The simplest, most beautiful starter
the grassiest olive oil
why vermouth should be in your fridge this summer
2 smart places to hang out on the Isle of Wight
and the world’s best cheesy snack (IMHO)
One of the best raw fish dishes I’ve eaten
Given I go there for their sublime pasta it’s a bit ironic that one of my favourite Bristol restaurants Sonny Stores served a perfect low-calorie starter the other day - a dish of raw sea bass with celery leaf, chilli and lemon which you could easily reproduce at home. I say easily but your fish needs to be scrupulously fresh which means making friends with a fishmonger who will tell you when they’re getting deliveries.
This is how you do it according to the chef Pegs Quinn:
“Have the fillet of fish skin down on the board. Use the best olive oil you can buy, drizzle it on your plate and season with salt and pepper. Using a good sharp knife slice the fish as a couple of millimetres think. If you leave the skin on the fillet it’s easier. Take the blade all the way through the flesh to the skin but don’t go through. At the skin release the slice of fish and put on the seasoned plate
Repeat until the plate is full. Then add a good squeeze of the best lemons known to man. We like Calabrian dried chilli a lot so a bit of that to taste and some chopped celery leaf. A bit more olive oil and some more seasoning on top of the fish”
Honestly it’s amazing.
. . . and the oil you’ll need to make it
Are you aware of the age of the olive oil you buy? If you want that distinctive grassy taste you need to look out for a young one. I’m a big fan of Belazu’s early harvest Arbequina olive oil which you can buy in bottles or tins (direct from the website or Ocado) from £8.75 a bottle which is not excessive for oil of this quality. That said it’s for drizzling rather than cooking with, obviously.
Get into vermouth
One of my subscribers was asking me about vermouth the other day which is actually a brilliant bottle to have to hand over the coming months. For those of you who are not familiar with it it’s a herb-infused wine-based aperitif, traditionally used in cocktails but equally delicious on its own.
For summer I think white vermouth is the most versatile. There are two types - dry and bianco which is off-dry. You can drink either of them neat but I like the former long with tonic and the latter with soda - or in the white negroni above. One of my favourites is the Chazalettes Extra Dry which you can buy from The Whisky Exchange for £22.75. It’s 18% but makes a great low-alcohol option once it’s diluted.
Look out for the more floral Chambéry too which is particularly good value. The Wine Society does one under its own label for £9.25 or you can buy it from Waitrose for £10.49 . Once you’ve opened it you need to keep it in the fridge and drink it within a couple of weeks.
Two smart places on the Isle of Wight
As a friend reminisced when she saw my pictures of The Hut at the weekend the Isle of Wight used to be full of chintzy tea rooms not bars that make you feel you’re in Ibiza. It’s a really cool bar and restaurant with gorgeous views overlooking Colwell Bay on the west coast of the island (OK, it did help that the sun was blazing). I haven’t eaten there yet but my mate Fiona Sims (the other Fiona) who lives nearby vouches for the food. Lobster and chips sounds good to me though watch out for the wine prices. This is a place that has its own helicopter landing pad . . .
Speaking of chips you should also try the The Terrace at Yarmouth which overlooks the Lymington ferry and is therefore perfectly situated for a last minute lunch before you head home. As you can see they serve extravagantly large portions for which they arguably need bigger plates 😉.
The world’s best cheesy snack
There are some cookbooks I always go back to and one is the original Honey & Co book by Itamar Srulovich and his wife Sarit Packer of the middle-eastern restaurant of the same name (which is moving to Lambs Conduit Street in Bloomsbury shortly). And the recipe I make more often than any other are their bouikos which are like a supercharged cheesy scone. You should make double the quantity although even that may not be enough. I can’t find the recipe online though a number of bloggers have posted their own version. I’d buy the book if I were you.
That’s it for this week. Just a reminder that next week is the last week that the Friday 5 will be available to free subscribers so if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen of it so far make a note in the diary to sign up on our special introductory deal
PS do you have any ingredients, drinks or dishes you’d like me to cover or tip me off about come to that?