Monday, July 25, 2011

Leaving Ibiza

Corn Dogging

I am not sure what that expession means but I have heard it in films. Corn dogging? Don’t sound so nice. I have also heard of corn holing and whilst not compleately certain as to its exact meaning either, I have a fairly good idea of what it might refer to. It is not really the subject for a polite food blog but it does lead me into mentioning that my brother Saul refuses to eat sweet corn on account of its effects in the latrine the next morning. He never misses a chance to advise me to ‘chew well’ when eating sweet corn.

So, corn, yes. Tricky subject. Potenially unpleasant. Funny given how it sustains a good proportion of the world’s population.

Sweetcorn is heaven if it is good. The English boil it, cover it with butter then hopefully eat it, though who knows with the internet these days. The Spanish grill it and spinkle it with sugar. They too then eat it. Both ways are delicious but I would always go with the English way if I were to have to choose. It would be difficult to prove that it was more than just familiarity and longing that makes me feel this way but I am convinced it is nicer. But then butter is just so uttely wonderful.

God knows what the Greeks do with it. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Clam chowder with sweetcorn is pure and unadulterated heaven. Without question it is one of His recipes. Made with Ibiza potatoes and Carril clams the dish becomes a gateway to Nirvana. But don’t forget to chew.

What is not heaven though and has no credibility whatsoever is tinned sweetcorn. Not on pizzas, not in soups, not in salads and absolutely, definitely not as an accompaniament to one of the finest shellfish available to man – the Ibiza Red Prawn. I have gone on about these little mothers at length elsewhere so lets just leave it that they are good. They are also expensive. Very expensive. €120 a kilo in the restaurant we were eating them at the other day. €34 for 4 prawns. Now that’s a lot, but so it should be, as they are heavenly and these were particlularly big mothers. Sadly mine were a little under cooked, the flesh where the tail meets the head was just too translucent and flaccid. But I can forgive this; it is better than them being overcooked. But what I cannot, will not forgive is serving these kingly things with a salad finished with tinned sweetcorn. Putting low grade processed foodstuffs on the same plate with such quality, freshness and excellence is an abomination. The chef should have his fingers cut off and be put in the stocks for the rest of the season. The public should be allowed to throw the unopened tins of corn at him. That might make him think twice.

Why would you do such a thing? It simpy beggars belief.

Its a bit like leaving Ibiza

Thursday, July 14, 2011

thrashing pop

Note Number Three

I have been thrashing pop for 100 Catalans. The event was a to celebrate the continuing life of a very old salty sea dog that had been pulled into the depths of cancer hell by a humongous octopus. He had lopped off the tentacles though and had prevailed against this appallingly common disease. A year later he is as fit as a fiddle and wanted to mark the occasion with family and friends by consuming the fear that had embodied itself in the form of an octopus.

Pop is the Catalan name for octopus. It is a nice name but perhaps not so descriptive as its English counterpart. The dish he wanted to eat was similar to the Catalan dish pop amb patatas but there was no way on earth I was going to let on to any of the diners that it had anything to do with a native dish. I had to describe it as a dish from the outer Hebrides that had certain similarities with their version. Had I let on that it was anything to do with the Catatalan version I would have had a fairly unpleasant time of it. If there is one thing that Catalans cannot or will not agree on, it is how to cook any dish, let alone if some jumped up foreign git ie me, was doing it on their turf. No, I had to dissimulate.

The pop had been ordered form a local fisherman a few days previously and when my accomplice went to pick it up, it turned out the fisherman had sold it to others. This meant that we could only get half the required amount from him the next day. The fisherman had obligations to his restaurants. Never mind his obligation to el meu amic. This in turn meant that there was more potato than pop so whilst I was cooking it I had to explain to the sceptical onlookers that the Outer Hebrideans were potato fanatics and the octopus in their version was more of a flavouring than anything else, that the star of the show was the potato. The potato that sucked up and absorbed the stock and tomato sofrito. To confuse my audience still further I explained that the potatoes had flown with me that day from Ibiza. They were agog with admiration. That I had travelled with 10 kilos of Ibiza potatoes as hand luggage earned their respect and they left me in peace a little after that. A little. Fortunately in the glow of there approval I did not relent and tell them I was making pop amb patatas. That would have been fatal.

A word to the wise – if ever you are cooking a paella and there is anyone with a thimble of spanish blood in their veins in the vicinity tell them you are cooking rice. Do not, for God’s sake call it a paella. It will ruin your day.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Leaving Ibiza

Note number two:

The grill restaurants will be difficult to leave behind too. Such easy going, no frills quality. My favourites are Cas Pages and Can Pilot. I love Can Pilot. The chuleton, their speciality, varies from ok to really good. You order it for a minimum of two; they slice it off the bone into thick ribbons, season it heavily with rock salt and bring it to the table raw. At the same time a mini bbq is placed in the middle of the table. The charcoal is at exactly the right stage for grilling – glowing red embers beneath a coating of white ash. The waiter tells you to be careful in the same way a he might tell you a plate is hot. The difference is this is so hot you could brand yourself on it. British health and safety inspectors would have a fit.

So there you are, sitting at a table with your own bbq, smoke billowing up into the hesion draped ceiling and then out of the windows filling the village with its wafts of meaty fumes. It is an enjoyable way of eating and because it is potentially dangerous it is a great place to take children.

DIY BBQ is not the only option - the chugletas are excellent; and the baby rabbit, gazapo(?) is unbeatable, its tiny kidney a particular treat; the fried potatoes are superb; I believe they even do fish (quite why I couldn’t tell you). And if the meat is particularly good then you could just forgoe the bbq and eat it raw. I don’t do it much but I do do it often - there is something pleasantly primal about it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Leaving Sa Nansa

Come in Number 9. Your time is up.
Shit. We have been here for 10 years and it is time to get along. The years have been good. Really good, but we only meant to stay for 2. Now we are leaving so I gotta take note.

Note Number One
This might be the thing I find most difficult of all to leave behind - long, lazy, late sunday lunches.
Going out for lunch in Ibiza at 3 oclock is hard to beat and will be impossible to replicate in UK. The only places that will be open at that time will be all you can eat student/tourist troughs - grey, cold and drizzly affairs to mirror the weather. Gone the espardenyas, gone the gamba roja, gone the rice, the whole baked Zeus Faber, the patatas a lo pobre. Shit.