Sadly absent from my birthday dinner was Hugh Macdonald, designer of my website and long-time companion on my travels. Hugh and Meg have gone off to Najac to restore the old Notary's House. I am green with envy.
But in the midst of redistributing the mediaeval dust, they did not forget the friends they left behind. This morning I took delivery of a dozen Loch Fyne oysters and a tub of smoked mussels! Tonight we shall partake of Huîtres Marinières, an extravagance wickedly suggested by Colin Spencer in his indispensible Fish Cookbook. As luxuries go, I would rate it above caviar. It’s a simple matter of simmering onions, shallots and garlic in olive oil, adding the oysters along with a very generous splash of white wine, and simmering until the oysters open. It’s made simpler still by the huge frying pan with a tight lid that I bought several years ago at Dehillerin, the great Paris cookery shop:
Remove the oysters…
...add a nub of butter and reduce the juices to ambrosial essence of seaside euphoria.
January 12, 2007: Yet another Loch Fyne shipment from Hugh and Meg. Tonight I shall enjoy a pre-cassoulet oyster stew and yet another in a long series of imaginary conversations with my distant benefactors. Come April I shall be back with them in Najac, cooking up a storm.