This weekend was mine and Rachel’s first surf trip of the year. The thought of this got me through my first week back to reality in the office. I (as I would imagine most people probably would) felt somewhat underwhelmed getting back to over 750 emails, all of which claiming to need URGENT attention!
Thankfully we’d planned for any post winter blues and decided to disappear off surfing at the earliest possible opportunity...
Rachel (bless her) has many and varied amazing talents - she's the consummate music guru to most of South-West London, a better surfer than me (not that that's hard!) and a hotty to boot... But, apparently recognising red traffic lights or deciding which exit to take from any of the many, MANY roundabouts between London and Barnstaple doesn’t appear to be high on the list of her accomplishments.
Becoming the neurotically nervous passenger in Rachel’s new “surfmobile” (named Coral or perhaps Jeff depending on who you’re talking to) wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for my weekend fun.
In hindsight, it's arguable that I had a fair point... As far as I can tell, running a red light because “there’s so much else to look at” just doesn’t cut the mustard when you’re pulled over by the police... I ended up repetitively yelling colour coded instructions in the run up to every... single... traffic light in the vicinity... Which made Rachel don this terrifying face of concentration - It's like something you'd normally expect to find in one of the Terminator films!
Hunching up in the middle of a hail storm as we strapped our boards onto Coral/Jeff – should have been our first clue that we weren’t on course for a particularly warm and cosy experience.
Clue number two should probably have been when everyone else in the car park was changing into winter wetsuits, gloves, boots and hoods: my peddle-pusher, ill-fitted, summer suit seemed like such a good idea at the time!
SOOOOO... COLLLLLDDDDDD... as in serious, ice-cream headache BRRRRRRRRRRRRR...
It is without doubt the coldest I have ever, EVER been (even if it did only last an hour)! But SO much fun!! We had to call it a day when I achieved an all new level of coldness and my arms refused to paddle any more...
Trying to get wetsuits off without being able to feel/move your fingers lent a whole new level of hilarity to the already farcical tradition of "the car park disrobe"...
Levi Roots’ Caribbean fish pie served up with his avocado and mango salad from this book was the taste of the tropical which we needed as a post-(baltically cold)-surf warm up! Predictably we had to condense his recipe slightly as we were in need of some serious eats, but it still tasted AH-MAISON...
Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
Warm the milk and the thyme leaves over a gentle heat until boiling point. Add the fish and turn off the heat, after five minutes remove the fish.
Melt 25g butter, add the flour and stir over a low heat. Gradually stir in the warmed milk (from poaching the fish). Stir in the creamed coconut until it dissolves into the white sauce. Season with salt, pepper, coriander and lime juice to taste. Stir in the spinach until it just begins to wilt. Gently stir in the fish so that it stays in bite-sized chunks.
Simmer the sweet potatoes for 8-10 minutes until soft enough to mash. Mash with 40g butter, and season with the nutmeg, allspice, and salt and pepper.
Place mixture in an oven proof dish, top with the mashed sweet potato and dot with the remaining butter. Cook for about 20 minutes until bubbling hot.
We served our fish pie with an avocado and mango salad.
Caribbean Fish Pie (serves 4-5)
1 sprig of thyme, leaves only
600g skinned haddock, cod or coley
50g creamed coconut
lime juice (to taste)
bunch of coriander, chopped
900g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Ground nutmeg (to taste)
1 pinch ground allspice
Avocado and mango salad (serves 4)
2 avocados, sliced
1 ripe mango, diced
2 little gem lettuces, separated into leaves
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and blanched in boiling water
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
Juice of 1 lime
(garnish with coriander leaves - optional)