When you’ve been friends with someone for so long, regardless of how diligent you both are at keeping in contact, you’re always going to feel a little tug on those strings which are, apparently, attached to a frosty cardiac muscle in the centre of your thoracic cavity (my scenario anyway).
My friend leaves Wednesday, having been so close to me in south London, for the Wild West – Portland, Oregon. Having a terrible geographical knowledge of US States (c’mon, they’d never be able to point out where Brixton is on a map) I couldn’t tell you if it is actually the Wild West – you know – with cowboys and all. They still have them, right?
The second farewell I bid this week was another westward escape. This time to Wales; land of bara brith, laverbread, and Welsh cakes (posted a sneaky link to Debs’ site. Hers are, quite frankly, the dog’s proverbials).
Because I need great content for my blog, and, because I love my friend (notice the ordering of that sentence) I invited some of my closest mates for lunch (dinner – nudge to the northerners). All I need is a film crew and I’m basically your next Naked Chef (I throw roughly chopped food into the pan from great heights too y’know).
A farewell dinner which would not be forgotten had to include some of Brixton’s finest produce. Seemed only fair since I had directed the party all the way up Brixton Hill. My cooking of late is naturally following the nature of the weather; increasingly inspired by spring. Elderflower and apple spritzers started us off, with some of my favourite olives on the side - nocerella. If you’ve never had them before and are a fan of olives in all forms, please try them. Bright green (like giant peas) and unusually round (like giant peas), they are a lot less salty than your average green olive, have a fleshy texture and nutty flavour.
I served up two whole sea bass between five of us, stuffing it with mint, basil, parsley, and lemon slices. I really don’t understand people who don’t like to see the animal they’re about to eat whole. I demand to know what I’m eating, which is why I always ask my fishmonger to just clean and gut the fish. Plus, the bones and head keep all the divine juices inside, retaining the fish’s moisture. Dust the skin with a reasonable layer of sea salt and I can promise that you will be fighting for leftover pieces of skin from the plates of the fusspots.
Offering the carbohydrates for the meal was a large portion of kisir (I may have made too much) – a Middle Eastern dish made principally with bulgur wheat, parsley, and tomato paste. I used a recipe I spotted about three years ago in the Guardian by one of my favourite columnists and chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi. I needed to add more chilli from the original recipe, and I preferred my bulgar wheat a little softer, so I added more water. It’s a beautiful traffic light platter when all is done and dusted, but I can tell you finding pomegranate molasses when your bastion of hope (Brixton Wholefoods) have run out of stock, can be a little unnerving an hour before your guests arrive. Luckily A&C Co Delicatessen saved my bacon, and my kisir, incidentally.
And the rest of the week…well just a quick one about a fabulous and entertaining cheese and wine evening at Entrée restaurant, on Battersea Rise. The event was hosted by their new restaurant manager, Chloe Gounder-Forbes. She’s a bit of a cheesy star having been on the judging panel of the British Cheese Awards – she knows her stuff.