Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it, there will be a fish.
So I sat tonight in a room pregnant with good smells and hungry people, watching this man whip up Mediterranean seafood dishes… but my mind was far away. It was an unsettling and seemingly slow day at work today, and by 3.30pm when we were seated in a meeting room on a conference call – I was less taken by the call than I was by the view outside the window… the sky was startling. Half the sky was illuminated, blinding; while the other half sat shrouded in angry cobalt and grey. Then we learned about this afternoon’s tornado… not a good thing at all. Things are a little crazy around the world and I think this is a time to live courageously and reach out more! At least, I’m trying to do so…
Anyway, class tonight: the main thing I learned from Marco was a wonderful method of chopping basil finely without bruising it. Usually, I tear the leaves with my fingers – but tonight I learned that to chop them finely without bruising them, you stack them like pancakes, roll the stack into a little cigarette and chop finely. Great method which Marco says he adapted from Gordon Ramsay.
After watching Marco and his assistant demonstrate cooking the dishes, we were divided into groups of four to cook our dinner. Things went reasonably smoothly all things considered and I soon fell into a different world where everything else that was going on around me seemed at once immediate and distant; all I knew was the smell, look and feel of what I was touching – de-boning oily salmon and smashing/peeling/chopping garlic and drizzling garlic oil on baguette slices… beautiful is food! I hardly noticed what everyone else in my group was doing, but they did really well and dinner came together so nicely.
(Kath did most of the plating – not so well captured in the photographs in this post – our plates looked very pretty on the table!)
Finally, everything was ready and we sat down to enjoy a glass of chilled white wine; saffron scented fish soup and garlic crostini; poached seafood roulade, spinach and sauce vierge; and lemon sorbet (the latter was provided by the kind folks at Auckland Fish Market).
Overall verdict? The whole meal was wonderfully light and easy to eat, yet satisfying; flavours melded together well and the fish was perfect. Preparation wasn’t too difficult and I suspect that with some practice, this routine will be a very easy and good one to use for dinner gatherings. Marco gave a great demonstration and was unbelievably patient while we were fumbling in the kitchen and constantly all asking for help at the same time!
I’m not sure I really tasted the saffron or the fish stock in the soup tonight, but what I do think are great are the simple additions of basic ingredients like fresh herbs, celery, fennel, leeks, potatoes, salt, pepper, lemon, sugar – I suspect carrots would be great too and that ingredients can easily be swapped based on what is in the cupboard or in season at the time.
Also great – the use of two kinds of fish (salmon and a white fish) in the roulade and in the soup, and varying the textures (cubed, minced), and, oh, I cannot not mention the vierge sauce. My goodness! The vierge sauce was so delicious – and so simple. Olive oil, tomatoes, lemon, basil, chervil, garlic, coriander, salt and pepper – mixed and gently warmed – and that was it. I do think this sauce would effectively work its magic on many other dishes.
So thank you Kath, for coming to class with me, Marco, and Auckland Fish Market for tonight. :-)