Cubed, shnoodlepooped, and hit by a train…

Colin Loves Dotty

Colin Loves Dotty

Hitting Monday reality after a beer weekend like Birmingham Beer Bash is like driving full-speed into a brick wall of disappointment in a vehicle of shattered hopes. Beer makes the world so much of a brighter place, and massive beer nerd love-in events like Birmingham Cubed are a totally crazy trip, but with the hardest of come-downs. I’m sitting here thinking of all the beers I didn’t get to try, all the folk I didn’t get to talk to, the post-event analysis is churning away in the back of my head and I can’t even sleep.

I did Saturday. Both the arvo and evening sessions. Though stretched out across not-too-many beers thanks to a lot of food and talking. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful venue – with just enough outdoor space to allow enjoyment of the weather, but without relying on the outdoors so that when it did finally chuck it down in the evening everyone could stand under-cover in some comfort. Venue: totally repeatable. The different “rooms” of the space added character, the canal interest, and while it initially seemed a bit “out of town” on the map it really was just a stroll from New Street.

Parfait & Maisels Weisse

Parfait & Maisels Weisse

On the Saturday evening Kat and I were booked into the beer-matched dinner. That’s my kind of thing really. The “match of the dinner” was Maisels Weisse with some banana parfait thing. (Peanut Butter Parfait, Caramelised Banana, Caramel Sauce.) Seems an obvious one – but usually the obvious ones are the ones that work the best. Otherwise I wasn’t too impressed by the matches. Purity ales are great – but I just wouldn’t really bother much with pairings of golden ale and best bitter types of beers with food in general. Finishing with Sierra Nevada stout and good Cheddar: great! But why not a British beer? The same goes for the Maisels really – a good match, but while a British weizen can be difficult to find – they do exist.

The food itself was outstanding. Simpsons are now on my “gotta go there one-day” list. Interestingly the dinner didn’t seem to be populated with many from the beer-nerd crowd, all the folk at our table were more food-led than beer-bashers. This made the conversation a little difficult at times – and I also feel they might not have got the best experience of the whole food + beer thing alas. But, perhaps I’m being too critical – I’m a step removed from reality in these things. None of the pairings were actively wrong, it’s merely that the beer was entirely overshadowed by the food in most cases. That said, the dude from Purity Ales talked a good talk, and was zipping around the room chatting to people about beer and food – and, importantly, it looked like everyone in the room enjoyed the event. The meal ended with the two best pairings and thus should have left everyone with a good impression of fine dining + fine beer as a “concept”.

Shnoodlepip

Shnoodlepip

Beer of the festival: Shnoodlepip. Not my thing at all. Almost awful – but not so bad I couldn’t drink all of my third of a pint whilst thoughtfully dissing it. I’ve had a handful of these “sour” beers this year that seem a bit off to me. I love a good sour beer, but this wasn’t it – I don’t want a dash of malt vinegar in a beer. It’s “pongy”. Yet it was brewed by Wild Beer Co, Kelly Ryan, and Mark Tranter. Basically beer nerd fairydust. So therefore it must be good and it is a sin to think otherwise? I pick it as my beer of the fest because it is the one still in the front of my mind a day later. It is challenging, it really probably isn’t a good representation of this whole “craft” thing. You’ve got a bunch of “craft wankers” (like myself) setting expectations sky high over a specific beer (everyone wanted to try it) and the beer itself is a bit wrong and twisted. I wish I’d been able to talk to more people about this beer while I was at the Bash as now here I sit thinking “what’s wrong with me”. But oh well… otherwise I think I’ve loved every Wild Beer Co ale I’ve supped. Redwood is right up my alley, it’s got the right funk. With that in mind: others think the funk that I like is utterly disgusting in a beer.

Is it ever right to say a beer is bad? Is it analysis, or is this a thing more like art – where a sort of cult culture can transcend the reality in your mouth. Fuck, this is too complicated for 6AM on a Monday.

ANYWAY. It’s all over now, it sounds like the Birmingham beer Bash was somewhat of a success so if the suffering of running such an event again isn’t too daunting to the organisers then  we can hope to see it again next year. If it does happen again: GO. For an ambitious first-time independent beer festival run mainly by enthusiasts (rather than industry folk) B3 came together amazingly well. Good beer, good food, no daft boundaries. Oh – and damn good people too. Never forget the people… because that’s what this is all about really isn’t it? Beer brings us together, inspires conversation, and breaks down barriers.

