Musing on lobster

Sunday and the rain held off for a while so we took the time to go into Liverpool and spend a couple of hours at The Liverpool Independent Food Festival. This took place in an old warehouse building in the Baltic Triangle area of town..

The middle of the warehouse was filled with rough hewn wooden benches and tables and down each side there were a series of stalls put together with more wood and scaffolding poles each of which was given over to some of the best young places to eat in Liverpool.

The starting point was of course the stall selling Liverpool Craft Beer. We took advantage and settled ourselves down with a pint of Love Lane Pale Ale and a pinchos from the Roja  Pinchos stall which was a piece of spiced chicken on bread. We then wandered round and I was left to think – if I had a stall what would I be cooking on it. it is of course all very well being the king in the kitchen at home but setting out to try sell some of that food to the outside is a whole other matter and then what would you cook for that outside world.

I have vague ideas of a stall selling nothing but mackerel and lobsters cooked on an open flame. The trouble with this, apart from it being a vague idea, is that the mackerel would need to be fresh and just out of the sea and unless I was buying the lobsters off a pier in West Cork they would be too expensive – so two things that could render such an enterprise impractical in Liverpool.

Having put those thoughts to bed we ventured onto another pint and some more food. as we were heading into lunchtime we went for more solid sustenance and a lamb burger with sweet potato chips (not a fan – there is nothing wrong with chips made from a potato that is not sweet – sweet does not make them better) and pitta stuffed with falafel. The falafel were good although I had to stuff the pitta myself.

We were sat down by this stage and my incipient deafness kicked in battling against the David Bowie that seemed to be on constant stand-by in the background. Somewhere along the way a margarita slushy had been purchased. Apparently this had something to do with it being a margarita and some confusion on the part of the 14 year old who thought  she was just buying  a slushy. It got drunk whilst we tried to talk about who was driving home the conversation being helped along with me being deaf and David Bowie.

it transpired that I wasn’t the driver as soon there-after another pint of the Love Lane Pale Ale was put in my hand and we trucked into a plate of food from Roja Pinchos including some particularly good croquettes made with chicken and chorizo and bread smeared with an anchovy, olive and mushroom cream and topped with a whole silver anchovy.

Thunder & lightening

It has rained all day Friday and most of the day Saturday although it cleared for an hour or two in the afternoon. Time enough to get my hands dirty in the pond pulling out some of the reeds and their roots which are starting to clog it up. I was pleased to come across both a baby newt and a baby frog. Hopefully they survived the clear out. There is also at least one goldfish that somehow has managed to keep going even though the reeds had got so thick there couldn’t have been much room for it to swim.

In the light of the early evening I strained off a jar of rhubarb and vodka. It has been macerating in the cellar for the last few months which was probably too long. It tasted fairly hefty and is a pleasing dirty pink colour. I also had some vodka that had been flavoured with barberries as well and I mixed that into one of the bottles to make it a deeper shade of red.

After the hiatus with the rain it started to come down again but this time with added thunder and lightening. It was around us for about twenty minutes. There wasn’t time to count the seconds between the flashes of lightening and the deep grumble of the thunder as they seemed jumping ahead of themselves and it wasn’t clear which flash of lightening preceded which clap of thunder.

We sat eating with the door open by the table so we could take in the full noise of it and the rain coming down in great dregs heavy enough to soak a man in a few seconds.

I ate a dorade – roasting it in the oven with garlic, cherry tomatoes and lemon.

Sunday will be spent trying to work out what to do with the pineapples that were going cheap in the grocers.

The sweet smell of burning wood, seaweed and lobster shells.

This time last week (11.00pm Monday evening) I was still sat out on the small beach at the end of the Cottage’s garden in Ahakista. The sun had gone down an hour or so before but there was still some residual light left from it – apart from that the sky was a blaze of stars. There was no moon and the faint grey of the Milky Way arched above.

Earlier that evening I had cooked another seven lobsters on the BBQ. They had been split in the kitchen and then laid shell down over the hot coals. They had taken just over 20 minutes to cook. In truth I should have given them some more attention and shifted them around as they had cooked as some of the shells had started to burn from the fierce heat.

There was no Pernod left in the cupboard so this time I flamed them with the dregs of a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey before covering them with melted butter, garlic, salt and pepper.

We ate them sat round an open fire pulling them apart with our fingers and throwing the shells to the flames. The tide was out and the sea lay back on the beach exposing the blacks rocks and the waste of seaweed.

The jumper I was wearing is on the bed upstairs and it still smells of that fire – the sweet smell of burning wood, seaweed and lobster shells.

Another leaving

We arrived back from Ireland last Tuesday evening having left the Cottage at just after 8.00 in the morning.

Not for the first time the water was perfectly calm as the cases and bags of bacon and cheese were squeezed into the back of the car. There was no wind and there was a quiet stillness that hung in the air that seemed to be trying to tell us there was no reason to leave and the world would carry on turning if we just left the car in the orchard and went back to bed.

Walking up the pier I met Tommy pulling up in his red truck. He was just off to work in his boat, to go pulling pots, and we spoke for a few minutes – the weather was going to be good the next few days and we’d had it shitty – and then I pulled away to the car and the drive back to Dublin.