I am just back from my trip to Goa in India. I was feeling tired and very lack-lustre before I left, and the Air France flight from Paris to Bangalore did not help matters. The economy French meal ran out long before it reached my part of the cabin and we were served the alternative Indian vegetarian meal. If you can imagine boiled rice, cauliflower and potatoes with zero spice content you are unfortunate. It was the worst meal I have ever been served so I decided it was better to go hungry. When I arrived in Bangalore it was 2 am so I went straight to bed but a few hours later I was enjoying a lovely crisp dosa for breakfast and by lunchtime I was in Goa. Without stopping to unpack I headed down to the beach to eat marsala tiger prawns at Zeebop and I felt my spirits lifting as I gazed at the sea and drank cold Kingfisher beer.
Majorda in Goa is sleepy and relaxed but the Russian tourists have made themselves felt. There are some restaurant signs in Russian and the local taxi drivers have acquired a working knowledge of the language. At Vivenda English is the only language heard and Simon has an interesting selection of books in his bookcases, including offerings left by guests which sit on shelves labeled ‘shit lit.’ I spent a few days reading under the trees and evenings eating convivial dinners at the long table in the garden. It was magical and I soon felt all my energy flooding back. I shopped at FabIndia, visited the incredible bookshop ‘Literati’ and ate a delectable creative Burmese feast at Bomra’s. The choice of fish is inspiring so I could not resist going into the hotel kitchen and preparing Stuffed mussels, Roman Good Friday soup with the lovely shrimp and the Sicilian rice dish ‘Riso con gli angeli’. The chef is used to me invading his domain and one of the guests came in to help and learn. It was fun and I am already plotting my next visit. Celia and Ruben invited me to a delicious lunch at Palacio do Deao and we ate Celia’s lovely food with fado playing softly in the background, Years ago there was a popular English version entitled ‘I found my April love in Portugal with you’ and I must tell you the original is more enticing.
I am going to the UK in April to do a food consultancy and see a foot specialist to get a second opinion on my torn ligament. I will also catch up with family and go to the theatre to see Noel Coward’s ‘Relative Values.’ I am also planning a June visit to Stratford on Avon to see my favourite ‘Henry lV Parts 1 and 2.
My next Gourmet Adventure is Marrakech at the end of April and at the end of that I am spending a few days in Seville to eat tapas and listen to flamenco, and then at the end of May there is the Sicily trip. I will be repeating this in May 2015 and I will shortly be sending out details to those who expressed interest.
Zuppa del Venerdi Santo Good Friday Soup
Good Friday is not a public holiday in Italy and even 20 years ago I remember being really surprised to see people in restaurants tucking into their steaks and chicken. However in the past when Friday was still a “lean” day for the Church, this was traditional Good Friday fare for the Romans. It is much simpler than most fish soups and I happily recommend it for any day of the year.
1 kilo unshelled prawns, shrimps or lobster
2 litres fish stock made from the washed but discarded
heads and shells, 1 celery stick, 1 carrot, 1 small onion,
bay leaf, salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic
200 g peeled Italian tomatoes
2 whole salted anchovies or 6 fillets
4 Tolive oil
Clean the shellfish and make the stock by boiling all the stock ingredients together for 20 minutes. Heat the oil and add the finely chopped anchovy, garlic and parsley. Puree the tomatoes and stir into the fish stock. When the garlic begins to turn colour add the filtered stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Cut the shellfish into thin strips and add to the soup. Cook for a further five minutes then add the chilli pepper and check the salt.