Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cream teas in Devon

Devonshire teas in Ilfracombe, Devon - what could be more authentic? Well, the scones are good, the clotted cream fantastic and the jam pretty decent. St James Tea Rooms are friendly and welcoming.


Steamed sea-bass with potatoes and salad

Take Thyme restaurant in Ilfracombe is a friendly husband-and-wife run place with fresh seafood. The fish is fresh, but don't expect anything fancy done with it. The vegetables are just as plain and simple. For £14.95 and sea-bass with country-town rents I'd expected just a little bit more.

Risotto with asparagus, prawns and hand-shelled peas

No, I didn't shell the peas with my own hands, but I'm sure the underpaid migrant Polish worker did a good enough job. Asparagus, peas and shrimp were from Tesco but the rice is still from that expensive packet I bought ages ago.

I used a stock made with Marigold powder, with olive oil, butter, a small amount of onion and garlic as the flavour base.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Des Cadolor


Seagull feather
Pebbly beach
Crashing waves
Beneath my feet

Verdigris water
On the shore
Tumbles stones
And soothes my core

Tingling breezes
Touch my skin
A gentle kiss
Sent by the wind

Warm wet smells
Of driftwood rot
Find me rapt
Upon this spot

Soft-peak clouds
And lemon-ice sky
Its purple islands
Floating by

Rattle, clatter, rattle
Pebbles roll
Amidst the splash.

Des Cadolor - Intro

Although not food related, I had to post this here as MSN spaces are having teething problems with their migration to, argh.

I'm currently in Ibiza, Spain having a holiday away from my ex-boyfriend. It's been good for me. Today my friends took me Des Cadolor, possibly the most beautiful beach that I've ever been to and definitely the most beautiful in Ibiza. It was so inspirational I wrote a poem seeking to describe my experience sitting amongst the pebbles listening to the surf roll and rattle them around.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Pato Pekin - Santa Eularia, Eivissa (Ibiza)

This afternoon we eat at Pato Pekin, a Chinese restaurant in Santa Eularia. James in our dining party has a severe intolerance to MSG but our Spanish dining companions have never heard of it. They think this place has the best tasting food, maybe because they’ve not realised their Secret Ingredient. The waitresses don’t speak English so I try my halting Mandarin with them. It’s strange having Spanish spoken all around me but trying to converse in a language other than English. I try to explain what MSG is to the waitresses, finally succeeding with “Ajinomoto”. “Ah!” she exclaims, “Ah-hee-no-moto, wei jing,” she pronounces with a Spanish ‘J’ and a marked Beijing accent.

The food is well executed and tasty, if a little heavy handed with the soya sauce and MSG. The chef is not restaurant trained, but a skilled home cook. There are distinct Shanghai and Northern influences, but he’s obliged to make the more popular Cantonese style stir-fries – chop suey is also on the menu. The prices are decent and the set menus for one or two are particularly good value, hovering around €8 to 10 per person; otherwise a la carte dishes are between €9 and 14.

Club Sandwich

My first experience of Western food was a Club Sandwich. My father used to work for the Merlin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, it’s only 5-star hotel, and had accommodation there as part of his package. It was luxurious by Malaysia’s standards for that time – an actual suite with a living room and bedroom. Of course there was room service too; which was how I experienced these heights of Western decadence.

Sometimes on the few occassions we visited his suite my parents would order room service. The food would arrive on white plates with flat-top silver covers. We had such delicacies as omelette and Club Sandwiches. It was also the first time I tasted parsley – the ubiquitous in hotel food in the 80’s. I was told not to eat it as it was decoration. I persisted anyway and was surprised at its astringent taste.

We never lived at the suite, although I think we may have stayed one or two nights. I think my parents thought that a hotel was no place to bring up a child. My mother worked and so I used to stay with my grandmother who took care of me. I think the reason my parents did not live her much was because this was during a time when my parents were just about to buy a home that would house my mother’s immediate family: her two sisters, her brother and her parents. My father would still stay at his mother’s place as would my mother at hers.

For me the classic Club Sandwich is made with toasted white bread without crusts and cut into triangles. The filling may vary, but must always contain either bacon or smoked ham. Chicken may be permitted, but some sort of fresh component, e.g. lettuce or tomato is also vital. There must be three slices of bread in each sandwich, otherwise it’s just a fat sandwich, not a Club Sandwich. I’m sure there are other definitions about what makes a classic Club, but these are mine.

The BLT Club Sandwich at (£5.95) does not quite fit the ideal, although it was very delicious. The bread was toasted, albeit multigrain and with crusts and curved edges; only two slices of bread were used. The chips were marginally passable, i.e. cooked in fresh oil but not crisp or hot. I washed this down with a Giddy Giraffe (£3.50) smoothy made with papaya, mint and other tropical fruits.