Being a Northern California Native and an Oregon Transplant, admitting that you came to the camping game late in life can be a little tough. It's an activity that tends to come with the region (like New York and bagels) and having limited skill and experience with it can make you feel a bit embarrassed. People are always baffled when I say that my family didn't camp.
And to be fair, I'm sure they did at some point. But having two older sisters ahead of me, I think that by the time it was my turn to be lugged along with the tents and sleeping bags, my parents were much more inclined to stay in a well-equipped cabin or house. I don't blame them. I also think it might have had something to do with the fact that I was something of a homebody as a child. Constantly outside, but always in the forts and familiar trails of the forest and land close to home. Come to think of it, what I did back then was pretty similar to camping. Just bringing a few of the necessary indoor items to the great outdoors really.
These days those items include coffee, sleeping bag and mat and plenty of thing to roast over an open fire. We "roughed" it this weekend in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, wine tasting at Navarro, beer sampling at Anderson Valley Brewing Co. and plenty of grilled vegetables, sausages and s'more fixings over the fire, and I have no complaints. Exactly what some weekends of camping should be. Your totally basic camping food and fare.
But next time...next time I'm going to kick it up a notch. I plan to roast all manner of foods over the next campfire I encounter. Grilled bread with smashed avocado and tomato spread, grilled peaches and figs wrapped in pancetta, and salmon cooked over the coals in foil. Here's the salmon recipe I plan to adapt. My first attempt was done at home in the oven, but I think it's the perfect recipe for gourmet camping. So easy. Just make sure the cooler is packed with ice, and eat on the first night.
Creme Fraiche Roasted Salmon
adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, June 2009
1 2lb center cut wild salmon fillet with skin, about 1 1/4 inches thick (it pays to buy the best salmon possible for this recipe. Make sure it's fresh)
1/4 cup creme fraiche
salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper on the baking sheet. Spread the creme fraiche generously over the salmon. Roast the fish in the oven until it is opaque in the center, about 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a plate and serve hot.