Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A Short Note On Antibes Regatta, Lots Of Photos and Some Starch.

A dramatic lightening storm in Antibes

Jim, George and Tim watching the show, ready for rain.

It’s me. I’m back. And just so you know, I’m back in Cannes and have constant internet and a good while before our next regatta. So the recipes will be flooding your way very soon!

Right now though, a darkened room, air conditioning and pizza are just about all I can cope with. Since my last blog, Mariquita has race trained for 2 days, raced 4 days and I am exhausted.

But it was good. Great racing and great friends and Antibes is lovely (although the walk to the shops was a bit lengthy with a wobbly old trolley in all that heat).

Wooling sails on deck

Lots of sail changes equals lots of clearing up.
We came second overall! Well done us. We even won the first race which was amazing because we sat in a little wind-less hole for what felt like ten years and watched with flogging sails and growing anxiety as boats merrily sailed past in a fantastic little breeze. Let me tell you, when sailing is as frustrating as that, you may as well be playing golf (sorry golf lovers, I’ve tried but by the 6th hole, really I’m in such a bad mood, I may as well be sitting on a stationary boat in a race with no wind…).

The beautiful yacht, Cambria
Mariska won over-all and Cambria should probably have taken second place but she gives us so much time in the handicap system, she came third. Don’t worry, I won’t go into any detail to explain how this works (mostly because it doesn’t and it’s very, very dull) but put simply, we are all very different boats of different sizes, designs and weights, so to make the scoring a bit fairer, all the boats have a ‘rating’, which means that a bigger, faster boat gives a smaller, slower boat time. I don’t fully understand how they work it out and it certainly doesn’t always reflect a fair score but hey-ho, we know if we’ve had a good race and ‘won’ or not. We rate ourselves and don’t get too caught up in what the scoreboard says.

It was a week of not a lot of wind and big swelly seas. Mariska is lighter than Mariquita so she coped much better with the swell and light winds.  Cambria is a big, strong, Bermudan rigged 23 meter, so she careered through the course, miles ahead of everybody.
It is a beautiful sight to see so many classic yachts about to start their race, vying for the best position on the start line. And it’s an adrenaline fuelled moment when you’re a part of it. I really do have the best job in the world.

There was a bit of wind! But it was a squall that came through when we were out training.

I made the sandwiches myself for this regatta. No grated carrot and anchovy this time! My Chinese chicken wraps and smoked mackerel and prawn baguettes went down very well and in the absence of decent and sanely priced Cheddar in the South of France, French Cantal is a good substitute for the old favourite, cheese and pickle. And on the subject of food, and I guess due to this being a cooking blog, let me tell you about the celeriac, bacon and pine nut lasagne I made! 

Who’d have thought it? Well actually I did. But putting a starchy vegetable in amongst pasta can sometimes feel a bit wrong, like a chip butty or a potato pizza; both of which can be exceedingly good of course. I lived in Viareggio in Italy for a short while and occasionally I would visit a little pizza takeaway by the seafront and purchase a slice of their incredible potato and rosemary pizza to take home and eat with a nice cold glass of Pino Grig’. My mouth is watering at the memory.

Jim the captain leading the wooling of sails through the galley as I cook supper. I'm cool. I can cope with that.

But back to France, celeriac and pasta.  It works very well. Celeriac is quite a light starch with a great flavour not unlike celery, and goes very well with bacon. And that’s what was in the fridge. Whilst sitting on the side deck that day, trimming the reaching staysail I came up with the vague idea of putting it all in a lasagne with a balancing, creamy sauce and some fresh buffalo mozzarella. Again, mostly because that’s what I had in the fridge and there would be no time to shop that night after such a long race. (Quite frankly, couldn't be bothered).

The lasagne followed the same basic recipe as my kitchen-sink lasagne (from blog, A Glamerous Lunch In Cannes) with the grated courgette in there too, to bulk it out for 7 very hungry, tired chaps. I sautéed the sliced celeriac with the onions, in place of the potato from the kitchen sink lasagne, added some fennel seeds and instead of goats cheese, fresh buffalo mozzarella. I simply sprinkled sautéed bacon and pinenuts in amongst the layers with the white sauce, plenty of freshly grated nutmeg and a good topping of parmesan. I will definitely be making it again sometime. One to keep in the recipe memory banks.

One little note there for all you budding cooks. Never bother with buying pre-grated nutmeg. It smells alright but tastes of dust or absolutely nothing. It’s simple enough to buy the whole nutmegs and grate them in fresh. Really, it makes a huge difference.

So here we are, back in Cannes. It feels a bit like coming home, it’s got that sort of familiarity. I know where most things are now; the best shops, the best routes for a loaded trolley with rapidly deteriorating wheel bearings and most importantly, where to get great ice cream.

I hope I haven’t bored you with too much regatta-reminiscing again. Although they are very all-consuming and I do feel I should explain my absence. It does feel good for the soul to summarise it, so I thank you for reading if you made it to the end, skimming fully understood.

Getting the sails down quickly before the squall really hit.

I’ve got a great idea for my next recipe for you. Being surrounded here in France by cherry season is getting my desert juices flowing. I feel I need to do more baking, as I’m sure my crew do too. A little sweetness needed to sooth our aching muscles and tired bodies and plus I have a little time in which to bake the odd desert. The crew need a bit of spoiling I feel. I can be Mum. Bless ‘em.

So I’ll see you shortly. Stay tuned for the next, sweet addition of life at 33 Degrees.