Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Good Afternoon Newlyn

'First thing' became ‘nearly lunch time’ and our planned trip to Town to buy a replacement for the ageing Chinos that had failed me last night started late. The first and last shop we went to was Burton's and there it was that I discovered that there is no longer a 'standard fit' that I'll ever get in to. It took 3 changes of trousers of various descriptions to realise this. I don’t shop for clothes well and three changes were trying my patience. Why aren’t companies making trousers for men of my shape? I know it’s a sizable market because I see them in pubs wherever I am. How hard are short and pot belly sized trousers to make?
I eventually left Burton's in a pair of jeans 2 inches larger in the waist than my M&S Chinos and 2 inches longer in the leg to boot. As we walked down a damp Market Jew Street I realised that the legs were far too long to be practical. We swung left down New Street prompted by an ‘A’ board inviting us to an ‘All Day Breakfast’, then left again into Princes Street for a 'proper' breakfast which we found at Country Cousins Café (there’s bound to be a story behind that name). The Café is a wonderfully traditional cafe serving everything with chips, toast or fried bread and pots of tea.
The search for a seamstress began following breakfast and was concluded when Wonder Web was purchased in the Sewing and Craft shop where we'd enquired after a seamstress. Quick bit of shopping in the Co-op and back to the 'self-catering' to iron in the Wonder Web ready for our day's adventure (Coronation Street on TV and is winding me up).
Plan - get to The Fisherman's Arms before the forecast rain arrived. The reason I wanted to visit The Fish, as the regulars have it, was that I had met a man from Newlyn called Perren in The Coeur de Lion in Bath and had been advised to visit the pub and say ‘hello’ to Brian his father.
It was a pleasant walk we took down the back lanes to the Boating Pond before strolling along the seawall into Newlyn, past The Tolcarne Inn, through the village past the fish docks and up the hill towards Mousehole. The Fisherman's Arms is a revelation of local community togetherness.

Quite apart from the atmosphere the beer was the trustworthy Trelawney and Proper Job from St Austell Brewery. Closed from 4-6 Monday to Thursday 'out of season' it was a delight as every conceivable inappropriate comment could be squeezed out of today's Daily Mail. Raw and hilarious, we and the pub were in stitches. 4 o'clock came too soon and as we left, the rain established itself for our walk back to The Red Lion.

Its only 50 yards way and we were already wet as we entered. We were customers 2 and 3 and ordered Addlestones Cider and Dartmoor Brewery's Jail Ale. After acquainting ourselves with the pub cat (Milo?) and this week’s copy of The Cornishman we started back toward Penzance. A quick detour left off the main road took us through a collection of lanes, unreachable with Google Earth, which proved to be a delight to us both, before coming out by the Swordfish Inn. Across the road and thoughts of chips entered our conversation, ”If I can see a 'chippy' from over here we'll nip back for some”. Alas the wooden buildings by the Fisherman's Mission obscured my view back up The Strand. Turning and walking back toward the Penzance road there it was in all its delicious signage, 'Fish and Chips'.
The smell of fresh cooking oil and batter met us as we entered. At the top of the Menu on the wall was Fish of the Day £3.70. As soon as we were asked, I quickly responded with "Fish of the Day please, with Chips". "What fish?" the girl replied. "Fish of the Day" I repeated. I didn't mind what it was but after a dig in the ribs I realised there was a choice. We could have had Scallops or John Dory and even Lemon Sole 'huge ones'. Embarrassed I chose the Lemon Sole. Once it was cooked and packed with salt and vinegar we left the shop with several “Cheerios”'. The rain was coming down in buckets as we walked back round by The Tolcarne Inn toward the seawall I tore open the paper wrapping the food and we got stuck in to beautiful chips. After a few mouthfuls and while the rain began to wick its way up our trouser legs we grinned at each other and walked on. Having made some space in the styrene tray, the golden batter on the sole was beckoning. With an inviting crunch the batter gave way to the most delicious Lemon Sole I have ever eaten. It just oozed essence of sea with every bite of the soft white flesh. Soaked and in taste heaven we smiled our way along the seawall toward the bottom of Alexandra Road.
We didn’t dawdle once the last of the food had been devoured and the rubbish was stuffed into the bin at the bottom of Alexandra Road. Hurrying now, in our soggy trousers we puffed and panted our way back up the lanes to Morrab Road and on round to the ‘self-catering’
The kettle went on as soon as we could get across the living room without tramping rain across the carpet.
Wasn't that a day and a half!!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Slow Cooked Beef Brisket in a Dark Ale

This little treat came to me when I was thinking about a 'winter warmer' in The Raven of Bath one evening over a few pints. I'd recently been experimenting with Fennel, since Russell Ham at the Devon and Cornwall in Millbrook, Cornwall had introduced me to the deep flavour that adding Tarragon could give to Beef and Onion Stew. I chose Fennel for the same aniseed like  flavour that Tarragon has and the similarity in structure to Celery that would add to the vegetable bulk. When Fennel is out of season I'd use Parsnips and a good quantity of Fennel Seed roasted and ground.

So here it is, Slow Cooked Beef Brisket in a Dark Ale, takes 2 days to produce and serves loads of people.

I bought a piece of Brisket from the butcher In Green Street ready rolled that cost about £16 and at about £7 per Kg must have weighed just over 2Kg which is about 5lbs in 'old money' . When I got it home the first thing I did was untie it and lay it flat; I wanted to see how large a pan I was going to use. What I wanted to achieve was to have the beef cook slowly on top of a thick bed of vegetables and stock. I found it was going to need my largest deep (6cm) roasting tin. I filled the tin to about 4cm with equal parts of Carrot, Onion and Fennel cut to about a half inch (12mm) dice. The tin then took about a pint and a half of rich dark ale, one of the following would suit - Plain Ales, Inncognito; Stonehenge , Old Smokey ; Wooden Hand, Black Pearl; St Austell, Black Prince.
Next I heated my largest frying pan 'til it smoked and placed the brisket fat side down in it and left it to crisp up (ruined the Teflon - getting a Green Pan next). Turning the brisket to ensure that all the edges and the back were partially sealed took 2 pairs of tongs, and it was bit of a struggle to get it into the roasting tin on top of the vegetables. I topped the whole lot of with a liberal quantity of fairly course ground pepper and a scattering of Thyme sprigs.

Now the easy bit; seal the roaster with a double layer of foil and make sure there's a little space above the meat and the edges are crimped tight. Put in a warm oven and cook for eight hours on Gas Mark 'a half' (130°C).

Once the cooking has been completed, remove the roaster from the oven, take off the foil and remove the brisket which will fall apart without care. Place it on a sheet of foil and wrap it tightly and set aside to cool before putting it in the fridge. Separate the vegetables and stock and allow to cool before chilling overnight.

The following day I separated off half of the vegetables and combined them with the stock in a liquidiser to produce a rich sauce. Now that the meat had chilled it can be carefully cut into thick slices and placed in a dish on a bed of some of the remaining vegetables and covered in the sauce for reheating in an oven while potatoes are roasting. There will be loads of beef left and it's great in rolls or baguettes with horseradish sauce. Enjoy, it's well worth the time and effort.