Beer can also make us feel like we’ve woken up dead after being hit by a train. A harsh mistress indeed. [Update: No, now I’m suspecting a touch of food poisoning… not at all well today.]

 

L’enclume

Gallery

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Wow, a “two star” restaurant. I tend to avoid such things, I’m a perpetual shorts-and-t-shirt wearing scruffy type, sneakers & jeans are a “dressing up” alternative to shorts and sandals. Michelin stars tend to come with stuffiness and arrogance, at … Continue reading

Beer–Matched Festive Vegetarian Dinner

This is a much belated write–up of 2011’s festive feast. It has become a habit of mine to host a dinner for folk who’re otherwise orphaned in the UK, it is a great excuse to go the extra mile in preparing and presenting great food. With, of course, the inclusion of great beer!

I have a growing tendency to be sympathetic towards vegetarians. Animal welfare concerns me greatly, I like to know that any animal that has died for me hasn’t been mistreated (including in, and after, death). However it is pretty much impossible to guarantee this and still willingly consume animal products — including eggs, milk, and cheese. If your concern is strong enough then “going veggie” is a laudable sacrifice to make in the name of animal welfare. These days I no longer make fun of vegetarians, refer to them as cattle, or try to convince them that chicken is a vegetable — well, not often. If I have a vegetarian around for a meal I always have something appropriate prepared, so for 2011 I decided: why not try going the whole hog! (Or no hog at all, as was the case.)

I also like trying to match beers to the dishes I prepare, so this brings about the second theme of this dinner: beer matching. Hopefully with vegetarian–friendly beers. (I checked and I’m pretty sure all the beers on the menu involved only the death of yeast cells & other micro–organisms.)

All in all I think both the full–vegetarian festive feast and the beer matching was a success. With my highlight being the mushroom tordelli dish matched with Hardknott Queboid. It looked and tasted stunning!

As for the festive element? Well, the dinner was held between Christmas and the new year so I tried to “festivize” it a little. Use of chestnuts, colours in the salads, spices in the pie — just light touches really. I haven’t prepared full recipes for any of the dishes, as I just didn’t have time and keeping track takes a bit of the fun out of the cooking. Consider this a TV–chef Christmas–show style of thing, where they show you an amazing array of food and an insufficient amount of information to replicate it.


Soup
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Chestnut & Celeriac Soup with Saffron & Carraway Sodabread Crostini and a Roast Garlic & Chestnut Puree

Beer: Summer Wine Brewery ∼ Kahuna, NZ IPA

Chestnut & Celeriac Soup, Chestnut & Garlic Purée, Summer Wine Kahuna NZ IPA

The soup was inspired by one in the 2011 River Cottage Christmas show. Hugh prepares a chestnut & sage soup which sounded rather good and I liked the coffee–cup presentation. I love celeriac and decided to add some into the soup. Before serving the soup is warmed on the stove and a generous addition of crème fraîche is made to achieve a more desirable colour and consistency.

Sodabread is great if you need bread in a hurry. In this case the bread was leftovers, it was made the day before using milk in which a pinch of saffron threads had been soaked and a generous addition of caraway seeds. The leftover bread was cut into centimetre thick slices which were put into a low oven for 30 minutes to make them crisp.

I love the rich sweet flavour of roasted garlic cloves, the same pretty much goes for chestnuts. An equal quantity of garlic and steamed chestnut was “whizzed” in a small food processor with added olive oil to achieve the desired consistency. Grated mature goats cheese and salt were added to–taste as well.

Serve as shown in the photo!

The beer match in this case was picked to be something zesty and uplifting, a modern BritIPA seemed in order with NZ hops providing the uplift: Summer Wine’s “Kahuna” NZ IPA. It worked, much as a dry yet rich white wine would in the context.


Entrée
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Mixed mushroom and local “Wobbly Bottom” mature goat cheese tordelli in herbed butter with a hint of truffle. Served with festive salad of julienne snow peas, red pepper, and celeriac.

Beer: Hardknott ∼ Queboid, BelgianStyle Double IPA

Mushroom Tordelli, Festive Salad, Hardknott Queboid

Quite the looker this dish, and very easy to prepare if you have the confidence to make up a bit of pasta dough. The pasta is a typical egg pasta, rested for a couple of hours and then rolled through a pasta machine.

