Have you noticed that sometimes in life you may learn or bump into something new and, as soon as you have, that something seems to keep re-occurring for a while making you end up wondering how you ever missed it for so long? No? Stop reading now. 🙂
At the end of our 2011 autumn trip to La Belle France, we arrived back in Normandy a day ahead of schedule and, with a day to occupy before our ferry, decided to visit Dieppe for the first time. All I knew of Dieppe prior to that concerned an abortive military invasion by the allies during the second world war. Now I know more. Dieppe has a magnificent Saturday street market and an attractive harbour surrounded by several popular seafood restaurants. We called in to one of the restaurants for lunch and noted that we were lucky to have arrived early; most tables were booked and we had no reservation but we did get in. [Note: in future, make a reservation.]
The spécialité de la maison [house speciality] as a starter at our chosen restaurant was foie de lotte [monkfish liver]. The first thing I do at my relatively rare visits to restaurants, particularly in a foreign country, is to scan the menu for main ingredients that I’ve never eaten before. Here was a grand example of just that; other than cod liver oil capsules being forced down my neck as a child, I’d never come any where near eating fish liver. Francine fancied it too; we both ordered it. It was served cold and tasted unlike anything we’d previously eaten. It seemed to me to have a very slight hint of vinegar in the flavour. I’ve no idea how it had been prepared but we both liked it a lot. [lotte – get it?] 😯
Earlier this year in Spain, our UK neighbours arrived while we were house-and-dog-sitting and invited us to dinner at their hacienda. Dinner was to be a Rick Stein [Ed: all hail!] recipe involving rice, grilled red peppers and monkfish – essentially something like a monkfish and red pepper paella. Our neighbour bought a monkfish from the local Mercadona supermercat [or supermeerkat, as we like to call it]. Unlike in England, where many foodstuffs are painfully sanitized, said monkfish came complete with (ugly) head and liver. In sensible Spain, one is expected to make stock from the head and eat the liver. Naturally, these expectations were not set by anyone hailing from England. Mr. Neighbour froze the accessories and just used the monkfish tail, which is all we ever get to see in our sceptred isle.
During previous trips here, we’d noticed foie de lotte on sale in the Super-U supermarché down in Mirepoix. Today we saw it again. “Oh what the hell”, we thought adventurously, and went and bought some. Being a “spécialité de la maison” in Dieppe, I was expecting something relatively pricey but no, it was dirt cheap at a mere €7.xx per kilo. Having discussed various methods of preparation, still not knowing the Dieppe restaurants secret, we decided to serve it as a salade tiède [warm salad] with lardons over lettuce. Quite good it was, too, though I think I’d cut it thinner next time. I’ll stop short of claiming it to have been very good; calves liver is very good and has one gasping for more. Calves liver is also much more expensive and rightly so.
I’d still like to know how the foie de lotte had been prepared in Dieppe. 😉