I've had a busy week on the water with the 707 yacht UK Nationals happening at Granton this year; their first time in Scotland.
I volunteered my services in the pit of Synchro
; one of the boats sailing down to the regatta from Port Edgar,
and thanks to Rachel's indefatigable campaigning we also acquired the helming skills of the incumbent, and five-times
champion Jon Powell and his other half, sailing journalist and former editor of
Practical Boat Owner
, Sarah Norbury.
It was fascinating watching him handle the boat, especially at the start where he managed to authoritatively stake out his space
whilst keeping the boat moving slowly but under control for an astonishingly long time barely feet from the line.
I hope I picked up some good tips for getting a boat to the front of the pack.
Though Jon was surprisingly uninterested in the general sail and rig settings,
other than the jib car position and getting the mainsail as high as possible,
very keen on making sure the forestay was extended as far as it would go,
and he did tweak the shroud tensions whenever he felt the boat wasn't moving as it ought.
He was also quite critical of the parlous state of Synchro's bottom when we craned it out to give it a clean.
Which I thought was in pretty smooth shape; shows you what I know.
Despite holding Jon down to only a fifth place, I hope I made a better fist of volunteering as crew than
I did volunteering for the Competitor Management Team :( Apologies to Dara O'Malley who did a superb job of managing without me.
I particularly enjoyed sailing Synchro single-handed down to Granton; I rigged myself an auto-helm by tying shock cord to the tiller handle,
so I could go forward and fly the spinnaker and everything!
Very smooth, apart from its occasional inclination to furiously round up once I had my weight on the bow.
I quickly learned how sensitive a 707 is to being steered by moving weight around to change the trim.
At least, it is when the tiller doesn't move. Much.
I'd considered introducing our Southern guests to some traditional home-made
, but I just didn't have time to get round to it.
Even my packed sandwiches were pathetic affairs of supermarket white bread and sliced packet ham, but spurred by Rachel's scathing criticism
I stayed up extra late to make some taramasalata
from the smoked cod roe I just happened to have lying around, as you do,
and a Very Tomato Bread
that I thought might make some tasty sandwiches
with a bit of lettuce and that coddy roe flavour.
My taramasalata sandwiches usually have sliced tomatoes in them anyway.
Hopefully I redeemed myself?
Isn't it amazing how shopping for a single ingredient can so rapidly snowball into a fridge-full of tenuously unrelated ingredients?
Or is that just me?
Take the cod roe.
After my recent, and very impressive, visit to Martin Wishart's
I decided to have a go at reproducing Wishart's astonishingly airy beetroot macaroons with their horseradish cream topping.
First I needed horseradish, which is of course unobtainable from any brand of Fucking Supermarket™
so I resorted to scouring Edinburgh's various hippy-food stores.
I started with the dependably earthy Real Foods
which did have in stock some vastly knobbly roots labelled wild
I gave them a good scrape with my nail, but they didn't yield any of the excoriating pungency I normally associate with horseradish,
plus I didn't fancy trying to peel their twisted convoluted shapes, so I passed.
I did however spot a leafy bunch of beetroots and a bag of lovage. A massive
bag of lovage.
Now I know from my visits to the Star Inn
how nicely a hint of lovage can go with spinach and samphire, so now I had to buy some spinach.
And some samphire. And still, of course, the horseradish.
Fortunately the ever-reliable Tattie Shaws
came up with the horsey goods,
as well as the spinach.
The samphire was proving more tricky since my local fishmonger
had run out,
and after visiting all the others within cycling distance I decided to leave it for later in the week.
On to the next macaroon ingredient - powdered egg whites.
An online search, a pilgrimage to Waitrose and a typically inept offline search through their shelves
finally turned up Dr. Oetker's surprisingly small packet
Not a completely wasted search though - I was excited to discover a pack of smoked cod roe
which I've been vaguely looking for so I could try making up some taramasalata.
It also gave me the idea of trying to blend it into the horseradish cream to top those macaroons,
instead of the smoked haddock alternative I'd had playing at the back of my mind.
The cod roe was sitting next to a small jar of salmon eggs, so I bought that too.
I've had a salad
in mind for them,
but that's a whole
other shopping expedition and the jar seemed like the kind of thing that would keep quite a while in the fridge.
Over the next few days I also tracked down samphire at my favourite fishmonger
near my work (though they don't do cod roe!) and picked up a fillet of Sea Bass to go with,
stocked up on lemons and crème fraîche and set to on my dinner.
Since I now had such a plentiful supply of novelty ingredients I thought I might try a few fun variations on the samphire/spinach/lovage combo:
- regular: Blanched the samphire, made up a beurre monté (pacé Martin Wishart)
and sweated a half-dozen sliced lovage leaves with the spinach. Drained, re-blanched the samphire and mixed together.
- horseradish: Grated some horseradish, lubricated it with lemon juice and mixed it into the samphire/spinach/lovage.
- salmon eggs: Quite beautiful - glistening like orange jewels on a froth of emerald silk.
- cod roe: Stir in some buttered cod's roe. No need for the spinach here -
it works better without.
And I still haven't made the macaroons!