The Sussex coast from Rye and Hastings through to Selsey and Chichester offers an abundance of fish and seafood (read our review of the Gallivant in Camber). So, what’s in season right now? Late spring and early summer are a great time for fish-lovers; bream, mackerel, cod, pollack, sole, bass, crab and lobster are all prevalent off the south coast and can be found at independent restaurants and good fishmongers such as BNFS (South Quay, Basin Road South, Portslade, Brighton, BN41 1WF, 01273 430646) and Veasey & Sons (17 Hartfield Road, Forest Row, RH18 5DN, 01342 822906).
Of course, always look to how the fish has been caught and whether it’s sustainable – the mark of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is one to look for. Fish should be line-caught rather than through bottom-trawling which causes a huge amount of long term damage to the seabed ecosystem. And why not try some of the less popular – but equally as tasty – species such as gurnard, dab, sprats and mullet that are often a by-catch. There’s more to life than cod, salmon and tuna!
Liquor and ice cream: two of my favourite things, so the thought of combining them sends me into a gastronomic frenzy. This trend is everywhere at the moment with chefs, gelato makers and cocktail mixologists all getting highly creative with both sweet and savoury frozen flavours.
I spoke to my pal Seb Cole of Brighton’s Boho Gelato (Pool Valley, Brighton, BN1 1NJ, 01273 727205) and he tells me that alcoholic ice creams and sorbets are notoriously difficult to make. Alcohol is a melting agent so it’s a fine balancing act between getting enough in for flavour without turning the ice to slush. Stabilisers can be used but Seb prefers to play with the amount of sugar to get the optimum balance but that does mean a very limited shelf life for the product.
Over the past year or so I’ve tried some of Seb’s alcoholic gelato and granita: mojito, strawberry daiquiri, cucumber and gin; and a rather impressive one made from Ridgeview’s Fitzrovia sparkling rosé. Much better fun than a Flake 99 this summer…
Staying on the boozy theme, this is the year when English still wines finally seem to have matured. Whilst our region is renowned for its world-class sparkling wine made from the key Champagne grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, our still wines have been a little hit and miss.
We have some very talented wine makers in Sussex such as Simon Woodhead at Stopham Vineyard near Pulborough, Sam Linter of Bolney Wine Estate, and, more recently, Alison Nightingale at Albourne Estate who has been making waves with her stunning Bacchus, white Pinot Noir and Estate Selection blend.
In fact a little birdie tells me her Bacchus is now the top selling white wine in one of Brighton’s top restaurants. Check out a range of English wines at your local independent wine store or head to Waitrose who have the best selection of English wines of any of the major supermarkets.