Well foodlings, the next time I blog I, big A and little Z (my two daughters) will be half way around the world in Vancouver, Canada. We’re off to visit my sister and her beau who are currently living there working in the animation film industry – very talented folk indeed. We are really excited to see them and the beautiful city, which I have not visited for 16 years so my memories of the place are a little hazy to say the least. We are going to check out what Vancouver has to offer on the food scene. I am expecting a great things mainly due to two key factors.
1) Vancouver lies on the sea so the seafood should be fresh, plentiful and hopefully inexpensive – although with that line of thinking you could be mistaken into thinking that we eat seafood all the time in England, but sadly we don’t.
A true cautionary tale: I was staying near Ullapool, in the very north west of Scotland, on holiday with my husband and some dear friends a few years ago and we wanted to buy some fresh seafood so we could have an evening seafood extravaganza in the comfort of our little rented cottage. We strolled into town in search of a fishmonger imagining there to be at least one brimming with fresh fish straight out of the sea. Ullapool, for those of you who have never heard of the place, is a small fishing town so it seemed an obvious assumption to make…..or so we thought.
The only fish we came across was a rather pathetic collection of fish in the Butcher’s shop of all places. We then thought that perhaps a local fisherman could sell us some of his catch, so ambled down to the harbour. We approached a boat that was hauling crates of fish about, certain that our luck was about to change. We then discovered these fishermen were not locals at all but were from Spain and the fish they caught was heading on a rather convoluted route via Spain and then, no doubt, back to London to be sold for a handsome sum. They were unable to sell us any, not even one measly little fish.
So you may ask why am I rambling on with my woeful tale……well the moral of the story is that even though a village, town, city sits on the edge of the sea do not expect to fed copious amounts of fresh, reasonably priced seafood, because it doesn’t always work that way, as we found out to our detriment in Ullapool.
2) Vancouver has the highest concentration of Chinese outside mainland China, mainly stemming from the fact that many Hong Kong Chinese upped and left post the British colony returning to Chinese rule on July 1st 1997. So my thinking is that the Asian influence in the food is going to be strong and therefore worth getting excited about.
As I am racing around packing and sorting out things for the trip I wanted to share a simple fresh recipe, which is perfect for a hot summer’s lunch or a dinner party starter. I had a few avocados which were close to being over ripe so I decided to give them centre stage for my recipe.
Serves 8 in small glasses
3 large ripe avocados
1 garlic clove, cushed
handful of ice cubes
450ml of vegetable stock, chilled
100 ml of sour cream
400ml of milk
1 tbsp coriander, chopped
tabasco, a liberally as you dare
salt and pepper
a few fresh coriander leaves, as garnish
olive oil, as garnish
Ingredients for the Salsa
5 tomatoes, diced and peeled and deseeded
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
handful of coriander
juice of half a lime
1. Mix the ingredients for the salsa together and chill in the fridge whilst you prepare the soup.
2. Start preparing this dish a couple of hours before you plan to eat it. If you prepare it too soon the avocados will begin to go brown, giving an unappealing look to the soup. Remove the stone and skin from the avocado and place into the food processor/blender along with the garlic, juice from 2 limes, ice cubes, vegetable stock, chopped coriander leaves and blend until smooth.
3. Then add the milk, sour cream, tabasco, and seasoning to taste. When you are satisfied that it has a smooth consistency place in a bowl and cover with cling film and leave in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
4. As the soup is thick in consistency, I prefer to serve it in small glasses and then to have the remainder on the table for people to then serve themselves.
5. Place a teaspoonful of salsa onto each serving with a coriander leaf and a few drops of olive oil and a little ground pepper. It has a unique zingy guacamole taste, which is balanced perfectly with the salsa.