On a cold, windy, rainy Saturday we thought it was a great idea to go to the seaside! How insanely British. Ferries were grounded (or whatever they do to ferries). Sea gulls thought it was a bit too blustery to take off. And a young chap on a skateboard was using his jumper as a sail to propel himslef up a steep slope. A solitary windsurfer was giving the coast guard a heart attack. Lyme Regis was in its element.
We bought 2 large crab from a very friendly fishmonger who assured us they were Lyme Regis crabs that had been delivered yesterday night. Not last night then? Great bloke.
His array of fish was breathtaking.
I asked him what his best fish of the day was and he immediately pointed at 4 immaculate skate wings. Rosy pink and frilled like a large feather. I mischeviously asked whether skate was endangered... and he said there was tonnes of it out there. Quite different from what you read in the papers.
Whilst we were having a much needed cup of hot chocolate he took the dodgy bits out of the crab and cracked the claws. We left 20 pounds lighter with 2 crabs weighing well over a kilo each. Glorious chaps. The colour of Stafforshire bricks.
As we drove home to Somerset, Hector and Bella, Cowie's whippets could barely control themselves as the crabs took pride of place in the boot and began to smell enticingly fishy. We fully expected to find them both tucking when we left them in the car to pay the River Cottage store in Axminster a visit. But when you think about it, Crabs are pretty much dog proof. But probably not cat proof.
We bought some fantastically dense bread and a couple of disappointing Cornish pasties and set off through the storm back home.
The whole Cowie household joined forces. Tamysn made a few roulades for a hunt event, Cowie made the main course of garlic lamb and DAvid and I teamed up to take on the crab.
David used a combination of Rick Stein's fish book, a mole grip and a hammer to delicately prepare the crab. I used a fondue prong to tease the meat out of the infuriating creviches in the crabs body. It's a gentle balance between getting all the meat out and making sure that there isn't any shell in the ricey meat.
All that was missing was a compressor unit and a jack hammer!
Having weened all of the meat out I embarked on a journey to create the ultimate mayonnaise.
Tamsyn had bought some unfiltered, organic extra virgin olive oil which was deliciously bitter and flavoursome. Bright green and thick it created a luxurious mayonnaise. Given that this was my debut I very carefully followed a combination of Constance Spry and Jamie Oliver's recipes adding a little drizzle of olive oil to the creamed yolks, salt and cayenne pepper. Gradually as the mixture got thicker I let it down with some lemon juice and white wine vinegar.
There's something really satisfying about making mayonnaise from scratch. But it's also terrifying to see the amount of oil that is needed to make it!
Cowie toasted some of Hugh's bread (which was fantastic) just before we gorged ourselves on crab and mayonnaise.
Pure bliss. Simple and so in sesason. In fact it was so good we didn't progress beyond our starter... Cowie's lamb was put back in the fridge!
And we've now got some great stock to make a crab risotto with... mmm.