As the weather gets colder, I find myself reminiscing about my summer of fishing and festivals. For those of you who made it to my Food Rocks festival with your umbrellas, you would probably agree its gaining momentum each year with chef’s demo’s along with new and established producers from the West Country. These festivals are always a great way to showcase local producers and chefs especially in a great setting like Lyme Regis overlooking the sea.
This year was our fourth year in teaming up with Guitars on the Beach which brings together a great collaboration of food and music which is becoming ever popular at festivals across the country as it just makes sense with like-minded creative artists, this also brings a great crowd to Lyme.
The next thing on the food festival calendar is Seafood Week which raises awareness of the great seafood we have on our doorsteps in British waters. Being brought up in West Bay, Dorset, I’ve grown up with great fish and shellfish from an early age which many people seem to neglect or are just scared to cook with or eat.
Restaurants all over the country will be showcasing great British seafood during the week of 7th-14th October.
Following on from Seafood Week is the Dartmouth Food Festival which I take part in every year. On the first night of the festival (21st October) I cook a dinner at Mitch Tonks’ restaurant The Seahorse.
A big dish of mixed shellfish is a great indulgent dish to order in a restaurant or serve for a dinner party. You can really use any kind of shellfish, but try to limit the selection to about four varieties, or you will have too many different cooking times to contend with.
I like to serve the shellfish scattered with some seashore vegetables, to add that extra little taste of the sea. You can also use wild garlic leaves or hedgerow garlic instead of garlic cloves.
1 live lobster, weighing about 700g
2-3tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium or 12 queen scallops, cleaned, in the half-shell
500g cockles, clams or mussels (or a combination), cleaned
6 razor clams
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
A couple of handfuls of seashore vegetables, such as sea beet, samphire or sea purslane
2tbsp chopped parsley
Place the lobster in the freezer an hour or so before cooking to make it sleepy (deemed to be the most humane way of preparing live lobsters for cooking).
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
Heat a large roasting tray in the oven for about 10 minutes, adding the rapeseed oil for the last couple of minutes.
Split the lobster in half through the head and down the back, using a heavy, sharp knife, and crack open the claws. Season the lobster and lay flesh-side down in the roasting tray. Roast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.
Season the scallops and cockles (or ordinary clams or mussels). Add to the roasting tray and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Finally, add the razor clams, butter and garlic and roast in the oven for a further few minutes until they are just opened.
Meanwhile, plunge the seashore vegetables into a pan of boiling lightly salted water and blanch for 1 minute, then drain thoroughly.
Remove the roasting tray from the oven and toss in the seashore vegetables and chopped parsley. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve at once.