It’s early evening. Sunday, late August warm and balmy.
I can taste the salt from the ocean hanging in the air and the lazy 6 o’clock sun has no mind to make way for the dark just yet. This is a magical time, day is slowly leaving and as it does it lights the way for night. Right here and right now I am crazily in love with this place…..things are just getting started.
The bus drops me at the bottom of the strip and continues on. It leaves me to enjoy a chug on its diesel fumes, my nose wrinkles but its no big deal, it’s familiar now and weirdly comforting having become part of the commute since I arrived here last April. As the bus slides away a cute kid pops up in the back window, smiles….then flips me the double bird. The little shit pulls a smile out of me so I return his salute with gusto which is instantly caught by his Mother….
Bars and food joints pepper the strip, good beer, good food and weird people are to be found here as the day turns to dusk………… and as the diesel fumes clear the next thing I smell is deliciously deep-fried.This is the smell of the strip. It’s unmistakable, fresh corn oil is crisping beer-battered cod and the steam of good malted vinegar is rising from piping hot first-batch chips, it catches the back of my throat……..its delirium inducing..
The entire strip is arrow straight and rises gently to the top square where the Kitchen is, where my Sunday night will begin and end and where the Goats Cheese and Courgette Special I prepped earlier is waiting elegantly in the walk-in chiller. But right now there is a walk along the strip to enjoy and to endure in equal measure. This is a tricky journey on an empty stomach, fried sea-food is a specialty here, these cold North Atlantic waters are abundant and the joints that sit on the strip take full advantage cranking out Crab Fritters, Tempura Scallops, Breaded lobster tails wrapped in soft white bread rolls oozing tartar sauce and ‘sneaks’ of lime. Spiced Hake Goujons, Oatmeal’d Squid and Beer Smoked Salmon…. you name it and the strip probably has it. So, my walk to the Kitchen is a self-inflicted assault on my senses, my belly grumbles as Moon Dance wafts out of Izzy’s Coffee Pit.
I have business at Izzy’s before my shift starts.
Isabella is the daughter of Irish-Italian ice-cream magnet Gianni Marelli and she grinds the greatest coffee on the coast..that is my business with her. We’ll exchange flirtations, she’ll tell me she wants me as chef for her ‘impending’ pizza business, I’ll tell her she can’t afford me and she’ll tell me she’ll marry me if I do before finally making me a ‘High Voltage’ – a blunt Americano charged with 3 shots of killer espresso. And like her junkie I’ll grab it and scuttle up to her roof-deck where a weather-beaten lounger facing a dying sun will be my vantage point and solitude until service. I’ll shoot up with Volts, smoke Reds and watch the strip come alive……
My Goats cheese special will take pride of place on the ‘board’ tonight, this is a first for me..until now only Chef and Tony have had food demeed good enough to hit the board, a process ajudicated by our waiters, waitresses and bar staff and a raw 50 quid note will hit my pocket if we sell more than 23 – the current record being 22 and held by Tony….. I need that 50…..
Its time to go. I push beaten up aviators onto my face, sling my gear bag over a shoulder, light a Red and set off up the strip…this is my life…and right here and right now it is dam perfect.
♠Baked Courgette with Goats Cheese and Sun-Blushed Tomatoes♣
Prep time: 20mins ♦ Cook Time: 30mins ♦ Total time 50mins (ish) ♦ Serves 4
♣WHAT YOU NEED♥
2 large courgettes or 1 large marrow
Godo quality Goats cheese
100 grams sunblushed tomatoes
100 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 glass white wine fresh basil
♠HOW YOU DO IT♥
Kick off by lightly oiling a roasting tray, then cut the courgette into 2cm wide rounds then remove the centre leaving just a courgette ‘ring’.
Place the courgette rings in the roasting tray and liberally dress with the olive oil, season well then fill the centre with the tomatoes.
Lug a generous amount of the olive oil into the roasting tray along with the wine and ripped shredded Basil then sling into a medium oven for 30 minutes or until the marrow is soft…but not mushy.
5 minutes before the end of the roasting place a generous ‘knob’ of the goats cheese on top of the roasted tomatoes and finish back in the oven until the cheese begins to fall ie go oozy.
FANCY A BEER? TRY THIS: