parties were of course popular as going out for dinner was not an everyday thing ( Not counting Midnight Taco Bell Runs!!). So we cooked. Some of us well, and some of us not so well, but it was the time together and the fun we had that made it great. Well that and the liquor! Just joking! Well, sort of.

Anyway, I have a couple of recipes from that time that I can share. but this particular recipe is a cross breed from my friend Fred Tessler of the Denver Tessler's ( As you might notice he is becoming a guest star on the blog!) He spends summers at Hope Summer Rep. in Holland Michigan where he and his fellow director types have fantastic dinners all Summer long. He shared this recipe with me which a woman who works with him makes every summer. At first I could not believe what is was or how it was prepared. But it's a dish originally from "The Silver Palette Cookbook", an old favorite of many folks ( I do not own it).
Well I tried it and wow is it good. So I thought I would pass it onto you.  The recipe was described to me this way. Basically you take a small wheel of brie. Soak it in olive oil for a few hours. Cook spaghetti or bucatini and toss it together with sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and garlic. As rich as Brie cheese sounds he maintains that is is not a heavy dish but with a lovely taste and smooth consistency. Blessed with fresh garden herbs and tomatoes it sings summer but with a sumptuous twist.

So here's a recipe for the summer Ya'll give it a try and enjoy!

Pasta with Brie, Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil and Arugula ( Inspired by the Silver Palette)

serves 4-6 as an entree, 6-8 as a first course
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound Brie cheese, rind removed, torn into irregular pieces
1 cup cleaned fresh basil leaves, cut into strips and 1 cup baby arugula
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 cup best quality olive oil
salt to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds spaghetti (sometimes I use bucatini, because it’s hearty)
freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Combine tomatoes, brie, basil, garlic, 1 cup olive oil, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl. Prepare at least 2 hours before serving and set aside, covered, at room temperature
2. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and boil until al dente, about 10 minutes.
3. Drain pasta and immediately toss with the tomato sauce and arugula. Serve immediately.

No comments:

Post a Comment