The filling is a simple fry–up of onion, a medely of mushrooms from the supermarket (chestnut, oyster, enoki — for example), and butter. When the onion and mushroom is nicely caramelising add crushed garlic, sizzle a little then add a splash of stock. Finally grate in plenty of mature goats cheese to create a sticky, stringy, mess. I also added a sneaky dash of truffle oil at the end.

Make up your tordelli (just big tortellini) and pop them into boiling water for just about 2 or 3 minutes when you’re ready to serve. Don’t overcrowd in the water, if doing them in batches have a warmed and lightly oiled plate handy to place them on with a bit of plastic wrap handy to put over them.

The herbed butter was made up in advance with a selection of herbs from the garden (oregano, parsley, garlic chives, rosemary — in approximate order of amount added) and a little garlic. I keep a stick of this in the freezer. Melt, but do not sizzle, a good medallion of butter per serve in a fry–pan, gently toss the tordelli in the melted herb butter and serve into warmed bowls sharing the butter out as a drizzle over each bowl. Do the drizzle at the last second, just before serving.

The salad is a colourful combination of briefly blanched snow peas, raw red capsicum, and raw celeriac. Tossed in a little lemon juice and a dash of oil.

Queueboid was picked for its richness and Belgianesque earthy tones, a nice complement to the mushroominess of this dish. The beer’s non–Belqianesque hoppy bitterness prevents the combination from being too heavy.


Main
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Warm–spiced homegrown pumpkin, toasted walnut, & local “Wobbly Bottom” soft goat cheese flan, topped with caramelised red onion.

Beer: Magic Rock ∼ Rapture, Red IPA

Pumpkin Flan, Magic Rock Rapture

We had a couple of little pumpkins in the back garden, a far–from–bumper crop from a couple of vines we’d let ramble around under the apple tree. I cannot recall the exact variety, just something we got in a free packet of seeds once. In my opinion pumpkin really needs to be roasted to get the best value out of it, roasting intensifies the flavour and sweetness of the pumpkins. So in this case they were simply cut into chunks, drizzled with a little cooking oil, and popped into a 180°C oven with a scattering of rosemary until soft. Right at the end I turn the oven up to about 250°C until black/brown crusty bits start to form on the corners of the pieces.

To be honest I can’t remember exactly what went into the flan filling, the pumpkin would have been mashed and heated in a large pot. To this I would have added any/all of: softened brown onion, a couple of handfuls of toasted walnuts, a dash of veggie stock to loosen the mix up if needed; plus grated nutmeg, ground corriander, salt, pepper, etc “to taste”. I’d have a teaspoon handy to sample the mix as I built it up and I just stop when I’m happy. I probably threw in some fresh chopped parsley too. Right at the end before putting the flan in the oven I’d have gently stirred through the crumbled soft goats cheese. In this case from Hitchin’s local Wobbly Bottom farm and picked up either at their market stall of Halsey’s Deli.

The flan topping is simply caramelised red onion. The important thing when caramelising onion for a job like this is to do it slowly in a big open frypan. The browning of caramelisation should be from a slow reduction of the water content and not burning of the onion. Start off with just a little oil and after 5 to 10 minutes when the onion is looking translucent and tacky sprinkle over just a little salt to draw more moisture out. Keep going until the onions are seemingly candied and lightly browned. If you want add and melt in a little brown caster sugar near the end for extra caramelly goodness.

To avoid making this dish too heavy I’ve skipped the usual crusty flan casing and used instead about 3 sheets of melted–butter–brushed filo pastry. The pastry is cut into squares then placed in the flan tin at angles to each other to form a sort of star. Carefully press into the flan tin (the pastry breaks easily, so this is more an action of gentle folding) and fill with the hot pumpkin mix from the stove. Top with the caramelised onion and a scattering of pumpkin seeds and a grating of a hard mature goats cheese. Into a oven at about 200C with this and bake just until the edges of the pastry are a deep goldenbrown. This won’t take long, don’t take your eyes off it!

We’re done. This is best presented on the table as a whole, perhaps with a final extra grating of the hard mature goats cheese on top.

A side–dish of quinoa was served alongside this. Dressed in a drizzle of oil and balsamic and tossed with a finely diced version of the festive–colour salad used in the tordelli dish with the addition of toasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds.

The beer match is a red hoppy ale. A red–IPA perhaps, or even a rye–PA? ;) In my case the scrumptious Magic Rock “Rapture” a rich, but not sweet, hoppy ale which I think held up well in the role of washing down the robust pumpkin flan.


