Sunday 6 April
This morning the Bibury trout farm stand was at Summertown Market; previously we hadn't figured out they're scheduled for the first and third Sunday in the month. So with our declared motto, "see a trout, buy a trout" - or rather, "buy four for the price of three," we so bought. Then we phoned Diane and Dag, whom we were going to hear sing at Evensong at St. Giles' church, to come and share them.
Some more Summertown Market buys made up our starters: an overpuffy "focaccia" with tomato and mozzarella, and a savory red onion and cheese quiche. We shared a festive copa de cava along with these.
We baked our trouts on a bed of sautéed fennel and red onion, more or less on the lines of what Gordon Ramsay does with sea bass, here.
Sea Bass with Olives, Tomatoes, and Fennel
2 whole, small sea bass, about 1 pound each, scaled and gutted
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to rub over the fish
1 large or 2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
splash of dry white wine
10 plum/Roma tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup sliced black olives
handful of fresh basil or dill, roughly chopped.
Clean the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Score the fish several times on each side, then rub all over with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat the oil in a stovetop-to-oven casserole that is wide enough to hold the fish side by side. Add the fennel and a little seasoning. Sauté the fennel until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in a generous splash of wine, then stir in the tomatoes and olives. Scatter half of the basil over that, then rest the sea bass on top.
Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15–20 minutes; it should be opaque at the thickest part of the flesh. Serve the fish and sauce straight from the casserole.
Incidentally, our serving platter, once emptied, did good service for the fishbones as we polished them off.
We ended with Summertown market brownies, coffee, and digestivi. Holt would ordinarily serve only his own baked goods, but this flat's kitchen, though good for daily cooking, won't reach as far as baking. Still, we hope our guests enjoyed what we could manage.