Monday, 23 December 2019

Smoke on the water

Forgive me father, it's been a while since my last blog post. Mostly as I've got toothache and the Ewing's got a new job. I've relayed things in that order as (as you might imagine) that's the priority they are receiving in our household. 

While it hasn't been all fun and games recently - lots of tinned ravioli and antibiotics for me and lots of long hours for her - I was hoping that going to the seaside for a celebratory seafood lunch (some of the Ewing's favourite things) in sunny Southwold with me (her favourite thing) would be just the ticket for both of us.

The Sole Bay Company can be found by Southwold Harbour, a pleasant stroll from the pier (the Under the Pier Show is a must), along the main beach and across the dunes. Comprised of four semi-derelict fisherman's shacks knocked together, the interior is rustic yet comfy; with jugs of water (which the Ewing still contrived to miss) and rolls of kitchen towel laid on each table, alongside freshly cut flowers. 

To get to the loos you have to trek back outside and up some steps (all while remembering the code). So I was thankful for clement weather; and the fact I was on the antibiotics and therefore off the booze and able to navigate the shingle without incident.

While I might have had a pain in my tooth, I wasn't suffering alone. The Ewing also had a pain, this time self-inflicted, from bowling headfirst straight into a wooden post after being distracted by the fishmonger's slab that greets you as you walk through the entrance.

And who could blame her; it's a beautiful sight, featuring a spanking fresh array of locally caught fish and seafood, much of it smoked just next door. As well as being available in the restaurant there is also all available to take away and prepare at home.

Specials, slightly unnervingly, are chalked up on the sides of a huge fish tank that lines the dining area. On our visit, these included beer battered oysters and mussels, both of which the table next to us ordered, and both of which looked excellent.

And so to our drinks, and a toast to my very lovely, and very talented wife. A large glass of Picpoul for the her and a (non-alcoholic) Ghost Ship for me; brewed at the Adnams Brewery, not more than stone's throw away, and where we took a tour in 2014, on our last visit to town. 

The closest low-alcohol drink option back then was probably a bitter shandy, but no-booze is a much bigger thing now. I'm happy to report that this made the perfect option for someone who is off the sauce but still fancies a lunchtime pint, tasting commendably similar to the full ABV version.

To eat we chose a seafood platter; while they offer many set choices, many involve whelks and winkles, so we went off piste and created our own to avoid the rubbery lumps of cold sea snot that nether of us actually like.

Instead we chose a magnificent platter pield high with a whole smoked mackerel; a pile of shell on prawns, hot smoked salmon, a cromer crab; two crevettes; and two giant roll mops in their own silver sauce boats. There was also an, apparently, excellent warm loaf, served whole with a bread knife and plenty of butter. But you'd have to ask my wife as I could only nibble at a crust.

Even though I was under the weather, I rallied around when the food appeared and I can report that was all quite as excellent as it appeared; the mackerel and the tranche of bronzed salmon the colour of the winner of a reality show being particular highlights. There was also a small shoal of silvery sprats, a small oily fish that has fallen from favour which the Ewing beheaded with a flourish and swallowed with gusto.

Crustacean wise the duo of crevettes certainly looked the part, but at two quid each, didn't quite live up to the billing. Just order another portion of the sweet shell on prawns instead for the same price. And make sure you bring your wife to peel them for you....

Astonishingly, I only seem to have three of photos of the food - consisting of the fish platter taken from a different angles and the fish platter after the Ewing attacked it. I must have been ill. You can also see she (with a little help) did a pretty good job. I must also give her credit for patiently peeling things and checking for bones and shell and just patiently putting up with me generally; although that did meant she got the lion's share of the fish for herself. 

They are also more than happy to pack up any leftovers to take home, so she even got to enjoy the roll mops and the sprats with the leftover crusty bread the following evening. While I ate soup and yogurt and looked on with mixed envy/disgust.

A wonderful lunch with the most wonderful person, finished by a brisk walk along the sand. As you can see, the sea air certainly had some kind of effect on the Ewing's mood; or maybe that's just the result of having to put up with me. That's certainly one job she already excels at.