A Dead Muse, a Grilled Vanilla Quail Recipe and a three hour trip to 'GAUGUINS ISLAND'

Or, how a vanilla spice blend and a mug of grog can take the edge off a very bad day...

My Swedish muse died a few days ago. Her ability to creatively inspire me in even the smallest sense suddenly fizzed and our once fluid connection hardened like gristle in a Tijuana hamburger. Even the afterglow of creative energy is now nothing more than a sunburn that's currently peeling with the vigor of latex paint on the hull of a battleship. I buried her in that overgrown garden of my past today. RIP my dead muse.

With my muse now dead, summer taking its final bow, and a tax bill bigger than my zip code and phone number combined, I feel like pulling a geographic. Fleeing. Gone daddy-o. I want to become more than just a simple runaway from a bloated right thumb of a state, I want to be a fugitive from the whole red-white-and-blue, no-money-down, fast-food-fads, status-over-substance, if-it's-sweet-fry-it American-dream thing.

Flee to an island oasis somewhere. Pull a true Gauguin and live among tanned topless beauties with unpronounceable names. Chase down wild spotted shore goats, indulge in tough gamey meat and soft bitter papayas. Spend my days painting the lush green paradise that is an exact opposite of my here and now.
Yes, that is what I want to do. But, with my muse now dead, the canvas here sits blank. A blank canvas means no income and no income means no method to flee and on and on it goes. But I do have a short term answer...Three simple words...

Rum, vanilla and quail. I'll put some Martin Denny on the iPod, pour a serious 'Ball-less Monkey' (with a twist of lime), and make myself a tropical spiced tiny bird feast. And in that meal I will travel to Gauguins island in both mind and taste, forgetting my 'apple-pie' woes for a few hours. 

The rum was a birthday gift, the quail an impulse buy (from a misguided trip to the local Pilipino market in search of crispy Patas), the vanilla spice seasoning a personal creative experiment with a damn happy outcome.

Lately I've been on a spice kick. I've taken to mixing my own rubs, seasonings, and marinates. I have jars and jars of personal blends; some are romantic like a Goya, some are bitter with realism like a Vemeer, some are abstract by design like a Matisse, and some simply push the boundaries like a Duchamp.

But the jar I reach for now, my Vanilla Spice blend, is pure Gauguin. It reeks of vanilla orchids and rich tropical cumin with a hint of paprika peering though like reflective eyes in the black jungle night.

It was a bold move, using powdered vanilla in a spice blend, but it was also conjured in the time of the muse. She guided the boldness (all I dare combine now is salt and pepper, damn my muse for dying).  

Don't be frightened by the Vanilla, it synergies with the cumin to create a unique flavor that is so exotic, it can not easily be recalled, yet the mind - through swaying taste buds - will find its way to a tropical paradise of forgotten islands. 

Gab a bunch of prepped quail, mix a batch of spice and fire up the grill (although this works best with the gaminess of small wild/unconventional fowl, I suppose a fat lazy city chicken will do in a pinch).

THE SPICE MIX (makes a normal spice jars worth):
3 TBS Vanilla Powder
1 1/2 TBS Ground Cumin
1 TBS Granulated Garlic (not salt or powder)
1 TBS Granulated Onion (not salt or powder)
1 TBS Celery Salt + 1 tsp white salt
1 TBS Paprika

1 1/2 TBS Vanilla Spice Mix
2 TBS Apple Juice
1 TBS White Wine Vinegar

Place the marinate in a zip-lock bag along with 6 quail (or 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs if you insist) and let it sit in the refrigerator 4 to 12 hours. Grill over indirect heat and finish with a quick kiss of flame.

So that my friends, is a quick get-away gift from this shore-locked muse-less artist to all those in need of a quick trip to Gauguin's island (there is no Mary Ann but the Ginger grows wild). Don't forget the rum and sunscreen and send me a card when you get a chance.