Monday, 20 June 2011

The Zest For A Long Walk

Ah, the joy of choosing the seats on an aeroplane in front of 2 energetic, restless-legged little girls. I’ll try to imagine I’m sitting in one of those massage chairs you get at selected hairdressers these days; it might be malfunctioning slightly but there’s something in it for me at least. Besides it’s only a 2 hour flight back to Nice from Standstead. I will live in hope that little ‘Polly’s’ technique improves or that she falls asleep very soon. George is fast asleep already. Even before the plane left the runway he was deep in the land of nod. Good for him though, he’s bouncing back and forth in tune to Polly’s little sister’s equally consistent leg-robatics and he’s blissfully unaware. Bless ‘im (said through slightly gritted teeth).

I love going home to the U.K. And I am little bit sad to be heading back to France. The reprieve from the heat was pretty good and all the usual things that come with staying in a real house like a whole big bathroom, a double bed, not having to share anything and everything with 7 other people. Pimms! And best of all, a real English country garden; chickens, geese and all.  On a walk this Saturday, I took pictures of sheep, cows, pigs, samphire, fields of corn, barley, cabbages and potatoes, butterflies, a bulging swarm of bees, oyster fishermen in old fishing boats and obviously the huge incentive; the pub we finally managed to drag our weary limbs into after we had trekked for 8 miles to get there. Good English pub following long muddy walk = low blood sugar, sore feet and guilt-free fish and chips all round please! Any sauces? All of them!

So back to France we go. My soul is soothed. (Though still taking a small beating from Miss little-pink-shoes behind me).

The boat is moving to Cogolin, near St Tropez and we’ll drive my little bashed up Reno Clio (the Rocket-Ship) to meet the boat and crew there. We’ll be at anchor for the next few weeks before heading to Barcelona for regatta number 3. I’m very excited about Barcelona. I’ve never been there but have heard so much about it. My Easy Jet ‘Traveller’ magazine is telling me to book tables at ‘Els Flogons de la Barceloneta’ for tapas, ‘Centonze’ for modern Catalan nosh and ‘Shunka’, for apparently the best of Barcelona’s Japanese food. No problems there, sounds good to me. I’m more than happy to try that lot out and if you have been and conquered Barcelona yourself, then any recommendations, food or otherwise will be gratefully received. Cheers!

Don’t worry folks, it’s not over yet.

I don’t have a recipe for you today I’m afraid. I almost made a stinging nettle risotto having trudged through a few miles of them, in a sort of ‘revenge’ meal with parmesan. But I was too tired and full from fish and chips. Terrific. What I will do though is tell you all about my favourite piece of kitchen equipment; my zester. Now do bear with me. You are about to be astonished at the way in which I will skilfully blend the topics ‘a trip to Suffolk’ and Barcelona in with ‘why you should buy a lemon zester’. Not everyone can find those sorts of hidden, literary connections you know. So moving smoothly on;

If you don’t have one, get one. The small grate on a box grater is rubbish, annoying, knuckle un-friendly and gives you silly little flecks of zest and the risk of too much pith which is bitter. A proper zester will fill you with joy at its perfect little curls of pure lemon zest. So pretty, so full of zing and…lemon. And why waste all the goodness in lemon zest? It’s full of incredibly healthy oils and vitamins. So if you are ever using the juice of a lemon, always zest it first. If you don’t want to use the zest for that exact dish then put it aside and use it for something else like in a salad or a salad dressing. Please never waste the perfectly good zest of any lemon or lime. Pop the zest in some olive oil, leave to infuse for a day or so and serve with pasta with lots of black pepper and bingo! An exceedingly light but tangy pasta to serve with a veal schnitzel or a lamb chop. I really won’t go on too much but need a garnish? Use your lemon zester! You can craft the most beautiful curls of pure lemon zest with a zester. You can’t with a box grater even if its one of those amazingly sharp, Japanese ones. A single curl of lemon zest perched on a small pillow of crème fraiche on a dainty smoked salmon canapé says so much don’t you think?

Lemon tart. The perfect example of why you should own a lemon zester. A lemon tart is only the best lemon tart when made with the finest and pithless-est zest. (Yes, that is a word). And you will achieve such culinary heights with your one and only - you’ve got it, Zester.
How would this dish have worked without perfect lemon zest?

I feel my work is done here. I’m sure you saw how that seamless bit of topic blending…blended.

I think we’re about to land so I will say goodbye for now and press the ‘save’ button. George has unfortunately been drawn reluctantly into an excitable game of peek-a-boo with Little Polly behind us which has brilliantly distracted her from kicking my chair. Thanks George. You’re forgiven from falling asleep earlier. And even though he is trying very hard to end the game with stern, manly face, he simply can’t ignore Polly and her little sisters’ enthusiasm for such a simple game.
Ah, to have such innocent zest for life.

(SEE! See what I did there?! Zest for life…Geddit?)


Samphire growing wild