Sunday, 21 July 2013

And the occasional ice cream

If you saw me you would guess that I'm no stranger to a square meal. I love food and all its accompaniments. I spend a lot of time thinking about it; my most reliable memories of any occasion are what I ate and what I wore. It's a family thing. I call Papa Starke and he tells me what he's cooked this week, Me and Mr Starke still go back to the restaurant where we had our first date (though at the time we didn't know that's what it was). After a picky start in life, Master Starke was described as having "a canny appetite" admiringly by the waitress in the GNER restaurant car. The Glamour Puss is an aberration but Prof. does his best to corrupt her.

As a child I was (too) well fed, Mama Starke cooked every day; we all had our tea together when Papa S. got home and then on Tuesdays he cooked when Mama went out. I particularly loved the sweet stuff and though I wasn't allowed "trashy" i.e. cheap chewy or hard sweeties I managed to keep the dentist busy with my diet of "pop", biscuits and home baking. This was South Wales in the seventies so our raw materials were limited, strawberries and cream were usually tinned and as we didn't get a fridge freezer until I was seven ( the box made a brilliant slide down our steep back garden) and a shop with a frozen food department 'til I was ten, ice cream was most often a take away treat not a dish eaten at home. My favourites then were "Funny Feet" and when I was flush with pocket money a "Heart". Both of these are long gone and were possibly at opposite ends of the ice cream on a stick spectrum. The first a highly synthetic confection, in the shape of a comedy foot complete with smiling face and in a chocolatey flavour, the latter more sophisticated, a dark chocolate heart around vanilla ice cream with a red ripples at the centre. There was another with red jelly inside but I can't remember its name.

As an adult I'm not a massive fan of ice cream, it's never my first choice for pud, all too often it leaves a nasty after taste but I still love the idea of ice cream. I'm a huge sucker for the image of the Passeggiata; strolling around late at night with an ice cream. Summer hols this year were on the Ile de Re, based in St Martin where there just happens to be a famous ice cream shop (or artisan glacier if you're being posh) La Martiniere.


Caramel fleur du sel/ nougatine and crunchy bits of caramel - yum!

Even on the colder days there was a queue. I liked wondering at the flavours, although Poppy? The only poppy product I could think of was far less innocuous than ice cream. And then Schtroumpf, that means Smurf doesn't it? and it was blue, poor little things.

I've just checked the website, it doesn't list poppy (Coquelicot) maybe that was just my feverish imagination; also the Smurfs are in a sorbet not an ice cream.


Back home we've been enjoying gorgeous weather, last weekend we were "doon the watter" in Rothesay. There the local ice cream also has a famous name, Zavaroni but comes in one flavour, vanilla but a variety of presentations. For the record Mr Starke favours the "99", me the double nougat wafer, did I mention I like my food???

I don't have any pictures of those, sunshine and holding Dogstarke's lead made photography tricky but here's Rothesay and old and new ways of getting there.

Calmac ferry and the Waverley at Rothesay pier

Looking quite Mediterranean

Last night back home we went out for a drink and stayed for dinner, at a restaurant not some unsuspecting friend's house. And how did we finish our meal? With the ideal dish for the undecided, Affogato, as our waiter observed, coffee and dessert together. Vanilla ice cream and espresso, perfect. Sweet and bitter, just what I liked about those "Hearts" back in Wales.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

And sometimes retraces her steps

But not very often, I'm scared of spoiling happy memories. So it was unusual for me to make a return visit to two restaurants on one holiday. Good or bad? We'll see

Walking around a slightly damp St Martin on our first night I'd been tempted by Le Tout du Cru tucked away down an alley marked Cinema. It was bustling and seemed friendly but it was more than bustling, it was full and we were too hungry to wait and didn't fancy a "carry oot" so went elsewhere, but I'd really liked the look of it so we went back the next night. On a Sunday with most weekenders gone we didn't have a problem getting a table, not even with Dogstarke. Mr Starke had oysters, I had another speciality Fagots, a cross between a terrine and faggots but served cold. Despite the name there were some hot fish dishes and fish soup. The food was all great, the retro decor worked and there was a family from central casting at the next table. I was hooked and wanted some oysters for myself so we booked ahead for our last night...


And so to a pretty lunch spot, again away from the popular harbour area, sort of stumbled upon and then recognised as somewhere that had been recommended. It was guarded by this one

But he deigned to let Dogstarke stay. We had salads and wine and coffee and I was tempted but didn't succumb to the puddings.

There was a brocante next door, and plenty inside


And so to returning, we did first to Un Air du Famille. Which was still friendly and welcoming, still full of lovely bric a brac

and still serving the same menu, which wasn't quite as appealing in the evening, though this time I did enjoy a pudding. We had a good time, it was good value but not quite as lovely as it had seemed first time around.

Our last night and back to Le Tout du Cru. Again very welcoming. Again no change to the menu; the same "specials". Oh dear. But I shouldn't have worried too much. The oysters were superb, so was the mackerel and there was the added fun of watching a very large sports car trying to turn around in a very small road. We had a lovely night.

So should you go back? Perhaps...but it will never be the same. Though different can be better.


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

And enjoyed a lot of nice ones... England and France and then back to the Scottish Borders. All different and all good in their own ways. Probably too late for a chronological review so in no particular order, the highlights.

To start, very unexpectedly, cycling or more correctly tricycling. Now I think a little background information is needed here....Back in the mists of time when Mrs Starke was just a young thing, family Starke lived in a village but on a busy road and Mrs Starke was a clumsy child so she never had a bicycle. Other children had bicycles, one child had a tricycle, pale blue with a place for luggage. In a rash of generosity this child let Mrs Starke try out her trike. Now as well as having a busy road, the village was quite hilly.

Young Mrs Starke was unfamiliar with wheeled vehicles, she sat on the trike and steered downhill. Fairly quickly. Towards the road. She hadn't thought to ask how to stop it. The other children advised the brakes. Maybe not quite so politely. Mrs Starke didn't know where these were, so did the next best thing. There was a handy telephone pole.

Neither Mrs Starke nor the trike were unscathed.

And so there we were on the Ile de Re. A very flat island well equipped with cycle paths. We'd had a long drive to get there so weren't too keen on using the car; walking could get us only so far and the island's donkeys were strictly for the kids. To the rescue YooToo bike hire. They had caught my eye already with their spotty bikes, there were spotty tandems too but I didn't think that would be fair on Mr Starke. Outside the shop was a spotty Penny Farthing. And deep in the recesses was a trike, a lovely spotty trike with a basket on the back. I later found out these (well not with spots) had been the traditional way of transporting goods around the island. Perfect. Monsieur YooToo also produced a box, which he adapted as a fine seat for Dogstarke.

After a slightly bruising start (Trikes are heavy and I still had a tiny problem with the whole brake thing) we were off and managed trips to La Flotte and Loix. Once Dogstarke had swallowed the indignity of being in a box she enjoyed it too, particularly when I built up speed. If we got some slightly bemused looks at first, after all an adult...on a trike..they dissolved as soon as people noticed "Le Petit Chien" in her box.

Looking back to St Martin from Loix harbour


It was a little disappointing to find this

But luckily there was no such sign on the beach at St Martin and a refreshing paddle was enjoyed by (almost) all.
To be continued......

Saturday, 6 July 2013

And is back in her own again

But I have enjoyed lots of others, just haven't taken the time to blog about them. I'm a bit of a dilettante blogger, was having too good a time while I was actually away to write anything.

The memories are still clear enough tho' and there are plenty of pictures....

So as they say in France, "A bientot"