In the same way that I ask my pupils to assess and improve a piece of writing in order understand good practice, in restaurants I often assess and mentally improve whatever dish I have been served. It’s a very informative (though, perhaps, quite annoying) habit.
Take yesterday for example. On the way back from our camping trip D & I had lunch in Ullapool. The Ceilidh Place is a café/restaurant/art gallery/music venue tucked away behind the village harbour. It appears to be a converted croft but you’d never guess that from the light interior. With lots of glass, wood and greenery and gentle jazz in the background, it’s a superb place for lunch. The menu is interesting; not your typical Scottish fare. I’ve eaten here many times before and have always been impressed by their food. Yesterday was no exception.
Despite having announced in the car that he was having a light, healthy lunch, D chose the French toast with bacon and maple syrup. Yum.
I chose the goat’s cheese and roasted vegetable open sandwich with a balsamic reduction. It was impressively presented and very tasty indeed.
Even though I enjoyed it very much, as I dug in I was mentally changing the sandwich.
Get rid of the butter for starters. Softer cheese, perhaps. Love the balsamic reduction. Rye bread! I’d like bitter or strong salad leaves instead of the pretty but bland… what is that leaf called? And courgettes are in season. I want some courgettes.
The result was today’s lunch. It might not have been better than yesterday’s lunch but it was more to my taste. Apologies for the poor picture – you can’t even see the sorrel – but I couldn’t wait to eat it.
Goat’s Cheese, Sorrel and Courgette Sandwich
Large slice or rye bread
Soft goat’s cheese
Handful of sorrel
Handful of flat leaf parsley
1 small courgette, sliced thinly length ways
50ml balsamic vinegar
For the courgettes:
Rub slices with a little olive oil and seasoning. Grill over a medium-high heat for 3 mins on each side. Cool.
For the balsamic reduction:
In a small pan gently simmer the vinegar until reduced by half. No more than this! The liquid will thicken as it cools.
Putting it together:
Spread the cheese on the rye bread.
Top with sorrel, parsley and courgette strips.
Drizzle with balsamic reduction.
The sorrel is from my garden. Grew it specifically because you can’t buy it in the shops here and I’d never tasted it before. It’s delicious – very bitter, almost lemony. Only problem is I have a huge amount of it. Any ideas as to how else to use it would be much appreciated!