• Sarah Celentano

Bourbon Plum Noodle Bowl

by A Homegrown Homebody

Down a windy, back-woods road, canopied in great pines, somewhere between Old Forge and Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack Mountains, is the last place you'd expect to receive a meal you'd salivate over the thought of for a month hence.

The Adirondack Mountains is one of my most favorite places in the world. While most normal human beings desire tropical locales, sandy beaches and palm trees as a vacation destination, my heart has always been pulled North. For us, we head East and then North for 2.5 hours and we've made it. To the Mountains. Lakes. Loons. Sweatshirts at night. A fire as a necessity. Clean, crisp air. I had spent several memorable weeks with my family and friends in the Adirondacks growing up. And now I've been with my husbands family every summer for the past fifteen or so years. It feels like a homecoming when we drive past The Sign, welcoming us to the woods, inviting us to slow down, climb a mountain, paddle a kayak and drink our coffee on a deck overlooking the Fulton Chain of Lakes. It never gets old.

We always make a point to get at least one meal at The Lean-To at Great Pines. And gelato from Northern Lights in Inlet, best enjoyed on the dock with the most picturesque view. And the most perfect pie, with the flakiest crust and most perfect Forest Berry Filling at Screamin' Eagle in Inlet. And the best damn eclairs money can buy from Mary's Bakery also in Inlet. So basically, go to Inlet, eat all of the things and spend the rest of your time on the little beach taking in the view. It will be your best day ever. Unless you go parasailing and canoe to an island for breakfast on Saranac Lake, then that will be your best day ever. Or wake up to the call of the loons on a misty morning in a quaint, historic cabin at White Pine Great Camp. Then that, in fact, will be your best day ever. Just go to there, okay?

This year we ventured to a new place for dinner in Big Moose. Have you ever heard of Big Moose? A murder happened there. There's a book about it. On recommendation by my sister in law, we decided to try out The Little Fox for dinner on our last night of vacation. We were met with exactly what you'd expect from a restaurant in the Adirondacks; every surface made of pine, a dining room with old carpeting and a homey, grandma smell. Based on looks alone, I wasn't expecting much. However, they had a delightfully small, eclectic sounding menu which is always promising. My mother-in-Law and I both settled on the rice bowl. It sounded light and refreshing, I guess? Not your typical Adirondack bar fare.

What was placed before us was awe-inducing. A rainbow of fresh, artfully arranged, perfectly sliced, noodled and julienned vegetables and fruit. Hiding beneath was perfectly tender, peanut saucy chicken atop a bed of fluffy white rice. I was not expecting it. And I was not expecting to want to lick my bowl clean. And I definitely was not expecting to be visited by the chef, clad in her mask, at the end of our evening to make sure we enjoyed our meal and to dote on the little ones. It was just the best, most unexpected pandemic dining experience to date.

The recipe I have for you today is nothing like the pea-nutty rice bowl at The Little Fox. I wouldn't dare even attempt to recreate the Turmeric Spiced Calamari I had at Good Luck ten years ago. Omg literally still dreaming about the spicy tomato chutney dipping sauce. Stoopppppppp it. The most memorable restaurant meals are memorable because I simply cannot recreate them at home. While I certainly can riff on it, the Little Fox's rice bowl has become my inspiration for gorgeous, bright, delightfully textured weeknight dinners ever since. For you today, because I know you're wondering what to do with your plethora of zucchini, plums and peaches, I have perfected a recipe for juicy, zucchini-y, gluten free (on accident, out of breadcrumbs), chicken meatballs. And a sweet, sticky sauce you make right in the pan. Oh, and when peaches are done being in season, DO make this with fresh pineapple for the rest of the year. You simply must.

This is a choose your own adventure recipe. Use whatever ground meat and vegetables you have on hand. Make jasmine rice instead of rice noodles. Make zoodles with the rest of the zucchini. Shred, grate, slice, eat the cucumber whole. Make a fancy slaw or do what I do, and make an Asian slaw salad kit from the grocery store directly in the bag. My favorite weeknight dinner hack. The possibilities are endless and since you are living your one, true, beautiful life, you get to make your own dinner decisions tonight. So get at it!

Let's do this back to school, back to work, crazy pandemic, racial reckoning, Earth is Burning, weeknight bonanza, one day, one take-out fake-out at a time.

All my love,


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