I am a pretty well organised person. Too well organised, some might say. Often, I hear the family muttering of OCD as I arrange neat rows of tins in kitchen cupboards. I must have a list when I go shopping. I like to have it in ‘Notes’ on my phone so I can delete the items as I pop them into my trolley. Nothing left in the note means everything I need has been purchased. However, I have a blind spot. A big blind spot. My weeks’ thinking starts on Sunday (my usual blog post cooking day). As a result, I have everything planned for Sunday breakfast, Sunday’s Family Dinner and for evening meals for the early part of the following week. I do the shopping on Saturday morning. I have a dreadful habit of forgetting to get anything for Saturday evening. If I lived alone, this would not be a problem. However, I live with the Wife….
It’s your own fault. I didn’t write it. You didn’t see it, because it isn’t there. Yet planted in your mind is the inappropriate image. The awful picture of something that I didn’t compose and certainly didn’t intend. No. this is a food blog. I try to elevate your standards, not drag them into the gutter.
It’s a while since I have posted something from further east than Howth (A fishing port on the far side of Dublin Bay). This is a slight variation on a classic, served in some of the best Oriental restaurants around. It is not dished up in the average Chinese where the height of culinary ambition matches the diners’ desire for a gooey sauce and a slice of pineapple with their sweet and sour chicken balls. This dish has finesse. It has class and refinement. It does not go well with beer and it will never become a post-pub favourite in the way that chicken chow mein or prawn curry with fried rice have. This is a good thing.
Vanity. It has the potential to be the undoing of the best of us. I work hard to be both selfless and self-aware. However, I was wearing a skimpy tee-shirt (it was a hot day) in the middle of a French market. I heard a clear (too clear for my finely tuned Irish ear) English accent. “Ooooohhh. Look at those muscles. They are wonderful.” I blushed, as one of a fine physique and a self-deprecating attitude should. However, the owner of the sharp voice pushed by us and went to the seafood stall. I followed, somewhat crestfallen, joined the queue and bought a kilo for myself.
Sorry for the long-winded headline. But, there is an undeniable truth appended to the oversized introduction. That is “If you want a magnificent tomato sauce, you have to use fantastic tomatoes. “Snicker, snicker, snicker.”, you may reply. That’s because you wouldn’t recognise a magnificent tomato if you met it in the street. On our recent French holiday, while attending the Saturday market in St. Foy Le Grande, I met plenty of fine tomato specimens right there on the thoroughfare. Rather than tell you, let me show you.
“How..”, I hear you ruminate, “…can the baldy little man consider himself to be lucky?” It’s true, I do face as many challenges in my life as the next guy (or gal). But, this time, the ball broke the right way and my ship came in (if you will pardon me mixing my metaphors so blatantly). I had taken a weekend off. I really was just not in the mood to plan and cook a meal. I hadn’t the enthusiasm to get the camera out and really didn’t fancy writing anything new. I was on the couch and I was staying there.
“Go West” – a gay pride anthem, an Ulster Rugby chant and advice dispensed by the then editor of the New-York Tribune, Horace Greeley in 1851 as “Go west young man, and grow up with the country.” The pride anthem was originally released by the Village People in the late seventies and brought up to date by the Pet Shop Boys in 1993. I have that version on my iPod. I sang the Ulster Rugby version, with tears in my eyes, along with 18,000 others at my hallowed Leinster Rugby ground, the RDS, to honour Nevin Spence, a very talented Ulster Rugby player who died in a tragic accident on the Spence family farm in 2012. I can claim no association with Horace Greeley.
I get conflicted. Various people tell me that I should be earning a decent few quid from the blog. The reality is that is not possible. I write what I like, post to my own schedule and if something gets up my nose, I am happy to share my spleen contents with the world. If one is writing for commercial gain, the spleen venting, nose contents descriptions and haphazard scheduling are all no-nos.
“Salmon en Croute“, such an urbaine sounding title for a very tasty dish. But, let’s just forget the ‘Francification’ and call it ‘salmon in a crust’. Without the fancy title, the elegant dish becomes pretty ordinary sounding. When it’s sounding ordinary and ‘of the people’, I find I can write about it. Let’s face it, I’m an ordinary guy and I just can’t handle fancy. Though, I hope you can because this is one sophisticated tasting treat.
OK, it’s dark. But, that doesn’t make it a dark secret, per se. In fact, it’s just dark. There really is no secret about it. I could have gone down a “My Dark Past” route with this. But, Michael Jackson cornered that particular market a while ago. I could have suggested that the squid was caught in the Dark Net but, the Dark Net is not a place in which any of us want to get caught. So, I went with Dark Secret.