2010. július 15., csütörtök

Living in Devon is like living in heaven

Bad stereotype is also a stereotype, and stereotyping is not always bad, but worth to research on your own.

I'm just wondering about how long should be the list of British food I know, I'm guessing quite short, less shorter the one I've ever really tried. Fish & chips, shepards pie, blackpudding, tea with milk, just mentioning the one's I 've heard about possibly the first time in primary school on my English lessons. Where they were wanned to feature the cultural diversity to 10 year old kids, by learning these recipes by heart, memorizing them from old-fashioned, brownish photos. Still cannot understand the reason, but it may explains my future having reservations about these food.
Honestly still uninterested about them, but being grateful about Arvon in Devon - practically the garden and the store-room of England - to show me the other side of British cuisine, the one I've hoped to be existed.

Right after my arrival to Totleigh Barton , Arvon Fundation's first centre, for foodwriting course, in the first morning we went to discover Heatherleigh Farmers Market, a great presentation of local goods and attractions, like their weekly chicken auction, just to mention the most weird, but worth to describe later sight.

Surprisingly they do not sell any blackpuddings, nor fish&chips, neither anything that reminds me this terribly brown meat sauce they often pour on everything according to those good-old photos from primary school. But they have wonderful cheeses with grassy aroma, that truly reminds me the surrounding fields, shiny red strawberries recently picked up in the morning from family run farms, baskets full of vibrant green broad beans, gooseberries in green and pink, blackcurrants, and last but not at least Dan the Fishman with his wide selection of locally collected fish and seafood. I was really surprised by the diversity, never though about England as a big fish eater nation, not even if they are surrounded by the sea actually.
On a hidden shelf of the Cheese shop I've just found the most valuable piece of the day, a local community edited cookbook: Devon on the plate. A selection of fantastic recipes made upon local ingredients, seasonal tips and not boring at all. Some serious inspiration follows.
They proved to me that all my previous preconceptions can be challenged. I wouldn't say they are not true, since a lot more onsight research still needed, but for the moment I'm trully convinced about the opposite. At least for 2 or 3 more days, I can't resist, I'm curious...
Fresh berries and fish are my best friend this week, so I've just recently made up a recipe, inspired by local ingredients such as gooseberry, mackerel and apple cider.
Mackerel Ceviche marinated in gooseberry juice on apple Cider jelly cubes

Ingredients ( for 4 persons)
500g fresh mackerel fillet
1 lemon, 1 lime, 1 orange
250g gooseberries
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 whole chili pepper - (the one you better like)finely chopped
1 ts of soft brown sugar
pinch of salt
fresh ground black pepper
2 tbs fresh coriander or parsley, rough chopped
200ml apple cider
6 gelatin sheet

First start with the cider jelly, that needs a little bit more time. Heat up the cider, till hand warm. Prepare the gelatin sheets according to it's own preparation instructions then add to the cider. Pour the mixture on a plastic tray - preferably the jelly should be 1-1,5 cm tall, and let it cool and become gelatinous firm.
Clean the gooseberries and bring them to boil in 100ml water. Gooseberries go soft very quickly, so after boiling it takes around 2-3 minutes. Let it cool, then put it in a blender. Pass it through a filter, so you can get rid of the useless seeds and fruit skin. Now you have a a fabulous summer scented juice to mix with lemon,lime and orange juice. Add the onions and coriander leaves as well, and finely sliced mackerel fillet. Finish with seasoning it with salt and pepper according to your taste. Let it cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Cut the jelly into small cubes (1x1cm). Arrange them on a plate and put on top the marinated mackerel.

This beautiful dish brings into light the quintessential freshness of fish. The fruit juices perform delightfully on the plate asking for more on the plate or whatever follows.
Title quoted from Dan the Fishman.

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