PC 68 Eating Out ….. and In

 

In the last few days we managed, unplanned but actually delightfully, to eat out on three consecutive nights. You might think that this is a simple reflection on the social whirl in which we live here in Hove, but you would be wrong. We, I suspect like most people, eat out occasionally – it just happened that this time the evenings out were all bunched up together.

The local Ristorante Italiano, Orsino’s, is actually run by an Iranian, as is its sister restaurant, Otello’s, across the street. Not the same Iranian, but a relative; rumour has it some years ago a few staff at Otello’s walked across the street to open up a new place in competition! Some lovely neighbours, having decided they were done with having people for supper at home, asked us to join them for a meal at Orsino’s. Ramin, the manager, was able to be as obsequious as the ubiquitous Italian manager, but after the expected small talk returned to entertaining a couple of Iranian female models. The small-of-statue waiter Cassio was out of central casting, but we had, as expected, a good meal. Do you know, you can still have Insalata Tricolore in 2016, here in Hove? The offer of a complimentary glass of Grappa, or was it Limoncello (?), was graciously declined and we walked home down Albany Villas.

The UK’s Green party’s manifesto encourages the development of a local economy. In their warped sense of moral righteousness they envisage us driving cars made in a local factory, the cars running on petrol from a local oilfield, the pedals operated by feet wearing shoes made from local leather etc etc (Forgive me, I might be a little mean and selective here!). Sadly, like most idealistic endeavours, they failed to live up to their published dreams when they ran the City Council, and it came to the commissioning of the latest structure in Brighton – the BA i360, a 160m tall observation tower which will open this summer. All of the manufacturing was made on continental Europe, either by the Dutch steelwork specialists Hollandia or by the glass company Sunglass of, er, Italy. It’s also, I guess, a rather stark reflection on the UK’s dwindling manufacturing capability.

Not so ‘Isaac – at’, a restaurant in the North Laines area of Brighton (www.isaac-at.com). Personally the name is just on the too clever side of clever (particularly when you email info@isaac-at.com! (just read it aloud.) but I heartily support their aim, to provide food and drink that is sourced as locally as possible. For those of you who live in countries renowned for their wine, watch out. The sparkling Brut that preceded dinner and the Horsmonden Dry Davenport 2013 both came from Sussex vineyards and were apparently delicious. The menu is only decided when Isaac has been out and about, finding what he can: this evening for example it’s cuttlefish (from Newhaven) and Cucumber (from Chichester).

And it’s a little like a staged play, we the punters merely enjoying the creations of the chef artists. A ‘tasting menu’ was the offing, but even that was preceded by a little appetiser – a smoked salmon creation that tasted like a smoked salmon sandwich without the bread. The starter was asparagus, egg yolk, pork scratchings and scurvy cress  …… and so it went on, creation following dish, small, simply beautifully presented and unctuous. Occasionally the chef’s imagination ran away with itself …. “…. and it’s finished with the mist from steaming Kale.” Er? Really? Why? Highlights were poached cuttlefish with a smoked apple puree …… and a desert of chocolate and lavender ice-cream.

Cuttle Fish

poached cuttlefish with Bok Choi, smoked apple and cauliflower puree

We have dear friends who aren’t the greatest cooks on the planet and it’s recognised by them and us. One memorable ‘apple crumble’ was so hard that rumour has it it went into the footings for a fence post after we had all tried to eat it. They have had suppers with us and if there is anything as ‘our turn’ so it was. We offered to bring along some of the food (‘once bitten twice shy’ you might say), an offer greedily accepted, Oh! and we should help in its cooking …… and we had a great evening, no hassle, no pressure, just four people enjoying each other’s company. We drove back rather later than planned, a lovely Buttermilk Yellow moon, just off full, hanging in the night sky above the South Downs. April can be a month of changeable weather in England and the temperature outside was only 2°C. By the time we got down to sea level, the northerly wind was screened by the hills and at home the temperature had reached a balmy 6°C!!

So different from the evening before and the evening before that – and each in its own way memorable, sharing food with people you love. And tonight? Just the two of us, so we’ll probably look in the fridge, look in the cupboard and concoct something; you can probably guarantee it will be what we want!!

More scribbles ……..

Richard 28th April 2016                                       richardyates24@gmail.com

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