Sole Searching

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Lemon Sole “Grenobloise” style

After nearly two years, 20 months to be precise, my father popped in for a couple of days. I am not a great traveler I must admit and due to unexpected setbacks this year (bloody car), going to Brittany for a week wouldn’t be financially very wise. So Brittany came to me, smiling as usual, more zen than me and debonair, with each time whiter hair; I am now the same age he was when he first visited me in Sligo, all these years ago. Sobering thoughts, well, at least something was these last few days!

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Hungry and Dad
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And now…

Staying around works for a bit, but I like to take a nice spin somewhere. I opted for Sligo, in the North West of Ireland as it is less than two hours drive from the house, it has everything… I love Mullaghmore for the sea…

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Mullaghmore – Sligo
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Mullaghmore and Donegal Bay

The magnificent Benbulben…

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Benbulben – Sligo
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Benwiskin – Horseshoe drive

It even has in neighbouring Leitrim, a waterfall, in the Townland of Glencar, by the lake of the same name…

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Glencar Waterfall – Leitrim near Sligo Town
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Glencar Valley – Leitrim

Yes, it has it all. But I have been away for a while now, and the important thing when you travel with two hungry Bretons, is to know when and where to stop for lunch. I contacted Sligo based fellow blogger Val from Magnumlady’s blog and as usual and very promptly, she suggested a few places for a casual and tasty lunch. One caught my eye, as its location just south of Sligo town would have been perfect for lunch time as we were coming from this side of the County, in a little place called Collooney, Nook restaurant. That was exactly what we ( I) were looking for, fresh, cool, local, clever, I love what they do and admire them for their choices…

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Lower Main St, Rinn, Collooney, Co. Sligo
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Great Japanese inspired bowl of deliciousness.

As we were enjoying our lunch, we ended up debating about restaurants, and how I started cooking in Sligo, “Fadó Fadó”, a long time ago. I got my first taste of it in the Silver Swan Hotel, peeling and cooking vegetables. I was fascinated, and the head chef, a guy from the south west of France, a Gascon, taught me how to make Lemon Sole under the grill. Yes, the first time I cooked fish was in Sligo ( alright, alright, I was young, and apart from cooking cockles and mussels to stay alive-o, I didn’t know much about timing and the little things that can go wrong with fish…). As we continued our journey towards Easkey and the Ox Mountain, Dad asked me if I was still in touch with him. They became quite friendly at some stage…

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Strand south Sligo
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Easky Lough – Ox Mountains

So a couple of days after, I was already on my way to Dublin to bring my father back to the airport. Short but sweet. I kept thinking of that Sole recipe, and after all these years, I decided to make my own version, a dish that represents for me a bit of soul searching I have done during these couple of days with my father. God only knows why!

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Lemon sauce meuniere/ Grenobloise

You’ll Need:

  • one Lemon Sole filet per person
  • a pinch of flaked almond toasted
  • fresh mint sliced finely
  • two handfuls of medium leafed spinach
  • two spring onions
  • 100 g of butter
  • 1 organic lemon
  • a few capers
  • a few asparagus, grilled

How To?

First place some flaked almonds onto a dry tray and toast under the grill. Don’t go too far, it happens quickly. Set aside. Start cooking the spinach with salt, the spring onions sliced and a bit of olive oil until nicely reduced. This will only take a few minutes and I don’t bother with water, I just let the leaves sweat in their own moisture. Set aside also. In a tray with olive oil, grill the asparagus in a hot oven. This won’t take long, five to seven minutes max. on a tray with olive oil, place the Lemon Sole Filets and grill for just a few minutes. Like five and it’s done, big max. You will know by touching the fish, it will get slightly firmer. Sole is a flat fish, so it won’t take long at all. Always skin down though!  In a pan, start melting the butter and only when it starts to get a shade hazelnut in colour, squeeze the lemon in the sauce. Stir well and add the sliced mint leaves. Reheat the spinach and asparagus briefly, and pour the sauce over the fish, with the toasted almond flakes and capers. A bit of salt and black pepper and that’s it. I love a bit of fresh orange with the spinach for contrast…

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nearly ready…

And finally…

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Final touch
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Lemon Sole “Grenobloise” style

Keep Well and Eat Happy

Slán Tamall

Franck

 

 

 

The Fouace And The Trust

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Fouaces and salads

As the annual Dawn Chorus approaches, I remembered a lovely story from years gone by, a story of ornithology, environmental convictions and a rare bread that has now been almost lost. Once the pride of Vannes and its county ( or Department as we call them), I wanted to recreate this recipe from memory. Not an easy task… The action takes place in 1988 I think, I was 14 or 15, wishing to be 16 or 17, like we all once did. I was – since the age of 11- passionate about wildlife and especially ornithology, the study of birds ( please don’t start, I have heard all the jokes about it!)… One day, I got my first telescope, two years after my first pair of binoculars that lasted me nearly 20 years… Life was sweet!