Dessert
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Layered vanilla & wasabi white chocolate semifreddo mousse, with a rich wild berry coulis.

Beer: Brewdog ∼ Prototype 17, Whisky Cask & Raspberry Aged Lager

Vanilla & Wasabi Semifreddo, Poached Pear, Berry Coulis, BrewDog Prototype 17

White chocolate… I hate the stuff. But it makes an OK mousse, and that mousse makes for a very good semifreddo. The template here is simply to make chocolate mousse the way my mum makes it. I should write down my (probably inaccurate) version of the recipe some day as it is always popular. The difference here is the use of white chocolate instead of dark chocolate. The mousse flavouring is made by melting chocolate in some butter with a dash of brandy. Into this chocolate sauce the yolks of some number of eggs are blended (simply because it is something to do with them). Finally flavourings are added. In this case the mix is divided into two and one has a few generous teaspoons of real wasabi powder added and the other a dash of vanilla essence. Whip cream until smooth and thick, whip the whites of the eggs from the above until stiff, carefully fold the two together. Split into two bowls and carefully fold in the chocolate mix. Sorry this is entirely inadequate as a recipe! It is something I “just do” and (almost always) it works well.

If you want perfect layers then this needs to be split into three stages, making the mix each time and placing into a tin after the previous layer has set. I’m impatient and imperfect however so I do it all at once. Line loaf tins with plastic film and carefully pour the mixture in in three layers with the wasabi layer in the middle. Put the tins in the freezer.

The coulis was made using wild blackberries from nearby hedgerows and “wild”/alpine strawberries from our garden. About 200g of berries are placed in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt, a dash of brandy, and a tablespoon of caster sugar. Heat is applied until the berries are pretty much totally mush. The mix is strained through a course sieve into a bowl and then through a very fine sieve back into the cleaned saucepan. Simmer until the desired thickness is achieved and then chill.

Where did the pear come from? It is simply a pear poached in red wine and warm spices (stick of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, etc). I had these sitting in the fridge at the time and they became an impromptu addition to the plate. It rounded the dessert off quite well I felt.

The beer is another hit of berry, a crisp lager–y sort of thing from BrewDog called “Prototype 17″. It’s aged in whisky barrels with the addition of some raspberries. Served well chilled alongside this dessert it cut through the richness of the semifreddo mouse and complemented the berry flavours.


ENDE
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That’s it! All in all I was very happy with this foray into producing a festive vegetarian dinner. With food like this I suspect I could even survive as a vegetarian myself, maybe. Well, probably not. Next step is vegan? No… that really is a step too far. Anyway, I hope the above can provide some inspiration to any others endeavouring to produce tasty courses for the vegetarians lurking amongst us, doubly so if you’re keen on beer. To the best of my knowledge all the beers served above are also fully vegetarian–compatible. (Many beers aren’t!)
Of course it isn’t a festive feast without a final tipple and a biscuit..
Orkney Dark Island Reserve and Gingerbread House

3 Good Things: Pasta, Smoked Salmon, Egg

This recipe has been devised in response to Hugh’s “Three Good Things“ challenge. I am, of course, endeavouring to add beer as a sneaky fourth “good thing”. I’m adding it as a subtle addition — much the way the chefs in the TV episodes will gladly include brilliant oils, vinegars, stocks, and herbs without giving them a headline credit.

Who doesn’t have a collection of dried pasta in the cupboard? Starting with a bag of dry pasta a variety of starchy dinners can be ready in about 15 minutes. Butter and garlic. Mushroom and bacon. Grilled vegetables and chopped tomato. Always a grating of pecorino romano or similar. An endless list of simple favourites… however I’m taking a different tack: pasta salad! Perhaps it is a bit naff? I’m going to try to avoid the soggy gloopy sort of salad you may buy in the supermarket when you’re in a hurry and really bring my three ingredients together in a perfectly balanced taste sensation. Well, that’s the plan.

