Jun16

Chips with anything

Carry on, Anstruther

Anstruther mainWorthy though Gordon Brown is of respect, no doubt, I’ve never felt moved to make a pilgrimage to his native part of Scotland, Fife. However, this year, instead of zooming straight through the southern end of the country to the Highlands (by the way, have you tried butteries, Scotland’s splendid answer to croissants? They alone make a trip to Aviemore in the Grampians worth while, even if the snow isn’t always up to much) we decided to spend a week in a small village called Kilconquhar, about 20 miles from the PM’s home town of Kirkcaldy,

Fife is gorgeous. No terrifyingly gloomy peaks to conquer, but pretty hills, lovely valleys, plenty of fat cattle and sheep, and a relatively kindly climate. Scotland’s a month behind England and so there were bluebells, lilac, rhododendrons, peonies and masses of wildflowers everywhere. And you are never far from the sea, or at least the massive estuary that is the Firth of Forth, which offers wonderful empty and clean beaches, gentle headlands and pretty harbours. You’re also never more than a couple of feet from a golf course, with the granddaddy of them all, the Royal and Ancient at St Andrews, being merely the most famous.

Anstruther fish barHowever, the three of us, viz., The Beloved, Tipu the Collie and me, are keener on food than pursuing small white balls so we walked the coastal path, skirting the golf courses and stopping off at the fishing villages along the way. Anstruther rapidly became our favourite because there we found the wonderful  family-run Anstruther Fish Bar which serves (it’s official) the best fish and chips in Great Britain.

The haddock and chips were heaven. As if that were not enough, part of the shop is dedicated to selling glorious Scottish/Italian homemade ice-cream, with a suitably ambrosial one called “milk and honey” being Tipu’s favourite (The Beloved having sacrificed more than half of his cornet to the dog!!!!), while the creme brulée one was mine.

TB and Tipu share! an icecream

TB sacrifices perfect ice-cream to Tipu

Now you are probably hoping that I can give you the foolproof recipe for the Anstruther batter, which was the best I have ever eaten (light, extremely crispy and with a hint of spice), but I think batter is best left to people with a penchant for deep frying, such as fish and chip shops. But I can recommend that if you have ever have haddock that fresh (it was practically still swimming) you should cook it extremely simply and then make the best oven-baked chips in the world to go with it. Of course these chips will taste also wonderful with steak, chicken, pork, you name it.  Amazingly, they’re pretty healthy too! This quantity serves two.

Chips to go with your very, very fresh fish

  • Two large red or King Edward potatoes
  • Thyme
  • Chilli flakes
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Cut the scrubbed but unpeeled potatoes into thick wedges. Put them into a non-stick baking tray and scatter thyme sprigs (dried thyme is fine too), chilli flakes, salt and pepper over them. Tip on roughly a tablespoon of olive oil and toss so that the potatoes are well coated. Bake for about 20 minutes and then eat with a dish of garlic mayonnaise on the side.

(To make garlic mayo really quickly, just dollop some decent quality bought mayo into a small bowl, add a squashed clove of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and a grind or two of pepper. Not as good as the real thing, but not bad at all.)

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