Around and About with Tony Goodman
What a gorgeous summer we’re enjoying. Hot sun, warm tropical nights. Picasso blue skies, chilled white wine and spicy paella. Bright eyed BBQ ready dorade fresh from the local fleet. Mounds of moules swimming in white wine. Salty sardines under the grill. Bonito steaks and some of the sweetest local crevettes. Succulent grilled lamb ribs and feta rich salads. Platters of ancient tomatoes and olive oil. Fast fried veal escallops and thick rare entrecôte.
Early mornings at the beach where social distancing averages around 100 meters. Masks of silicon and glass not blue paper. Circling local lakes and étangs as the sun rises. Fresh baked croissants, buttered baguettes smothered with apricot jam. Icy cold fresh squeezed orange juice under café parasols and broad brimmed hats. Breakfast strength coffee. Heaven!
New Sunday Market
Perpignan’s Place Belgique has a very successful Thursday market. Fresh local produce, bread, wines and pasta. Butcher’s van, eggs and cheese. Busy without being crowded, it was an absolute godsend during the confinement. It now has a second market on Sunday morning. Fully masked we attended the inauguration with fine speech, ribbon cutting and live music. Being 9am, we declined the offer of sampling some no doubt fine local wines.
This year’s programme arrived in the letterbox earlier in the week and it looks good. 25th August to 18th October. Two performances in particular look useful, Gasy Jazz Project 3rd October at Alenya and The Rhizomes 16th October at Perpignan’s Municipal Theatre.
Over the summer, we’ve noticed a fantastic service provided by the life guards at Sainte Marie Plage for wheelchair users and those unsteady on their pins. At the Lifeguard station N° 1, they have laid a heavy non slip mat from the disabled parking space to the waters edge. At the waterline they have a chair with enormous yellow wheels. Aided by tow trained lifeguards the user simply transitions into the chair and the lifeguards gently push the aquatic chair into the water. No fees, no booking necessary.
Agatha is back
We’ve missed Hercule as he sleuthed about exercising his little grey cells while we exercised ours. After a brief hiatus, Agatha Christie is once again popping by after dinner on Thursday nights for an hour or so. Slowly unrolling a tale of dirty deeds as we work our way through the French and English text. This week it was all about footprints that were not there and South American cigarettes. I’ve no idea what’s going on, though its only Chapter 7.
While not exactly welcomed, as the car is still waiting for its wiper motor to be replaced, it was lovely to hear and smell the first rain for sometime. Washing dust from the streets, encouraging late season tomatoes and cleaning the air. The family of parakeets seemed especially pleased as they flit about and perch on the terrace. Listening to steady cooling rain overnight is viscerally soothing.
Madras fish curry – serves 4
Rick Stein is my food hero, pinched unashamedly from Rick Stein’s India (see below) this recipe is perfect for our current weather. The ingredients were reasonably easy to source however I had to adapt to local conditions so all and any shortcomings are mine. The tamarind, while it may need some research, is absolutely essential.
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- The recipe calls for 3 crushed garlic cloves, I used 2 large cloves of local pink Rose de Tarn
- 30 curry leaves, fresh if possible. Being impossible to source I used dried leaves and added a few extra
- The recipe calls for 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder. I didn’t fancy a trip to Kashmir so used mild chilli powder then added a dash of hot chilli sauce at the end to lift the heat level a fraction
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 400g can of chopped tomatoes. Use a good quality brand, no home brands please
Thinly slice two green chillies, I left the seeds in. Top and tail 3 large dorade then cut into steaks. Don’t discard the head and scraps, use them to make soup.
Make up 100ml tamarind water by soaking tamarind paste for an hour of so before using a fine strainer to separate the slightly sour liquid form the seed and flesh.
In a large frying pan or saucepan, fry the mustard seeds, onion, curry leaves in a small amount of good quality oil. Hold back the garlic for the moment.
After a few minutes add the coriander, tumeric, garlic and the green chilli. You may need to had a small amount of water to get the right consistency then simmer for a few minutes before carefully lowering the fish pieces into the mix.
Take care, you want the fish firm enough to hold its shape so don’t over cook it.