Sunday, 27 April 2008

A Taste Of The North

It isn't every day that you meet a hairy biker. No, I don't mean some random Hell's Angel with excess hair. I mean one of THE original and one and only Hairy Bikers, Mr Simon King. I was chuffed to bits to bump into Simon on Saturday as I was leaving my show at the Journal Taste North East England Food and Drink Festival at Gibside in Rowlands Gill. And what lovely bloke he is, every inch the warm and happy fella you see on their TV show.

The whole point of the day was to highlight what I have been singing about for ages now; that up here in the chilly North East, we have some amazing small producers supplying unbelievably good food and drink. Without sounding like the down-trodden northerner, I do think that we suffer a little when it comes to National recognition for great food and drink production. But thanks to The Journal, our flagship newspaper, the event was a huge success with thousands of people coming out to see what all the fuss was about.

I was first to present and I actually thought that the looming dark clouds and early start may have given me one man and a dog to present to. I was astounded to see a packed marquee full of food loving people who were happy to see me chirping on for half an hour. Young fennel and Seahouses kippers were the order of the day on a variation of my orange, mustard and saffron braised fennel. I love to see people smiling and realising how easy it is to cook something that may at first seem like a complicated recipe or a confusing taste combination. I was told that within an hour, my friend Sandy Higson of the brilliant Coquet Valley Preserves had sold out of her English Mustard with Newcastle Brown Ale. Happy days.

Here is a quick fish and fennel recipe that entails minimum fuss and maximum flavour. It is great with buttery boiled potatoes and greens. And if you see a Hairy Biker, one of the originals, give them a shout. You will be assured of a big cuddle and a warm smile.

Baked Mackerel with Fennel, Apple and Cider

Feeds 2

2 mackerels, filleted
1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly lengthways
2 apples, peeled and cut into slices
150ml dry cider
2 tbsp cider vinegar
25g butter
Salt and pepper

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C, GM6.
2 - Put the cider and vinegar into a pan and bring to the boil.
3 - Layer the sliced fennel and apple into a small baking tray. Place the fillets on top, season with salt and pepper then pour on the hot cider and vinegar. Dot with butter, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
4 - Remove and scatter with finely chopped fennel fronds.

14 comments:

theboydonefood said...

cracking recipe mate, so simple and clever. Well jealous of you meeting half the hairy bikers!

Holler said...

Good for you David! Sounds like it was a worthwhile day!

It always makes me laugh when English people refer to themselves as Northerners! Has Scotland disappeared, I think? Maybe it is not in your peripheral vision :P

I know you won't take offense David, well at least I hope not?

David Hall said...

Wil - ta! High praise from you my friend.

Holler - I'm a northern Englishman! So yes, I am in the north. But never offended. You need to know that my brother lives in Aberdeen, I lived and worked there for 6 years and I also was married there. So bonny Scotland is always in my peripheral vision - I adore the place and the people! x

Bellini Valli said...

Simple and flavourful dish David. Sounds like things are becoming quite a success in spreading the word on healthy and locally. My parents are from Northern England too as you already know.

Peter M said...

Thanks for showing us that mackerel can be a delicious fish to eat. It's not the lightest of fish and the fennel would cut into that.

Holler said...

I am glad you are a good soul David, that red wine certainly loosens my tongue! Shame on me :(

Cynthia said...

I wish we got fennel here, I would have really liked to try this dish.

David Hall said...

BV - Slowly but surely the word is getting out, it takes time but I am enjoying the challenge.

Peter - mackerel, IMO, is an underated fish. I could eat it with anything but it does go well with the aniseed of fennel.

Cynthia - I'll do you a swop; you send me a plantain, I'll send you some fennel!

Aimée said...

What a cool event, David. It's so important to eat locally and support people like your friend Sandy. I'd love to try some of that ale!

Pat said...

Well done David. Hubby and I just love the Hairy Bikers! Watch all their programs.
I haven't tried Makerel yet. I think it may be too strong for my tastes. But the recipe sounds lovely.

Antonia said...

Love the hairy bikers! Very jealous.

And I love mackerel, of course. I'm not a fennel fan, but can imagine that the combination would work really well if I was! (Does that make sense?!)

Helen said...

I knew he would be just as nice in real life! That must have been a great experience. I agree with you, sometimes it seems like it's all about London when we talk about UK food and there are some amazing producers out there. I went to the Real Food Festival on Sunday and got to meet some of them, it was brilliant. I'll be checking out that mustard too, sounds delicious.

Ed Bruske said...

David, I think this may now be my ultimate seafood recipe (besides my Portuguese seafood stew). The idea of mackerel and fennel together is fantastic, and since I keep promising myself to start eating mackerel, this is where I will start. Thanks for sharing.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Yep, I can see how that would be a great combo. I like fennel with sea bass, too.