Monday, 23 July 2007

Food glorious food

To be tagged by a Flowerpot is not a daily occurrence, and she has offered me the chance to write about food, one of my very favourite topics. I cannot decline. I must find a way to subvert the requirement to describe my five tastiest restaurants and instead recount five memorable meals. Ok. Sorted. I am the boss of my blog.

My most expensive meal to date was also a delightful one. Four of us descended on Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant in Padstow to celebrate two birthdays. We ate the most sublime of fish dishes, a series of tasters that celebrated the ingredients rather than smothered them. It was posh, it was supremely delicious, and we licked our lips from beginning to end, grinning like the cats that got the fish.

Also incredibly posh was the Castellon de la Plana Yacht Club dinner. I had flown to Barcelona, was whisked miles down the coast by taxi to meet the others and after a quick recce at the hotel walked across the road, past the fish market at the edge of the harbour, to share a massive crushed iced platter loaded with shellfish from tiny shrimps to major lobsters and everything imaginable in between. Once the hands had been soaked in finger bowls and dried on hot flannels, the most heavenly saffron scented paella was placed reverently in the middle of the table. It was mountainous. It was a paeon to earth and sea and sky, of shellfish and birds and mammals. We talked, we laughed, we slurped. We didn't notice that the waiter was waiting for a "gracias" to stem the flood of cognac being poured into huge balloons. We staggered back to the hotel. We knew the meaning of replete.

Less fancy was the superfresh ficelle slathered with unsalted butter carved from a huge hunk of the stuff and shaped by butter pats, topped with slices of dried salami and ripest beefsteak tomatoes. This was all bought from the market in Yssingeaux and eaten sat on a rock by the Loire, feet dangling in the water with the bottles of beer to keep both cool.

My first ever dinner party, held whilst I was still at school, was also memorable. Mostly for the lasagne. Never one for underusing ingredients, I employed so much mozzarella that strings of cheese connected each plate around the table for twelve in a continuous circle. I was sure that dinner was a metaphor for friendship.

And something that continues to give me deep pleasure are those meals I produce for friends that contain entirely home/farm produced ingredients. It might be a tomato and basil salad followed by roast pork, freshly picked veg and apple sauce, followed by pear tart. It could be marinaded lamb on skewers, sausages and other barbecue nosh with strawberries for pud. Roast goose or duckling, with celeriac mash and peas perhaps. Whatever it is, I reared it, planted it and probably plucked it.

There was my friend's mother's fortieth birthday with lobster for all and the most exquisite puds. The chicken supper served with tales of massages in Cambodian opium dens. The huge Cornish pasties baked for the curious in ovens on a kibbutz in Israel. The fishmonger's hamper from which friends produced a continual supply of sea seasoned delights. The Tenerife squids turned inside out with a clingfilmed cucumber causing mass hilarity. I could go on. I probably will. But now it's time for supper.

Oh, and consider yourself tagged, any reader who likes their grub. Will yours include quite so much fish?


Flowerpot said...

Wow, Mopsa. What a cornucopia of delights....

sally's chateau said...

What a truly scrummy description, shall make a note of the restaurant in Barcelona, glad I found your blog through Mountaineer

Rob Clack said...

Really made my mouth water!

I know you posted this a week ago, but I've taken up the challenge and posted 5 of my favourite dishes.