Before I start sticking my snout back up the many attractive back passages of Saigon, I thought I’d quickly wrap up a few personal highlights from what was a hectic European tour. Click the links below for more snaps and more info. Firstly, in vegetarian unfriendly Andorra, brother-in-law and solid Toulousaine chef Jacques, conjured up the amazing rabbit barbecue pictured above. Twelve lovely, fluffy bunnies were cremated at this Pyrenean forest barbie. He also taught me how to cook paella. In the Place Saint Miguel, Barcelona I tried a paella negre (squid ink paella). I’ve been wanting to try this dish ever since I heard a Barcelonian (is that a word?) rave about it. However, it was bollocks. Any ink flavour there is gets lost by cooking it with the rice.
In the UK, I had a superb fish supper at the ‘world famous’ Anstruther Fish ‘n’ chip shop. It’s reputation is well deserved. Not in the slightest bit greasy, bonkers fresh fish, chunky chipshop chips. For my money, which isn’t saying much I suppose, this shack is up there with my perennial fave in Oban – the one that featured in last year’s mammoth Scottish fish ‘n’ chip shop round up.
This is the best Scottish breakfast I’ve ever had (and I’ve had one or two) – Haggis, Orkney black pudding, organic Tamworth pig sausages and bacon, homegrown everything else including the eggs. East Lochhead B&B in Lochwinnoch, Scotland has that whole healthy, homegrown, Slowfood mashmix going on. Noodlegirl and me had two dinners and two breakfasts here. As the Americans say, "It freakin’ rocked." More snaps here.
I did a lot of work interviews in Europe. One of the most interesting was with the manager of Cumbrae Oysters oyster farm off the Isle of Cumbrae in south-western Scotland. He has around a million oysters on his farm, which he tells me is quite small as far as oyster farms go. His oysters, particluarly his ‘jumbo oysters’, and hand dived razor clams, have a niche following in Hong Kong.
Regulars will know I love oysters and it was fascinating to learn more about how to farm them, how they grow, the taste, the importance of sea temperature, predators (did you know starfish, even small ones, eat oysters by drilling a hole into them and sucking the oyster out over a period of days? No?, well you do now. This blog is a bleedin’ education, I’m tellin’ ya) I’m pondering whether or not to podcast the interview with him. I record most interviews on a K750i phone which works just like a regular audio recorder, but the quality is not really good enough for broadcast. So, bollocks, maybe I won’t podcast after all. I’ll just annoy you with the fact that I could, if I wanted, but I won’t, or maybe I will, then again… More pics from the oyster farm here.
So that was Europe and those are snails. Now, where was I… Oh yeah, Saigon. One (final) year of blogging from the streets of Saigon ahead of me. I’m looking forward to it, hope you are too.