Loving our French neighbours …. but not the cold wind along the channel!

Life has been getting in the way generally the last few weeks. It hasn’t left much time for posting or visiting your blogs, but I’m playing catch up this week.

Last week we managed a speedy hop over the channel. Well, under the channel, to be more precise as we travelled via the Eurotunnel. We spent a night in Boulogne-Sur-Mer and stayed in the old town – very picturesque but I can’t get the photos off my phone to show you. We also stocked up on lots of wonderful wine, cheese and other delicious goodies like all good Englishers on a “booze cruise”. So many wonderful things to choose from and I had to smile as I bought some freshly sliced beef carpaccio – thin slices of raw beef which I served over a salad with griddled asparagus and drizzled with lemon oil. (If you want a chuckle at my not so successful attempt at making octopus carpaccio, take a look at this post).

Carpaccio (4)

I was smiling because in England a few weeks ago with some pals we went to a Steak Grill and one of us ordered a burger which they wanted served rare. “Sorry” we were told “local restrictions only allow us to serve minced beef when it is cooked through”. Couldn’t they rely on the quality of the beef they buy and their suppliers we asked? “Legislation” we were told. So a finger up to whoever in England decides how we should eat our meat, and a big round of applause to our French cousins for letting us make our own choices.

Beachy Head (3)

In an effort to work off some of the cheese calories we had consumed, yesterday we took the pups off to nearby Beachy Head for a walk.

Beachy Head (4)

Perhaps not such a good idea to visit this beautiful headland with amazing views across the south coast on quite such a windy day, but (as my granny used to say), it certainly blew the cobwebs away!



Well…it was a nice idea….”Carpaccio of Octopus”

When you blog over a period of time, you realise that often you cook and eat old favourites because they’re easy, familiar and, well, they’re good to eat. Because we have the lovely Fish Lady who delivers, we make the most of local fish but I confess to mostly cooking it quite simply on the grill or in the oven.

Pulpo Carpaccio (3)

When we are lucky enough to have an octopus delivered, I usually make Pulpo a la Gallega. Octopus cooked in the style of Galicia. And very good it is too.

Just before we took off for England a few weeks ago, Fish Lady (who is actually called Ana Maria) sold me an enormous octopus which weighed nearly 2 kilos. A monster from the deep. I knew that we wouldn’t eat it before we left so I cleaned it and divided it into two portions and froze it. Octopus (if it’s fresh when you buy it) actually benefits from being frozen as it tenderises it and beats slamming it on a nearby rock for half an hour in native fisherman style.

Looking for a new way to cook my tentacled friend, I came across a recipe for a Carpaccio of Octopus. It’s not really Carpaccio as the octopus is cooked first, but I liked the idea of beautiful thin slices of octopus laid out on a platter and dressed with lemon and olive oil. Here’s the video for you to see how it SHOULD be done.

I cleaned and cooked my octopus until is was beautifully tender. I even kept the delicious purple cooking juices to use in another dish.

I washed a water bottle, pierced some holes in the bottom and cut the top off.

Pulpo (1)

Then I packed in the tentacles, making sure to twirl them into an attractive pattern.

Pulpo (2)

Slits were cut into the top of the bottle then folded down.

Pulpo (3)

A weight was put on top of the beastie and it was left to chill and drain.

Pulpo (4)

So far so good, it even turned out beautifully from its plastic tunnel when required. It just didn’t keep its shape. Hmph.

I think I didn’t press it down enough, perhaps I drained off too much juice. But no matter. I cut it into rather chunky chunks, dressed it with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and parsley and it tasted wonderful.

Pulpo Carpaccio (4)

Big Man, on seeing it, asked where the pimentón and potatoes were (the usual accompaniments for Pulpo a la Gallega). I explained it was a different dish. He tasted, he smiled and said “Delicious, but you’ve cut it into really big chunks haven’t you?” He was lucky he didn’t get the native fisherman treatment.

Ten out of ten for taste, but it’s back to the drawing board for Chica and her Octopus Carpaccio when it comes to presentation.