Tanjung Luar, situated in east Lombok, is the biggest fish market on the island. It starts very early in the morning, before it gets unbearably hot and sunny. People come from surroundig villages by mopeds, horse-drawn carriages or in the back of old pickup trucks. The market is loud, colourful and extremely crowded.
I' a big fan of the whole dinner with a view thing (who isn't?) and the west coast of Portugal seems to be perfect for that. Just pick a random spot (that's excatly what we did, no planning ahead) and you're likely to find a restaurant with the freshest seafood and an ocean view. Best thing ever!
Do you like oysters? For me it was love at first sight. Or even love before first sight. People seem to eat oysters all the time in books and I was sure I was going to do the same. The sound of the word 'oyster', together with a somewhat vague idea of what an oyster could be, always resulted in serious oyster cravings. I saw myself enjoying an oyster platter and a bottle of fine champagne in a noisy Parisian restaurant. Do I need to mention that I was about 11 at the time?
I have a history of craving the unknown and it hasn't always been a success path. The same crazy feeling responsible for my love towards oysters, made me think that roasted chestnuts and I were made for each other. My first time with chestnuts turned out to be a bitter disapointment - they tasted like potatoes. Don't get me wrong, I love potatoes with all my heart. But I excpected something more from chestnuts. I like chestnuts, but it's a relationship without fireworks.
Oysters, however, that's another story. I have instantly fallen in love with their delicate texture and the briny taste of the sea. I usually eat them simple, with a dash of lemon juice. The mignonette sauce is a traditional condiment for oysters, made of shallots, vinegar and black pepper. Try a platter of oysters with mignonette, a fresh loaf of bread and champagne (prosecco or cava will do) or beer. It's better than chestnuts and better than potatoes.
Recipe: Oysters with mignonette sauceServes: 2 (or one eager oyster lover)
- 6 fresh oysters
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 1/4 cup apple vinegar
- one tsp frehs thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- a pinch of salt
- Combine all the ingredients of the sauce and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
- Shuck the oysters and place on ice.
- Serve with mignonette sauce and lemon wedges.
Delicious, aromatic and wonderfully warming, Vietnamese pho soup is a perfect remedy for a spring cold and a bad mood. As you can probably imagine, there are numerous variations and regional modifications of the recipe. The one I propose is my way of quickly making a satisfying bowl of soup.
I’ve made mine with shrimp, but you could use thin slices of beef instead. If you want your version to be vegan, go for cubed tofu. You can substitute mint and cilantro with your favourite fresh herbs and spice things up with Sriracha sauce.
It is consumed at any time of day in the North of Vietnam, whereas Southern Vietnamese usually serve it in the morning. It might seem weird to have a bowl of soup for breakfast, but trust me - it really is the best way to start your day. Especially on Mondays.
Recipe: Pho soupServes: 2
- 4 cups homemade vegetable stock
- 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
- one piece (ok. 5 cm) ginger
- one green chili
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 anise stars
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cardamom pods
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- To serve: rice noodles, raw shrimp, green chili, lime, fresh mint and cilantro
- Char the onion and ginger over an open flame.
- In a large pot, dry-roast cloves, cinnamon, anise, coriander and cardamom.
- Add onion, ginger, chili and stock.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered, for about an hour.
- Season with sugar, soy sauce and lime juice.
- In each bowl, place some noodles, shrimp, sliced green chillies, lime wedges, fresh mint and cilantro.
- Top with hot broth.
Oysters and beer? Some might find it rebellious and disrespectful, but it's not even a new idea. The tradition of pairing dark beer and oysters comes from 18th century, when oysters were a cheap and popular snack in taverns, mainly eaten by the working class. In the early 20th century, most of oyster beds were destroyed. The scarsity increased prices and oysters became an expensive delicacy, served with a glass of champagne instead of a pint of beer.
London’s Oyster & Porter House serves both oysters and beer. It is situated right next to the Borough Market, so the culinary competition is enormous. It’s a proper oyster bar, with a selection from France and Ireland, as well as Spain, Japan and New Orleans. The food menu changes daily, depending on availability of fresh fish and seafood. You can try Cornish crab, shell-on Atlantic prawns or a delicious beef, Guinness and oyster pie. The traditionalists, who only pair oysters with bubbles, shouldn't be disappointed - there's a wine and champagne list available.
I can now officially confirm that dark beer and oysters are a match made in heaven, especially if it’s an oyster stout we’re talking about. Some modern oyster stouts are simply beers that go well with oysters, but some breweries remain faithful to the tradition and actually add a handful of oysters to the barrel.
A half dozen of oysters and a glass of stout always make a perfect lunch.
Oyster & Porter House, The Wright Brothers
11 Stoney Street, Borough Market