Half term started yesterday, so Lettice and I went to the supermarket to buy something good for dinner. Alfred was out, so it was easy to choose fish and chips (Alfred is not too keen on fish, although he's very fond of chips). Lettice wanted monkfish, but there wasn't any, and the only other fish on the counter that didn't look tired was sea trout. That reminded me that Julia at A Slice of Cherry Pie is running a seasonal food event called In the Bag, this month using asparagus, sea trout, and spring onions. Well, we don't need much excuse to eat English asparagus in this house, and there were a few really big spring onions in this week's Riverford veg box.
I don't know about you, but I'm pretty hazy about the seasonality of fish and meat. Veg, I can manage, if it's European. But fish? It's become a year-round commodity in our supermarkets, like avocados. And as I have no hope of growing an avo, I have no idea when they ripen around the world - although I have noticed that there are times of the year when it's impossible to buy a decent one, which, I suppose, means that they are out of season. Can anyone from outside Europe give me some information on this?
Simple seasonal supper
I boiled the asparagus, and we dipped it into oil - much nicer than melted butter, also less trouble for the cook. I bought some hazelnut oil at the Henley Food Fair, delicious but very strong, so we diluted it 50/50 with olive oil, leaving a hint of hazel.
I always cooked fillet of oily fish in the same way - smother it in grated lemon zest and coarsely ground pepper, drizzle it with oil, and cook it in a hot oven until it's just done, then leave it to rest for a few minutes before serving. Chips - well, I think it's hard to beat McCains oven chips with less than 5% sunflower oil. It's almost the only processed food I buy these days: partly idleness, partly the feeling that the cook deserves a few breaks here and there, and partly the certainty that I couldn't make them palatable without using a great deal more oil. And a green salad. Oh, and I forgot to put in the spring onions.
Then raspberries. From Sussex. I know - the whole English countryside is being covered in plastic. But they don't need heat, they're not flown in, nor are they trucked in from Spain. Pushing the limits of seasonality, but better than many other alternatives. Eaten, one at a time, from a communal bowl, so much flavour that there was no need for anything on them.
As I said, it hardly merits a post. And yet this simple supper was about as delicious as it gets.
Stepping out in style - More Robert Lorimer: the garden staircase at Hill of Tarvit.
2 days ago