It feels like hours, days even.
I’m bored outta my brains and fidgety…
My clinically low attention span bottomed out long, long ago….
I’m really flying on fumes at this stage…..just barely managing to keep it together….this is a bad place for me to be right now…..I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough control over my emotions to adequately deal with this situation…in truth I’m really not sure if this is survivable.
My palms are sweaty and I can feel the thump of my heart against my ribs…I have no idea what adrenaline looks like but I’m pretty sure mine is neon green right now and as volatile as jet fuel……the slightest friction may result in personal combustion…….for the first time in my life I’m utterly convinced that I am in a genuinely life threatening situation….I’m 6 years old and waiting on my Father to get his shit together so we can go food shopping with my Uncle Paddy…..but he’s just faffing around the house looking for car keys like a shuffling Labrador trying to find the floor….I’m going to fucking implode! Has a 6-year-old ever actually died from this..I wonder..am I to be the first..
I don’t mean ‘shopping’ as in that menial weekly grocery shopping that is nothing more than zombie-ing behind a wonky trolley around a soul-less supermarket like a trained rat stuffing said trolley with nondescript items that claim to be food and committing the ultimate sin of putting cost before quality…and being happy about it. No…..not that….this is Man-Shopping..this is 3 generations of my family pitching into a beaten up Ford Bingo and heading out across 2 Counties to hunt for flesh and bone and dead animal…….hung and dry-aged, perfectly butchered, trimmed and tied by large, round, red-faced menly men in bloodied aprons with steely knives and legendary stories…….there will be blood……and it will be mixed with grains and spices and abundant fats and form the basis of my breakfast tomorrow morning.
Our destinations will be numerous on this weekly ‘adventure’…. because this is exactly what it is….adventure. Adventure in people, places and food..this is what it always should be and this is what was stamped on my DNA from this early age. We will visit Farms, Green Grocers, Men’s clothing stores and my own favourite… for reasons to many to mention.. the Butchers shop.
By the time we get there…there being Turley’s famed Butchers – there will be men in sheep-skin coats and pristine leather ‘dealin’ boots smoking and laughing at the door. This is a regular Saturday for me, this is a place I feel safe, curious, involved and even manly in. My Uncle will hold court leaning on the glass counter engaging these men and the ones covered in blood behind the glass – the conversation is always well above my station and the words are just noises to me, I don’t concern myself with it but the subtle nuances, the ebb and flow and the rise and fall in pitch inform my young brain that this is serious business. I know all of these men mainly by their pseudonyms ‘Blue Tail’, ‘Bonso Dog’, ‘Clicky’ – ‘business’ is being conducted here – the word ‘smuggle’ catches my attention a lot, at age 6 it’s a funny word but it means nothing to me…I am, of course now more informed these days and it raises a smile when I think back to exactly what the ‘business’ being conducted actually was and wonder if ‘accessory after the fact’ would apply to me now decades later?
But, my interest and attention lies behind the glass, between spinning around my Fathers legs and receiving ruffled hair from the men I pin my nose to it ..it separates me from the flesh – shin, shank and flank – heart, liver and lung – sirloin, striploin and rib all arranged in bloodied plastic trays. Its like one giant bovine jig-saw waiting to be reconstructed….or preferably slung on a BBQ.
Occasionally my Uncle turns his attention to the meat and inquires after its origin – his interest is focused on shin beef, almost black and cut through the bone East to West to expose the Marrow, essential for a good beef stew……. it leaks into the stock and red wine during slow cooking adding critical middle notes to the dish which is then accented by the high notes of the root vegetables and the bass notes of the meat itself. The Butcher challenges Uncles Paddy’s selection and offers instead beef cheek as an alternative. He declines and has the shin wrapped in wax paper and tied with white butcher’s string that will be bloodied by the time we get to the pub….the last stop before the trek home.
When the business is done we will leave with enough meat for the week, I am charged with its safe transportation from the saw-dusted butchers shop to the back seat of the Ford via the Terry’s pub. The meat packages are perfectly tied, Christmas presents never looked this good…they are also heavy and cold. I’ll sit with men from South of the border and sip fizz and crunch on crisps as they quaff room temperature Stout and iced Jameson Whiskey.
Decades later I still have the same boyish fascination with butcher’s shops and I hold them and their proprietors in the highest of regards and esteem – I was lucky enough in my life to be taught where quality comes from…a lot of people have not – but with this quality comes more….life…..
BAVETTE STEAK AND SALSA VERDE RECIPE:
♠ BAVETTE STEAK AND SALSA VERDE ♣
Prep time: 10 mins ♦ Cook Time: 4 mins ♦ Total time 15 ish mins ♦ Serves 2
♣WHAT YOU NEED♥
- Bavette steak
- Fist full of fresh basil and Parsley
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 tbs capers
- 1 tbs cornichons
- 3 Anchovy fillets
- A few lugs of top end Olive oil
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 tps white wine vinegar
♣HOW YOU DO IT♥
For the Salsa Verde
Put all of the Salsa Verde ingredients into a food processor and blitz to a loose paste – taste, season and correct to your own liking and set aside in teh fridge
For the Bavette Steak
So this is tricky – the steak is a loose cut – its not as dense as say fillet or Rib eye so it needs only a short cooking time and should be served no more than medium rare, preferably on the rare side of that!
Brush the steak all over with good olive or rape-seed oil and make sure it is at room temperature. Season it really, really well with salt flakes (crushed down so they dont just fall off) and freshly cracked black pepper.
Crank a heavy based, shallow frying pan to full heat to the point where it is impossible for you to hold you hand over it for more than 1-2 seconds.
Add a good knob of real butter to the hot pan, let it melt and spit then add the steak straight in and do not touch it for at least 1 minute – flip then 1 minute on the other side.
That’s it – pull the steal out and let it rest for about 2-3 minutes. The nut butter will have given the steak a good degree of colour as its only in the pan for a short time.
Serve with teh Salsa Verde- chips, green lentils or my own personal favourite fat onion rings.
FANCY A BEER: TRY THIS