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Does fresh mean I m fickle. I think it does!

As a chef I m constantly fighting one battle in my crusade in wanting to do the right thing. Food is without doubt always better, FRESH, but life, as we live it, does not allow us all to have that luxury. Private catering, however seemingly rarely has concerns about the financial implications surrounding th costs of that organic produce, and therore I find myself in this position, whether fresh, means more often than not, Live and left to deal with it!!!!! I m not sure whats happened over the years of sweating over a hot stove, but after said years of having to watch the head being taken from the body of a fresh lobster, conch pulled from its shell, or simply a fish being hooked and then dounsed in vodka in the hope that its drunk before being bopped on the head, I am no longer able to take on the task. IS THIS THE START OF VEGANISM!

NO, I m not a vegan, or vegetarian even, and I like to eat fish and the odd bit of meat, so I m in no position to point the finger, but just last week, whilst dining at a very sweet restaurant on a nature reserve, where the very obvious absence of toilets was more of a concern that the price of the fish platter and the enormous magnum of rose passing our table, I found myself in turmoil as I watched this octopus dice with danger as it wriggled itself onto the nearby rocks ankle deep in water. Whilst being tickled by various children and adults, before departing in one quick shock motion and then returning for another session of invariable love, to my horror I see the chef arriving with one very large chefs hat and even larger smile on his face. At that moment every killing I had made over the last few years seemed to engulf my whole being and as I let out a very embarrasssing Nooooooooooo, silent to myself but very loud to those surrounding our table, I realised I was prepared to jump into chilly waters to make a citizens arrest in French waters and save Oliver the Octopus from what was surely the chefs table. "I was wrong", I was very wrong! It seems Oliver was allowed to continue in his life and I decided that in fact he was just reminding us all that he had chosen quite smartly to live on the nature reserve where I m sure if he had two fingers on each of his eight legs, we would have recieved the bird with each of them. Others were not so lucky. I then enjoyed my very beautifully cooked tuna, grilled langoustine & tartin of ratatouille. ;-)

Whilst In Antigua this year, an island I know well, there are many who are in full support of its ability to grow some amazing organic fruits and vegetables. Jo has embarked on an amazing venture to supply micro herbs to an every growing yacht industry embarking on its winter charter season, whilst others have put soul into growing the best tasting rocket I think I may ever have pass my lips. One man who seems to have the most ridiculous green fingers is Audley, and each year, his land around the very modest home he built with his own bare hands, using string and plank for foundation plans, seems to host a new flurry of amazing fruits. Whilst others try to plant papau trees and Mango, talk to them throughout thier daily chores and perform the rain dance in the hope that they may bear fruit, Audley seems wave off such menial concerns. I have to show you these pictures of the very young but ridiculously fertile papau tree in his garden and give you an another killing free example of what fresh really is.

And finally today, there is this. SOCCA NICOISE! Socca is made from chick pea flour, olive oil and water. Its gluten free, high in protein, iron & fibre and really quite versatile. Its actually great for both savoury and sweet recipes, dumplings, tart bases etc but this very simple three ingredient recipe makes the famous Nicoise Socca, served in many restaurants as a bread alternative, or traditional drinking taverns to soak up the excess alcohol. You can add cheese to the top of it, grill it or simply douse it in rosemary, olive oil and rock salt. No killing required and quite delicious.

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