Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A gourmet weekend in the offing

It's only Wednesday, but I'm already busily making my plans for a rather foody weekend.

The Other Half is off to Perpignan, in the south of France, to see his Rugby League team take on the Catalans Dragons. He'll set of early on Friday and take the day to travel south by train – and spend Sunday doing the same thing in reverse, with Saturday set aside for the match and (hopefully) a little food shopping.

In the meantime, having worked last Sunday (my first ever studio photo shoot), I'm going to take Friday as time off in lieu.

So – what to do, what to do? Or more importantly: what to eat?

Everything on that score will be centred around a Friday morning trip to Borough Market, where I know that, amongst other things, the range of seafood that I'll be able to get will be higher than Broadway Market the following day.

So, I'm starting from a point of trying to work out what dishes I want to eat.

Let's see: top of the list is scallops – to be pan seared and served with cannellini beans heated with chili and garlic, and some salad leaf.

After that, possibly some crab with spaghetti – I've done this a few times with dressed crab, but fancy trying with meat that's still in rather larger pieces. Once you've got the meat out, you simply warm it gently in olive oil, with a little red chili and garlic (yes, I know there's a bit of theme developing here).

I'd also like to have some sea bass – a whole fish, stuffed with fennel tops and baked in a coat of packed sea salt (no chili, note).

So, three days to cater for and three meals decided thus far.

Brindisa, the wonderful Spanish deli at Borough should enable me to find padron peppers – one bag will do me twice as a starter.

These are beautiful little things: you fry them in a smallish amount of ht olive oil, hopefully getting some of the skins slightly charred. Then serve with a garnish of course sea salt – and eat with your fingers, picking up by the stalks and biting off the fruit. Around one in 10 is hot. All are glorious.

It seems that we're well on the way to very simple food – Italian and Spanish influences – and a bit of heat to get the old endorphins going.

Ahhh ... endorphins. Those lovely little things that go through the roof when we've having good sex.

Anyway, back to the food.

I also quite fancy having a big dish of spaghetti with roasted tomatoes, red peppers and ... errr ... red chilies, pulsed with toasted ground almonds and a little virgin oil.

So that's four meals. What about some meat, though?

I am wondering about trying a couple of little quail, splitting and flattening them, and then cooking them on the griddle pan with a bit of course salt and some ... you guessed it: red chili. The weekend is in danger of becoming a culinary homage to the late Rose Gray, River Cafe co-founder.

But that is just coincidence – it's simply the perfect opportunity to stuff myself with the sort of nosh that I adore and that The Other Half is less enthused by.

So, where are we: Ah yes – three days to plan for and five meals provisionally planned (plus a couple of starters). One more meal to go, as I attempt not to waste this opportunity.

Ummm. Perhaps I'll leave that final choice until I see what's on display.

Not that I'm just going to be cooking and noshing for three days.

I may take in a gallery – I fancy a very relaxed stroll around the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, having not been for years – or I may try to think of some personal photographic project (perhaps I'll just photograph my food) or I may even try my hand at making some artisan chocolates.

And then I want to re-watch Visconti's film of Death in Venice and David Lean's Summertime to get myself even more in the mood for our forthcoming trip.

But now, after the snow, the Catalans have warned that the match may not go ahead.

I've told The Other Half in no uncertain terms that he's going anyway – he can't get a refund on his train tickets! And I have plans!

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