Tentatively out and about with Tony Goodman
10km is not too bad
Drawing a circle with a homemade protractor around the apartment, we’ve discovered a handful of interesting destinations. Places to stroll, views to take in and parklands. While the next few weeks will be somewhat repetitive, we intend to get out and about and enjoy our spring weather as best we can. Lac de Villeneuve-de-la-Raho with its wide walking trail around its shoreline is a favourite. We’ve found it best to get there early and take a camera.
The vines are emerging from their winter slumber. Within our permitted range, there are plenty of wineries to visit including Domaine LaFage. The LaFage family work hard to provide what the market demands. Soft round reds and whites perfect for our local seafood. Their tasting rooms are bright, well equipped and often feature works from local artists. Plenty of parking and plenty of English spoken. Two favourites of ours are their 100% Grenache Nicholas red and Centenaire white wine. A Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Rosanne blend perfect for a lunchtime grilled mackerel.
Restaurants are passé?
This week we had the most magnificent lunch with good friends we had not seen for some time. Blessed with uncluttered views of Canigou, we sat on their spacious terrace and enjoyed a meal prepared with care by a local restaurant. Spring sunshine, a gently breeze, good conversation and of course some fine local wine. Makes you wonder if we really need restaurants.
The Magic Flute is a perennial favourite; a simple tale which provides a broad canvass for innovative, imaginative staging bringing something fresh. The optics and staging of this production seems to contain elements of The Matrix, Grease, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
Perpignan station’s tourist trail
Over the past few weeks we have been recording various pieces for the multilingual narration on the architectural gems around Perpignan’s station. Reading the various pieces has opened our eyes to the prime examples of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Hausmann styles we have retained in the P-O. In other parts of France they have been pushed down to make space for modern pieces built with a view of the bottom line rather than art.
Intrigued by the discussion over Perpignan’s logo, I searched the net for the city’s history and stumbled across the most extraordinary tome. CASTLES AND CHATEAUX OF OLD NAVARRE AND THE BASQUE PROVINCES by BY FRANCIS MILTOUN (1907). A detailed academic study of the towns, city, castles and thermal stations of our region and our neighbours.
The illustrations, reproduced paintings and maps are an absolute delight. The text is very detailed yet easy to digest. Apart from describing lost architecture, it describes the area’s agriculture, industry and turn of the 20 century seaside delights. I’ll be on the lookout for a reasonably priced copy at Perpignan’s regular book markets.
Your fishmongers or dock side stalls are the only place to buy your mackerel. They need to be electric blue, bright eyed and firm. Don’t ask for it to be prepared if its not for immediate use, mackerel and similar fish start to deteriorate the instant the skin is breached.
Dress the table, open the wine and toss the salad. You want everything ready as the secret is serving the hot fish from the grill to the table.
Dress the fish including removing the gills. Snipping them out with scissors is the best method. Rinse extremely well under cold running water. Pack the cavity with celery leaves, lemon and plenty of salt. Turn the grill on, dial it all the way up. When its at full volume brush the fish lightly with olive oil and immediately slide them under the red hot grill.
The fish should start to blister almost immediately. It will only require a few minutes, The smell of hot oil, lemon and salt will tell you when to pull the fish out. The skin should be well blistered, charred but not burnt.
Dress with lemon juice and serve immediately. Accompany with a crisp dry white wine such as Dom Brial’s Château Les Pins Côtes du Roussillon Villages or Chateau de Rey’s Sisquo Blanc.