A small celebration and a Thank you !

I have given up posting on the Facebook site … feel a fish decidedly out of water there … and so here I am back on terra firma as it were!  At least this enables me once more to write things that can then be occasionally converted into fun books to give people as presents!

It has been Cowes Week – a week when the whole sailing world heads for Cowes for a week of sailing in large flotillas past oil refineries ashore and car transporters afloat and then come ashore for an evening of soggy fish n’chips, served decorously in plastic boxes which are then left artfully littered up and down the high street, or to eat over-priced and by and large extreme lousy food served in dingy restaurants, or else to quaff heartily warm beer or ice cold Chard’nnay in over-crowded pubs!  Just the sort of thing the English adore!

Sitting outside the gallery yesterday I fell into (Italian) conversation with a couple of visiting Italians who professed themselves baffled by the whole thing (we come eere once and once only!) and couldn’t wait to take their boat back to the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia where the weather and the wind is good, the views better and the food ashore the best of all! I couldn’t agree more! Personally I want to visit Les Voiles de St Tropez, a regatta in the eponymous town at the end of September which to me sounds the best fun of all !

I have always managed to avoid Cowes Week up to now on the pretext of renting the house out to crews who head into town and are prepared to pay disproportionate sums of money to live in someone’s house for the week! But this year on account of our gallery in the High Street we were obliged to stay in town – or near town – and so stayed with Caroline’s mother who in her usual kind way put us up without a peep or a murmur (at least that we could hear) in her lovely cottage at Island Harbour.

Also a few small bits of good news or good fortune collectively hit us this week …. and so we decided that rather than go out for an expensive meal, we would celebrate a day of good weather by sitting in the garden at Island Harbour and have an even more expensive meal in !

I bought a smoked Mackerel at the fish shop which was absolutely delicious, and so turned it into a Mackerel pate. I just forked it off the bone, added some creme fraiche, some horseradish, lemon juice and some capers and hey presto. I also drizzled some passion fruit juice over the top which gave it a wonderful additional element of flavour and served it with some toasted and thus very crunchy ciabatta bread. It was a real treat.

We also decided to do something we only do once in a blue moon and that is eat lobster! I always say I find lobster over-rated, over-priced and over hyped …. that is until I cook and consume one and then I say I find it delicious, a real treat and wonderful. What we had last night was one of the latter!

I cracked it in half – it was already ‘cooked’ – and as last time I did this with Caroline’s children, sprinkled pretty liberally some of Waitrose’s fresh Thai herbs over the top, plonked some chunks of parmesan on top of that, cracked some pepper over it and bunged it under the grill.

Given that a lobby amongst 3 is potentially a little mean … and I was certainly not prepared to buy a second lobby! … I also bought a large … indeed huge scallop each. I simply friedd them very slowly in butter and some more, this time Italian herbs and they came out soft and perfectly cooked and the butter sauce , infused with the scallop flavour and the herbs was just wonderful spooned lightly over the lobster!

We served this with a simple salad of chicory and a few grilled courgettes and had a nice cold bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to accompany it.

Pudding was a perfectly ripe Canteloupe melon dotted with a few strawberries.

Previous dinner posts from Peter

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