Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Sardines in Moliets



Lying in the sunshine today reminded me of the time I spent working in the South West of France. I say working, when the reality was mainly lying on beaches, cycling through fields of sunflowers, swimming in the swimming pool and eating phenomenal food.

I had taken a job as a chef in private villas, I was the last person to sign up before the summer and the last job left was entitled 'floating chef'. This apparently meant that I had to fill in for any chef that fell in or took a holiday. Noone took a holiday and noone was ill. I had nothing to do. I realised that I may be sent home as a waste of money as I was still being paid a salary so I invented a job for myself which involved making the canapes for the villas and delivering them on my bike. This took about 1-2 hours a day. The rest of the day I was free to do as I wished. And the management thanked me for making myself useful!

The food in the area was amazing. I lived so well and so cheaply. I went to the market in the morning and bought fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast and at the weekend I sat in cafes with my croissant or my pain au chocolat and a coffee and read the papers. For lunch I had wonderful salads; nicoise, chevre, saumon fume, landaise, salad au lardons. But the best meals were in the evening when I took a bottle of wine to the beach, bought a baguette from the boulangerie and then visited the fish stall on the seafront. In England it would be a burger hut, in America a hot-dog stand but in Moilets et Maa it was a hotplate and a selection of freshly caught fish. They served fresh tuna steaks with sauted red onions and peppers, swordfish brochettes with shallots and bay leaves and best of all little sardines cooked till crisp on the hot iron and served in a piece of foil with a wedge of lemon. They were sweet and tasted of the sea. Mopping up the juices with the crusty bread and washing it all down with some great wine was heaven, especially with the sun setting over the sea. And I got to do it every night!

This dish hardly needs a recipe but here is a 'serving suggestion' so to speak:

4-6 very small sardines per person
olive oil
salt
1 lemon
baguette and wine to serve (optional)

* Clean, gut and descale the sardines
* Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
* Cook on a hot hotplate, under a grill or on a barbeque until the skin crisps and the flesh is cooked through (usually about 2-3 minutes per side, but really depends upon the size of the fish)
* Squeeze lemon juice over the sardines and serve with crusty baguette and a good bottle of wine, preferably at sunset on a beach!

22 comments:

Basquiat Scrawls said...

I know this is all about food and that, but i love your illustrations. It's cool how drwing skills can lay dormant and still not dissapear. I've totally forgotten how to read music but i don't think i'll ever forget how to draw, and neither it appears, will you!

Helen said...

Thanks! I am still learning but I am really enjoying drawing again and I guess this is a good excuse to practice! xxx

Anna said...

We bbqed lovely sardines just like this (doused in lemon juice) for a bbq a few weeks ago. Sometimes simple is best, huh? They were wonderful. (Except that we forgot to gut them first! Ha.)

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