Get in the spirit — denizens of the deep dip
The frost is on the pumpkin, and for us that pumpkin is a jack o’ lantern.Call it what you like — Day of the Dead, All Saints or All Souls Day — Halloween is still the best time to put adult behavior aside, and play like a kid again. And here on the Comstock, we’re always ready to put adult behavior on hold.With the holiday falling on a Wednesday this year, there will be a scattering of celebrations around town beginning the weekend prior to Oct. 31 (we’re doing a special menu that Saturday night) , but the good stuff will be on Halloween proper.Beginning with a Goblins Parade at 5 p.m., many of the shops will be open downtown and offering candy for trick-or-treaters. It’s a safe place for kids, and a way better haul than going house to house.There’s also a full schedule of Ghost Trains running from Virginia City down to Gold Hill and back starting at 4 p.m. Go to http://www.virginiatruckee.com for details.One of the highlights of the evening is the rare opportunity to roam the Virginia City Silver Terrace cemetery after dark. It is the only night of the year that it’s permitted, and for the price of admission — only $5 for adults and $3 for children younger than 12 — you also will be helping a good cause.Founded 12 years ago in response to the damage caused by years of negative elements, both natural and human, the Comstock Cemetery Foundation has set about repairing and restoring some 390 tombstones, constructing protective fences, establishing paths and mapping the gravesites using ground penetrating radar.One of their crowning achievements happened this summer when they were able to return to its rightful resting place a headstone belonging to two young boys who died in a snowstorm, Christmas 1871. Through their exhaustive research and help from some like-minded people at the Two Rock Presbyterian Church in Petaluma, Calif., where the marker was discovered, the Jones boys’ tragic story has an ending.For more information, history and directions, go to comstockcemetery.com. And if you go, wear good walking shoes, and bring a flashlight. As for our recipe today, this is a great dish for a party whether you’re throwing one or going to one. It can be made a day ahead, and it travels well. Try to resist the urge to rinse the chilies under running water. It depletes the flavor. If you just don’t have the time or the ambition to do the chilies yourself, you can substitute a couple of the small cans of Ortega diced green chilies. It’s been done before.So forget about the deficits and debates over party politics. Have your own party or come join ours. Happy Halloween.Shrimp, Crab and Artichoke DipMakes about 6 cups2 poblano chilies, roasted, peeled and diced1 medium onion, diced1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped1 cup artichoke hearts, canned or frozen, rough chop1 ounce butter2 tablespoons fresh lime juice3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper1⁄2 pound sour cream1 pound cream cheese1⁄2 pound crab meat1 cup grated cheese, Monterrey Jack, Provolone, Mozzarella, or any other white, melting cheese.Place the poblanos over an open flame and roast turning frequently until the skin is blistered and black. Place in a bowl, and cover with plastic to cool slightly. Remove the stem, cut the chili in half length wise and scrape off the burnt skin with a knife. Scrape the seeds from the inside and dice the flesh.In a large saut pan, melt the butter, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the chopped shrimp and cook until the shrimp are just turning pink. Add the diced chilies and artichoke hearts and cook for a minute or two. Add the Worcestershire, and Old Bay and cook for one minute. Add the lime juice and toss to combine. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.While the shrimp are cooling, beat the cream cheese until softened. Add a little of the sour cream, and beat until smooth. Beat in the rest of the sour cream. Add the crab and the cooled shrimp mixture and stir just to combine. Taste for salt. Place the dip in a two-quart casserole, top with grated cheese and bake at 350 degrees until warmed through — about 15 minutes. Serve with chips, toast points or a spoon.• Brian Shaw and his wife , Ardie, own Cafe Del Rio in Virginia City.