Beer Mayonnaise

This is the hardest part, but I assure you making a quick mayonnaise is dead easy really. I prefer to stick to a recipe that uses two or three yolks, as I find a whole egg usually produces more mayo than I ever need. Using just yolks also gives you a nicely warm coloured mayonnaise. This is also where I’m adding my sneaky dash of beer, I’m using an incredibly zesty, hoppy golden ale for this that adds an intriguing zing to the flavour. There are many such ales around these days as the style is very popular. I’m using Revival from Moor Beer Company, it’s a great beer and this year it won the “beer of the festival” award at a CAMRA beer festival I help out at (I order the beer!) The Moor brewery is located in Somerset and Justin, the owner and brewer, takes special pride in producing seriously flavourful beers with a focus on naturalness and freshness. Anyway, on the the recipe…

Mayo IngredientsIngredients

  • yolks from 3 small, or 2 large eggs — deeper the colour the better!
    • mine come from a stand out the front of a house just up the road
  • “sufficient” light flavoured oil
    • I ended up using about 220g of plain sunflower oil
  • 50g extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil
    • I’ve used rapeseed oil from our nearby Coveney Farm
  • 2 tsp vinegar
    • cider or white wine is best
  • some hoppy golden ale
    • I’ve used about 5 tbsp of Moor Beer Company’s “Revival”
    • You could tweak this by using different sorts of beers too, a rich double-IPA would work well too I think.
  • ground white pepper— to taste
    • about 5 pinches in my case (just a tiny bit of what’s in the photo!)
  • salt— to taste
    • about 3 pinches in my case (just a tiny bit of what’s in the photo!)

Separate the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and, whisking continuously, gradually drizzle in the 50g of flavourful oil. When done whisk in the vinegar. Then continue with a drizzle of the lighter oil until you have a very thick mayonnaise that will form peaks, wobble a little when tapped, and stick to a spoon held upside down, etc. Whisk in beer a tablespoon at a time until a thick creamy texture is achieved, akin to a thick salad cream.

A helping hand is useful! Sticks to a spoon...

Add beer a tablespoon at a time... Until a loose creamy consistency is achieved...

Finally add in white pepper and salt to taste, be conservative with the salt at this stage as the smoked salmon in the salad will be quite salty already. The flavour was pretty good, with a definite beery and hoppy hint to it. I’d be interested to try this again with something with more body, the Moor Hoppiness perhaps or a BrewDog Hardcore IPA.

Egg and Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad

Salad ingredients

  • 1 pack of fusilli cooked, drained and cooled
    • very important that this is “al dente” or your pasta salad will be a soggy mess
  • mayonnaise (from above)
    • Add as much as you feel is sufficient. I used it all… but it was probably a little too much. Any leftover mayo could be used another day. It would probably be excellent with some beer battered fish.
  • 1 small red onion — very finely chopped
    • half a larger onion in my case
  • 1 small garlic clove — chopped and crushed to nearly a paste
  • 200g of sliced smoked salmon— roughychopped
    • if you can find them smoked salmon “pieces”, aka “offcuts”, are just as good and often much cheaper
  • 4 boiled eggs — cut into 8ths or 12ths
  • 3 spring onions — finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of parsley — finely chopped

When I cook a pasta like fusilli I boil it in loads of water with a generous dose of salt, but I don’t bother with oil in the water (it never seems to do anything but make the pan harder to clean). When cooked I turn it out into a colander, drain well, drizzle with rapeseed oil, and toss until the pasta is evenly oiled. Set it aside to cool to room temperature, you can then refrigerate it for later if desired. In fact this is a recipe I’d typically prepare from last night’s leftover pasta.

Reserve a few prettier bits of boiled egg, some pinches of chopped parsley, a couple of tablespoons of green chopped spring onion, and a few bits of smoked salmon for garnish. Combine everything else except the mayonnaise in a bowl, use your hands to ensure the smoked salmon is well broken up and distributed.

Finish off by using a large spoon to stir through the mayonnaise, ensuring everything is well coated. Move the salad to a presentation bowl, scatter over the reserved garnish ingredients, and complete with a sprig of fresh parsley. Done! This will fill the bellies of about 4 hungry people, or stretch to 6 with some sides, or 8 or more if provided as a side-dish.

Yum!

Serve with a a glass of the zesty golden ale used in the mayo. This is a beaut summer brunch on a lazy Sunday morning, or late lunch for the lazier. To make more of a meal of it serve as a salad alongside something grilled on the BBQ — salmon steaks perhaps?

When I do this again, which I certainly will, I’ll probably add something else to just lift it up a bit. Some roughly chopped capers perhaps, or gherkin. It could do with a little extra *zing*.

3 Good Things: Sea Bass, Cavolo Nero, Roast Peppers

This recipe has been devised in response to Hugh’s “Three Good Things“ challenge. I am, of course, endeavouring to add beer as a sneaky fourth “good thing”. I’m adding it as a subtle addition — much the way the chefs in the TV episodes will gladly include brilliant oils, vinegars, stocks, and herbs without giving them a headline credit.

