Rock Creek Lake: My Weekend Away

6 Oct

Heat rash. The itchy, red bumps appeared on my legs two days ago. Not because I was sweltering here in San Diego, in 108 degree heat*, but because I wore too many layers in front of a campfire.

My family used to go to Rock Creek Lake every summer, but I’ve never visited this late in the year. Aspen trees blazed orange and gold between stately pines, and the lake lay still and quiet. We rented an electric motor boat and caught six rainbow trout. Good-sized ones, at that, though none were the famed Alpers trout.

That night, we tossed an unopened bag of charcoal on the campfire and waited for the trapped air to heat up and go “POP.” Once the coals died down, OtherC seared two hefty T-bone steaks on a grate set over the embers. They made the perfect meal, accompanied by baked beans, marinated tomatoes, and Double Nut Brown ale from Mammoth Brewing Company.

But the good meals didn’t end there. Sunday night, back home, OtherC deftly filleted two of the trout before I ran them through a mixture of olive oil and melted butter. Then I dredged the dripping fillets in crushed almonds and threw them under the broiler with a few slices of lemon. Meanwhile, summer squash sizzled on the stove until it turned spotty and brown, then I tossed it with fresh garlic, parsley, and a little bit of mint.

After dinner, we settled into bed. It felt so strange falling asleep in the sticky heat, especially considering the night before I woke up at 2 am, shivering in my sleeping bag.

Trout Almondine, adapted loosely from The Young Man and the Sea
(served 2, but our trout were so big, it could easily have served 4)
Four 10″ trout fillets
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup almonds, chopped medium fine
Two lemons, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Mix the oil and butter together in a large, shallow bowl or a 9×13 baking pan. Put the chopped almonds in another similarly sized vessel.
Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper on the flesh side of trout fillets. Run a trout fillet through the oil and butter mixture until both sides are slick and dripping with good stuff. Press the flesh side of the fillet into the chopped almonds, making sure it is well coated when you remove it. Place the fillet on a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the other fillets.
Lay 2-3 slices of lemon on top of each trout fillet and slide the baking sheet into a preheated broiler. Leave for 6-8 minutes. The trout will be white and flaky when it’s done, and the almonds will be browned and even a little burnt.

*Confession: I am over a week late in posting this. After a blazing day of heat, it’s been nothing but rain for a week!

Photo Credit: Bill Gracey

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