Book Review: The Lodge at Black Pearl Cookbook

One of Sporting Classics’ senior editors reviews this new title from Vicky Mullaney.

 

Having traveled much of the world by comparison, and having been personally privileged on several occasions to partake of the exclusive and incomparable hospitality and table fare of The Lodge at Black Pearl—the private domain of the Mullaney Clan—it is greatly pleasing to bring to your attention a new cookbook, heretofore the undisclosed “Culinary Bible” of the matriarch of said Clan, Vicky Mullaney.

Cooking for family and friends—of which the Black Pearl has an eclectic and distinguished many—and sharing the outdoor life has been a lifelong passion for chef and sportslady Vicky Mullaney. And again, one has only to have relished the fabulous and traditional Eastern Shore waterfowl hunts conducted at the Black Pearl, and, moreover, witnessed the immense and meticulous surrounding effort Vicky orchestrates in the kitchen—bringing to a massive and groaning sportsman’s table an exalted plethora of dedicated farm-and-shore-to-table delights—to know just how deeply.

No better elucidated than by Vicky’s own phrasing of the Black Pearl mantra: “At Black Pearl, we celebrate life in the way we live, in what we teach, and through the meals we share.”

The result is spectacular: a gunroom full of boiler-warming “meals-before-shooting time;” titillating, lodge-specialty hors d’oeuvres and appetizers destined to drive a waterman delirious; a shoulder bag of hearty, robustly soulful after-the-hunt soups and stews; scrumptious flocks of sides and salads; a shooting locker full of exquisite and kingly entrées, topped, if possible, by a bewildering and enchanting homing flight of dreamscape desserts. Uhmmn-Golly! All carefully designed, served, and presented with the same completing ambient cachet of the spackled old canvasback decoy on the mantle, or the ancient fowling piece and game bag on the wall.

Too voluminous to do justice to in small space, mind you, but from can’t-wait-’til-I-can-do-it-again experience, here’s a sampling of to-die-for favorites: First Flight Apple Dumplings, Christmas Morning Benedict, Overnight French Toast with Cinnamon Apples; Spiced Duck Meatballs, Chesapeake Wings, Sika Tenderloin Rolls, Goose Breast Pâté, Duck Doubloons with Honey Mustard Sauce; Black Pearl Rockfish Chowder, Choptank Oyster Stew, Venison Cider Stew, Harvest Moon Soup; Five Stand Potato Salad, Sweet Tater Casserole, Significant Caesar; Maryland Crab Cakes, Stewed Chicken and Sage Dumplings, Shrimp and Grits, Goose Strudel, Smoked Beef Brisket; Top Gun Chocolate Pots de Crème, Meringues with Ice Cream and Fresh Berries, Black Pearls, Cranberry Walnut Pie. Ohhh, gotta quit—but well, you get the drift—the tide’s in on fine dining.

The secrets to all these and many more are now disclosed publicly for the first time in Vicky’s new, first-quality, richly illustrated and annotated volume: The Lodge at Black Pearl Cookbook, subtitle “Raising and Feeding a Hunting Family.” Complete with shortcuts, kitchen favors, procurement and presentation tips, and, uniquely, the delightful and intermingled confessionary prose of a hunting mom on sporting family and lore, and how it all came to be.

I am reminded of the opening line for the most famous waterfowling story in all of sporting literature: “Supper was a delicious memory.”

Keep this bountiful volume of culinary treasures for ready use on your huntboard, and yours, and those of your most discriminating guests, will be as well.

Good game and fish cookbooks are ubiquitous; those of truly top quality that genuinely inspire are rare. This one makes the grade.

 

Note: The Lodge at Black Pearl Cookbook. Goosepen Studio & Press. Hardbound, illustrated, 244 pages. $45 plus shipping. Orders to: lodgeatblackpearlcookbook.com.

 

 

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