Almost didn’t get one in this week. Busy busy, and Saturday consumed by a very–unfishy venison–oriented day entertaining guests. However, one of the great things about fish is you can knock up something exquisite super-fast. So here’s my quick Sunday dinner…

I’ve picked my other two ingredients on both colour and flavour. With the deep green of the cavolo nero and the bright yellow and red of the peppers this creates a striking plate of food. The light flavour, seaweedy texture, and slight bitterness of the cavolo nero are near-opposite to the rich sweetness of roasted peppers (of which a little really does go a long way). The sweet/bitter combination compliments the lightly-oily creamy texure of sea–bass, which I have taken up another notch by adding a bit of smoke to it in the BBQ. To offset all this I’ve added a light zesty beer in the form of a German-style Weizen… in my quest to stick to British beer though I have picked one from Manchester’s Marble Brewery. This weizen has quite a light rendition of the typical coriander/orange/banana notes and a slight tartness akin to a twist of lemon juice.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 Sea Bass
  • 300g cavolo nero
  • 1 red & 1 yellow pepper – or pre–roasted equivalent
    • This is one thing I just can’t get used to, back home we call it a “capsicum”… and even after 6 years “pepper” continues to feel confusing and wrong. I’m fine with “aubergine” though (as opposed to “eggplant”).
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • handful of fennel fronds
  • 4 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • A German-style wheat beer, aka weizen
    • I’ve used the Weizen from Marble — a brewery in Manchester
    • Something more sour could be even better, such as a lambic or geuze, but it is very difficult to get your hands on a British one. This style is only just starting to get some attention amongst UK brewers.

You can buy roast pepper, but I usually do my own on the BBQ. Simply place whole peppers over the flame, rotating now and then until part-blackened on all sides. Put aside in a dish covered with foil. When cooled you can simply rub the charred skin off and slice into strips.

Pre-blanch the cavolo nero. I’ve stripped it off the stems, simmered it for 4 minutes, let cool in a colander, then squeezed much of the water out by hand. You will have a hand–compressed lump of cavolo nero now, simply cut this into about 5mm slices and set aside for “the last minute”.

I’ve prepared a herbed–butter by grinding up 2 cloves of garlic, a few twists of pepper, and a couple of fronds of fennel in a pestle and mortar. When pasted I’ve added a couple of tablespoons of soft butter and thoroughly mixed the lot together.

The sea bass should be scaled and gutted but otherwise whole. I prefer the look of a whole fish, it seems a bit sad to serve up the poor creature beheaded. The head also contains some tasty morsels of flesh — sea bass chaps anyone? Make some cuts in the sides of your fish, then rub the fish down with a generous grinding of salt. Next rub the herbed butter all over the fish and into the cuts, pop a knob of butter inside the fish as well, reserve about a quarter of the butter for later. Also into the belly cavity stuff some more fronds of fennel, a crushed garlic clove, and a couple of bay leaves.

Buttered Bass

You now have several options open to you for cooking your fish. Simply pan-fried? Baked in a hot oven for 15 minutes? Or for the hurried: wrapped in foil on a bed of cavolo nero, roast pepper on top, add a splash of weizen then into a hot oven for 25 minutes — slide onto a plate and enjoy.

I’ve taken the plain baking approach, sort–of. My BBQ gets very hot inside with the lid down, near to 300C at peak. So I’ve heated the BBQ up full–bull and onto a hotplate spread some pre–soaked smoking chips. Lid down again and await the moment they begin to produce some smoke, then pop the sea bass right on top of the chips. Lid down again, wait 15 minutes, remove, brush off any woodchips stuck to the skin. Done!

Fish on...

(Yes, I am quite happy to do a bit of BBQing outside while everything is covered in frost. I’ve BBQed in the snow too!)

Fish done!

Now it is “the last minute”. Place the cavolo nero in a small pan and add about a quarter of a cup of weizen and toss this while heating just to the point that it simmers … now melt in the retained herbed butter and turn off the heat.

Cavolo Nero in weizen

Onto a warmed plate place a bed of cavolo nero, onto this place a sea bass, drape with strips of roast pepper, drizzle with the buttery–weizen from the cavolo nero pan. Serve!

Dinner time, with a nice cool glass of weizen! We enjoyed our sea bass dinner with a side of leftover cous–cous salad and a home–baked bap.

Serve!