Saturday, April 26, 2014

The White Hart, Wytham

Saturday 19 April
Today Dag and Diane kindly drove us all the way down to Sussex so we could see the famous Palace at Fishbourne.  We had a wonderful time poking among its mosaics and gardens; then we went to the estuarine village of Bosham, where we visited Holy Trinity church (as seen on the Bayeux tapestry) and strolled through its exceedingly picturesque environs.
By the time we got back to Oxford, we were very ready for a good old fashioned pub meal.  So it was fortunate that we stopped at the White Hart in Whytham, and found it quiet and comfortable even on a Saturday night. 

The atmosphere called for beer, so we had pints of Henry's IPA and 6X ale, along with a fish board for two, featuring salmon, mackerel, and home smoked trout with bread and salad leaves.
One of our mains was a very nicely pan-fried breaded fillet of sea bass, served with potatoes, green beans, tomato and basil butter sauce.  The other was swordfish steak, unfortunately a mite overdone, with roasted slices of courgettes with rosemary, and parmentier potatoes, caper butter, and little supremes of lime. 

No dessert was needed - we enjoyed our last sips of beer, then headed for home. 

Thanks again, Diane and Dag, for our weekly adventures in archaeology, both Roman and ecclesiastical!

Salmon, Green Peas, and Potatoes

Friday 18 April
It's spring (as well as Good Friday), so Holt fell for a seasonal side of salmon while doing our week's Co-op shopping today.  
Tonight he sliced it into tranches, patted with tarragon, and pan-fried (flesh side down first, then flipped to crisp the skin). 

We served the succulent salmon with creamer potatoes, which we'd quartered and boiled, adding some frozen green peas for the last three minutes or so.  Frozen peas are no shame when you're a couple of thousand miles from your home garden.

Penne alla Puttanesca

Thursday 17 April
Somehow seven hours on the train is less exciting when you're heading home, even if you're traveling by the scenic east coast of England and able to catch glimpses of two cathedrals (Durham and York Minster) along the way.  But we arrived home in good time for dinner, at least. 

The dish was our frequent default mode on travel days: penne alla puttanesca.  The whores know how to put together a decent meal with cupboard ingredients in double-quick time.

Dinner with the Woolfs in Crail

Wednesday 16 April
Our colleague Greg kindly hosted both our lectures today, which kept all three of us pretty busy.  So it was pure lagniappe that after some post-lecture de-stressing with the Classics folks at a local pub, the Central, he drove us out to his home in the fishing village of Crail, and treated us to a home-cooked dinner.
While Greg took over the kitchen, Jo and their daughter Maud took us on a walk around their garden (son Ben was at Scouts, but showed up in time for dessert).  Conversation was lively, only interrupted for long enough for us to drink our red wine, and eat some fabulous food.

We started with dressed crabs, locally caught and prepared so that you can eat them right out of the shells, which is the way greedy folks like us prefer it.
The main course was Greg's own long-simmered venison stew; he explained that its unusually rich and delicious flavor was due to a touch of red currant jelly, as well as lots of red wine.  He'd also cooked some new potatoes and bright green kale to go with it.
We ended with ice cream (another local product) served with Greg's warm mixed berry sauce, and then proudly Scottish cheeses and oatcakes.  Oh, and a glass or two of another Scottish product, which made us almost float out to the car when Greg kindly drove us back to our accommodations.

So thanks, Greg, Jo, Maud, and Ben, for a marvelous and memorable evening!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Maisha, St. Andrews

Tuesday 15 April
Today we got on the train up the west of the country, and after seven hours, surprise! we were in St. Andrews, Scotland, where we were going to give some lectures. 
Our colleague on the spot, Myles, kindly let us into our convenient accommodations just across the street from the School of Classics, and gave us a page of restaurant hints.  So after a staggeringly picturesque coastal hike in unusually sunny weather, we headed for Maisha Indian Seafood.
Maisha is stuffed with potted plants and Christmas lights, inside and out; many of their chatchkes are Chinese or African, and seem to come from other restaurants.  Despite the blinking lights, the service is courteous, and the specialties are actually special.
We started with some papadoms and a chutney tray, which had not just the usual lime pickle, pepper and onion, and mango types, but a fruit mix that would have made an excellent smoothie.  We snarfed them down, and still didn't have any trouble doing the same to a plate of hot vegetable pakoras. 
Mains (which came with rice pilaf, plus some Cobra beers) were proudly made with local ingredients.  
The first was Jhal Kakra Bhuna, crab marinated with garlic and ginger, green chili paste, and coriander, in a curried sauce.

The second was deliciously deep-fried pomfret fish, or rupchanda - yay, a new fish - apparently marinated in the bhuna spices before being breaded, so each bit was tasty to snack on, from cheeks to tail.

So no haggis tikka masala, but Maisha is certainly one of Scotland's best Indian restaurants.