Saturday, 25 July 2009

Seaside Eating in Sussex Coast: The Ship Inn and crab and lobster

A couple of weeks ago Kelsie and I decided we needed a quick escape out of London for some free radical eliminating sea air, and of course some good fresh seafood. We don't really know much about the coast of England so randomly picked Selsey as our destination this time.

We had three memorable meals in the area. The first, at the Rushmere, was a total disaster and almost made us turn around and head home. Rubbery, tasteless fish that had all signs of being zapped in a microwave was served with uncooked, unseasoned vegetable garnish. It really was pretty awful.

The second was in nearby Itchenor at a place called the Ship Inn. The previous night's disaster meal was redeemed by a fabulous lunch here. When we walked in we knew right away this was going to be a good meal. There were local ales on tap and the specials board had an interesting selection. We asked our server about the availability of lobster and funnily enough she said the best lobster she had was in Cape Cod. We had a bit of reminisce with her about our fave lobster places on the cape and about how we miss lobster rolls, and she explained that it was hit or miss with lobster down on the Sussex Coast and on that particular day there wasn't any available. Kelsie had a smoked haddock fishcake that was definitely more haddock than potato (we like!) served with a kind of Caesar salad with all the right ingredients down to marinated anchovies. I had one of the specials, grilled sardines on toast with a warm tomato chutney. It was perfectly executed and tasted really fresh. We decided to share the dressed Selsey crab which was all that you could ask for -- incredibly fresh crab, lightly seasoned, served with a salad of mixed greens.

Sufficiently stuffed we headed back to Selsey. Later that evening we had our third memorable meal of the trip at crab and lobster in nearby Sidlesham. It was a good thing we stopped to book our table as the only times left were 6pm and 9:45 pm. We opted for the earlier time. crab & lobster oozes comfort and elegance. The wait staff were extremely professional and friendly.

Kelsie ordered seared scallops with beetroot as a starter and i had a salmon crab parcel on pickled cucumber slices. The pickled cucmbers were a great textural and tangy complement to the rich creamy parcel of smoked salmon wrapped around dressed crab. Our mains were just as interesting. Kelsie ordered a crab risotto which was garnished with a cheddar crisp. Unfortunately the crisp tasted mostly of burnt cheese and was just too bitter to enjoy. I had a delightful fish stew with mullet, hake, and clams, accompanied with a vibrant spicy rouille. I slurped my way to heaven with that stew and vowed to make it one of these weekends. Dessert was a bit disappointing. We had a rhubarb tart. The pastry was a bit too thick and hard, and the rhubarb was a little tough. Otherwise no complaints. I could see us coming back and perhaps staying in one of their guest rooms or even their newly available self catering crab cottage.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

When nothing else will do

any or all who know me know that I love the food of spain, have lived in spain, speak spanish and generally bang on about spain all the time. and for good reason. the food is FAB. the wine is fab too. and of course there is BARCA. need i say more. so every now and then when its been a while since i've visited spain i like to check out some restaurants or tapas bars where i live. mel and i live in london now so there is a good choice. and we have checked a few of them out. my favourite to date in london city is garcia and sons and la plaza which are both in portobello road london. and there have been others like the salt yard and dehesa which are good yes but not really the kinda spain im looking for. just a bit too over the top for me and way too expensive. however, a recent saving grace has been our discovery of la bota in crouch end. mel and i have checked it out a couple of times to sample the beer from galicia and try a tapa or two. last nite i was totally craving spanish food so we decided to go for a longer visit and sample some more food and wine. they have a set menu but they also have a rotating specials board which i would recommend if you pay them a visit. seems like most things on the specials board are good, fresh and made with passion. they have an excellent wine choice too and the service is flawless. if you are in crouch end please pay them a visit. the prices are very reasonable too. they are also huge barcelona fans and regularly show la liga on tv screen.

La Bota on Urbanspoon