In my neck of the woods, fiddly food seems to be making something of a comeback. There’s an awful lot of “nestling in” and “perfumed with” knocking about again. I really thought we’d seen the last of that in our local restaurants, but two of my favourites have both caught the bug and it seems to be spreading.
Of course there are some that prefer this type of cuisine, usually women, who are enviably thin and well maintained, rather like a classic sports car.
I do however, appreciate the skill and artistry involved in producing a plate that looks full, when actually you may only have one, rather tiny, fillet of sea bream on it. No doubt though, it will be gratinéd with something obscure. Possibly surrounded by miniscule puddles of a reduction of balsamic vinegar with shavings of parmesan. Nestling on a bed of something that will of course be perfumed with rosemary.
I know that it is said that the “eye takes the first bite” but sometimes I get dizzy and my eyes glaze over as I try to take it all in. I prefer simple, rustic food.
Heaven to me is a thick cut, rose veal steak, pan fried with sage and garlic, served with the meat juices from the pan and a pile of spinach. Another favourite is mackerel. I coat it in seasoned oatmeal and pan fry it, or, I halve ripe tomatoes and cook them with the mackerel adding a good squeeze of lemon, thyme and plenty of garlic. It could be some plump Devon scallops, seared in foaming butter with a little lemon, salt and pepper.
My absolute favourite is a roast dinner. Roast chicken with sage and onion stuffing, creamy bread sauce, gravy… ooh and not forgetting the crispy skin. Maybe a loin of pork, boned, stuffed and served with apple sauce and crackling. Blistered from the oven, the fat slightly sticky and salty with that unmistakable crunch. A majestic rib of beef takes some beating, cooked on the bone with Yorkshire pudding made with the beef dripping and served with freshly made creamed horseradish… I could go on and on.
To me, good, fresh food should be cooked simply and with passion and that’s a recipe I never tire of.
Copyright © Ffiona Reid-Owen (2011)