The rose-like artichoke
Sleep with the fishes...
For this private dinner I decided to produce a theatrical meal, food that involves labour on the part of the diner as well as the cook.
Paul of Riverford Organics delivered globe artichokes, plucked fresh from the field that morning. Artichokes are a member of the thistle family. It took some time to trim the prickly leaves and steam 30 of them, so I got up at 5am to tackle this workload. Artichokes are one of my favourite foods, an aphrodisiac they say, and they contain a compound called Cynarin which enhances the sweetness of other foods. It's a kind of miracle fruit. If you eat artichoke then drink plain water, the water will taste sweeter. They also contain anti-oxidants, which are anti-ageing; when I eat them I not only feel horny as hell, I'm also getting younger by the minute. I served the tender perfumed artichokes with a Dijon mustard, olive oil and lemon dressing.
The main course was rainbow trout baked in salt. I mixed various herbs; thyme, rosemary, lavender, and lemon zest into the salt and egg white mix. You place a bed of salt below, lay the fish and mound a little snowy duvet cover over the body of the fish, leaving the head and tail exposed. Bake for 25 minutes in the hot oven of the Aga. You'd think the fish would be very salty but this is not the case. It's spectacular to eat, cracking off the salt crust and peeling back the skin to get at the moist flesh.
This summer in France, continuing on my long-standing search for vintage French linens and crockery, I found French maid style pinnies perfect for my volunteer waitresses Alyssia and Angie. I now have a staff uniform! I'm going to insist they wear stockings and suspenders to complete the picture... maybe I should do a fetish night?
Angie with the petit fours birthday cakes she made
Sommelier Alyssia in her little apron!