I was flicking through my picture library the other day and came across this. Is this not a fantastic pan of food? To be honest I’m not sure when it was imaged, must have been a couple of years ago maybe more, but I do know where it was imaged. It was imaged at a stall in London’s Borough Market which can be found on the south bank of the Thames behind Southwark Cathedral partly underneath London bridge. For many foodies in the UK this is the ultimate Farmers Market. A mecca of produce from all over the UK that just has to be visited.
However this posting is not about the market. I suspect the internet is probably full of blog postings and imagery of this place. If that is what you want then stop reading this and go google.
This was what grabbed my attention. Big time.
Turning a corner and seeing this sight was stunning. This is the kind of thing that really gets the adrenaline flowing and my heart pumping.
Coming across something like this makes my heart sing. It’s what I live for. I do. There was a time I lived to throw myself out of perfectly good airplanes or haul myself up bits of rock for no good reason. But now it’s finding something like this. This is both wonderful and sad at the same time.
It’s wonderful because it exists at all and it’s sad because it’s so rare. Why are our streets full of those fast food McTucky King Burger type places and not these? I’m serious. The queue for this went around the corner and people were coming back for more!
Just look at this. I want all of it. I want it now. I want it everyday until I die. It’s that good. So good I chose it to banner this blog. I hope it’s still there.
This is “Lancaster Sands” painted by JMW Turner in circa 1826. This place can be found in the Northwest of England. Prior to the extension of the railway to Windermere in the 1840’s if you wanted to take three days off the long, painful and expensive coach journey to and from Westmoreland then taking this hazardous crossing of the sands was what you did. For a price, skilled guides would navigate travellers through the various hazards and quick sands of the bay. Not least, timing the short interval of low tide was everything. No Doubt the hotels and guesthouses either side of the crossing would be full of ever exaggerating tales of “there I was, I thought I was going to die!”. Here is the bay imaged from Morecambe as it is today. If you look closely you can just about make out the fells of the English Lake District through the mixture of haze and rain. However, this is food blog not a history blog and I’m in Morecambe for a reason. The reason started when I came across a wonderful book in my shelves. The Seafood Lovers Guide by Rick Stein. For me if you want to understand the seafood around the British coastline then this has to be the go-to book along with the go-to tv series. In my mind this is probably the best tv series and the best book of seafood ever written. Whilst flicking through the pages I came across this. This was one of those “I had forgotten all about that” moments. A moment when distant memories of a forgotten part of child hood are sharply brought back in to focus. Morecambe bay is rightly famous, amongst other things, for its seafood. Amongst which are flooks and Cockles. But the star, rightly or wrongly, are brown shrimp. In the above passage Stein gives a nice little insight into Morecambe, the bay and a local shrimp fisherman Raymond Edmondson. This is his shop. Inside I found that childhood favourite that I had almost forgotten about. Potted Shrimps. As a snack with a large, steaming mug of tea or with a small glass of cider this is nothing other than complete joy. There are some things in my food life that I struggle to understand. Why are there people who will go out of their way to spend hundreds of pounds on a miserably small jar of mediocre caviar and ignore something as fantastic and as brilliant as this which costs, I don’t know (I don’t care) something like £2/3? I don’t get it. The best part though it that it is so simple too make. This is all you need: Brown shrimp (preferably from Morecambe Bay), unsalted butter, cayenne pepper and nutmeg (the image has paprika, I grabbed the wrong jar). That’s it. Nothing else. Most recipes will tell you that the nutmeg is essential and the cayenne is optional. To my mind it is the other way around. The bite from the cayenne really lifts this. The quality of the shrimp is everything with this so it is worth going out of your way to find good ones. Wash and dry the shrimp. Take time to get the shrimp properly dried off. Then get them properly covered in the nutmeg and the cayenne. In the mean time, make up some clarified butter in the usual way. That is slowly melted down in a pan on very low heat so that the yukky, fatty stuff ends up at the bottom and the clear stuff ends up at the top (take your time and be patient). Fill up a small, sterilised, jar with the shrimp and pour in the clarified butter and leave to set. First on the counter to loose most of the heat and then to the fridge. It’s a good idea to pour on a little more of the butter as it sets to make sure the shrimp is properly covered. That is all there is to it. Easy, simple, cheap and wonderful. The end result should look something like this. Imagine what a great starter something like this could be or an original finger food or tapas of some kind. Personally, I love it spread on a nice piece of toast. Or how about this, melted over a nice piece of fish simply served with potatoes and green beans. Enjoy.