Saturday, 31 January 2015

Cafe a Vin - A much better starter...

A couple of months ago I moaned about a very small starter at Browns in the City.  What a contrast was the charcuterie starter at Cafe a Vin in Spitalfields Square on Thursday. Their charcuterie maison came with a celeriac remoulade and cornichons too.  About four times as much food as Brown's for just a pound more!

We had a very nice Languedoc, Les Trois Poules Rouge 2013, from a vineyard about ten miles north of Montpellier for £26.50.  This is a nice City (well just outside, technically) brasserie (pretty waitress, too) with not too outrageous prices.  I'll go there again.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Smoked Mackerel Pate

I just did one of those online tests to see if I was getting Alzheimer's disease which, according to the test I am not (yet).  One of the things that was recommended, after having got my results, was that I should be eating more oily fish.   Now I dislike fish intensely.  I think it is, at best, effete, bland and lacking in texture (white fish, salmon).  At worst it is noxious, putrid tasting and smelly (mackerel, herring, sardines)  How can it be both?  Well it depends on the fish, of course.  However, suffice to say, I would never choose to eat fish if meat was available. The number of times my heart has sunk when abroad and someone tells me that they are taking me to a "nice seafood restaurant" (talk about contradictory terms).  Oddly, I do enjoy crustacea but not molluscs.  I particularly dislike oysters, which, as Sophie once said, is odd given they "taste like your favourite part of a woman's body"  "They taste like bottom?" I replied, receiving a kick as a result. No doubt this is something to do with their reputation as an aphrodisiac. Or is it that girls taste like oysters?  Given I tasted girl well before I tasted oysters, for me, it is the former.

Anyway, given my team of doctors are now banging on about oily fish too, I thought I would dig out what is, oddly, given the above, a favourite recipe.  This is smoked mackerel pate; a recipe as given to me by my Uncle Keith, who was in the Airborne at Arnhem but spent his twilight days living in East Sussex, trout fishing, making game pies, collecting pickelhauben (which sounds, in this context, like some sort of Scandinavian herring dish) and smoking his own fish.  He was the one who left me many, many bottles of classed growth claret in his will. 

This is a tremendously simple but tasty recipe and only has three ingredients: Peppered smoked mackerel fillets, fat free fromage frais and lemon juice.  The peppered fillets give it a bit more bite than the normal ones and avoid fishy blandness.  I use fromage frais because most recipes and ready made mackerel pate are usually high in fat, being made with cream cheese or crème fraîche.  No point in eating oily fish for your health if you bung a load of cheese into it!  

I just put a pack's worth of mackerel fillets in a bowl, broken up with a fork, with about three or four tablespoons of fromage frais and a couple of squeezes of lemon juice and then use my hand held blender on it until it turns into a smooth paste. Then decant it into small pots.  I find that one pack of mackerel gives you enough pate for three pots.  If you put cling film over the top it keeps in the fridge for about two days.  I have mine with wholemeal pitta and/or cucumber and pepper batons.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Full English Breakfast: The Magic Nine at Sainsbury's

I was having breakfast at Sainsbury's on Sunday and noticed that they had all the constituents for the Magic Nine of the Full English Breakfast.  Now although I knew you could pay extra to have additional items added to your big breakfast, as I usually order an extra egg, I hadn't spotted that there was another short list of things you could order on top, which included mushrooms.  So by ordering the big breakfast plus mushrooms and black pudding I could achieve the Full English Breakfast, albeit a rather bargain basement version.  In fact paying 79p for one rather under-cooked mushroom wasn't really good value but it enabled me to record, for the first time, a breakfast featuring the Magic Nine.