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The United Colours of Cork

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Marlborough Street, Cork City

This is a funny one I know; I have been leaving in Ireland for over 23 years now and the only time I have made it to Cork City were mere pit stops, waiting for a bus to Dublin somewhere in 1996 where I think I went for a stroll and a pint by the river Lee, another time to catch a shuttle to Ringaskiddy, essentially to board a ferry to Brittany. I remember waiting for a train there once too, probably in 2000, after spending a holiday with my Dad and my sister in Glengariff. I almost made it two years ago during a work trip to West Cork but the time was against us. Cork is a big County, the West part of it alone is as far as it is beautiful, far from its Capital that is, a county and a City synonymous with an  avant-garde understanding of food, a little Irish “Marseilles”, with a cacophony of accents, colours… A cosmopolitan city – the way harbour metropolises can often be- with such variety of shades; with ingredients like that, it was only going to turn out into something amazing. When it comes to food, it didn’t disappoint and it is of no surprises if it is considered by many as the “Food Capital of Ireland”, despite some proverbial Towers of Babel having a go at the title ( I call them “Baby-bel”) it can rest tranquille and assured of a bright food culture future…

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Pear Charlotte and Raspberry Coulis

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Pear Charlotte and Raspberry Coulis

I have had that recipe in my head for a while now, I mean we are talking obsession here, a tale Herman Melville would have been able to narrate much better than me; I needed to put this baby to bed, finally park it somewhere or simply just do it… “Go on lad jump!”. You see, I have never made a Charlotte before, a dessert that I particularly fancy for special occasions, it was my birthday cake, nearly always, a synonym of celebrations. We used to order it at the Patisserie, leaving it to the expert hands of the “artisan” tradesman. We went to collect it, it came with a little container of raspberry coulis that I thought would never be enough for the four of us, especially knowing how fond my father was of the red juicy sauce… This week, as I turned a new leaf and saw myself becoming wiser and older again (yeah right) it was now or never, “it’s my birthday and the Spring is here”, I felt lucky!

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Harvey’s Borscht Ballad

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Borscht and Gort na mona goat’s cheese with buckwheat honey

I could start this little story – listening to the news I have now decided to turn off- with the words of Bob Dylan “Hard Rain”, how appropriate as another year is about to roll over this week for me, “The same old story” Billie would whisper, so hell with that I say, and decided to pay a little tribute to an old friend of mine, and how we ended up, my Mother, sister, Harvey his brother and I in a Russian restaurant on my last birthday in my “cosy-cushy” hometown of Vannes…

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“March of all Weathers” Roasties

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Roasties with eggs and Goat’s cheese

St Patrick’s Day came and went, like every year. A day I used to look forward to, especially when I still lived in Brittany, filling my dreams to be with Celtic romanticism, a  session of music in the “Glasgow Pub” on Verdun Avenue, around a pint of Coreff beer from Morlaix… We did craft beers before it was cool. But the Irish National Day is now an event I tend to shy away from, not in a bad way, it is simply a case of “been there, done that and got the kiss-me-I am- Irish T-shirt”. From Sligo, under the “Free our political prisoners” banner, to Galway and the colourful and pride of the the city of tribes “Macnas”, street performers and their inimitable drum rhythms, to the Dublin parade followed by a few quiet pints before night sets… Yes, done all that, and the memory I have kept from them all apart from my Armorican “joie de vivre”, is that it seems to be always “bleeding cold!” …

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Frozen Blood Orange Creamy Sorbet

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Creamy blood orange sorbet

Well, it didn’t fail to come, to the joy of small and big kids ( like me), we got a full week full of snow. Not that little fluffy dandruff , no, no, I mean knees deep stuff, blizzard and drifts, enough to be marooned in my little cottage, with 12 cats, a dog and plenty of food and water. This Breton takes no chances; I knew what was coming and “be careful what you are wishing for” kept on ringing in my head… My, my, this was a first for me, full of drama and wasn’t it just beautiful?

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