A masterclass in fish
As wintery Sunday morning sun streams through the windows of the first floor of Westland Place, the building nestled at the end of a cobbled square in East London that houses Jamie's flagship restaurant Fifteen, myself and eleven guests are welcomed at the door by some seriously gargantuan cases of fish - fish, I'd go so far to say, that could be more accurately desribed as monsters. Four feet long with fanged mouths gaping, and nestled amongst ice, various shells and plenty of comparatively diminutive relations of all shapes and sizes. We're here, thanks to the ever-prolific Danny McCubbin, whose amazing efforts are raising money for San Patrignano (http://www.sanpatrignano.org/en), to learn the basics of proper preparation of these beasts, and taking us through it is Kevin Crawley; a man so passionate about his craft he literally tells us with a handful of squid that he believes he has the best job in the world. Kevin supplies Jamie's restaurants, as well as countless others, with fantastic fish from his headquarters in Brixton, where he works incredible hours doing, in part, what he's here to show us today.
Kevin begins the session by butteflying a mackerel, as quickly and effortlessly as one spreads jam onto toast. As the class gets underway, with a walk through the different kinds of British flatfish and hands-on lessons in correctly peeling and preparing prawns, shelling scallops, gutting sardines and the fastest method any of us have ever seen for cleaning out and trimming a squid, the sumptuous smell of a coconut and aubergine curry that Danny has been preparing since the night before wafts in from the kitchen next door. Our own gorgeous kitchen is awash, however, with the sounds and almost palpable excitement of people getting their hands dirty and learning to connect with a kind of food they love.
Two hours flies by, and before long our prepped squid, prawns and scallops are scattered into Danny's curry for two minutes, before they're served to the hungry newly-made fishmongers at a long table clad in a white cloth, and enjoyed over bottles of crisp white wine. We've prepared our mains, too, although Danny is again responsible for the cooking; lemon sole, baked with chilli, prawns and salt, and served over a bed of home-made roasted potato chips. It's not over yet, though; our meal is played out by gorgeous individual chocolate mousses, made totally by hand by one of the young apprentices from San Patrignano - another of Danny's projects. Kevin offers us as much fish as we can physically handle, and not one person leaves without a smile on their face.
A big thank you to Danny for making it happen, and to Kevin for being such a triumphant master of ceremonies - looking forward, hungrily, to the next one!
Sounds realy cool. Last curry I did was a dry crab curry from great escape, realy nice, not expensive. Big up Danny and San Patrignano.
Wow what an amzing meal.
Very interesting. Glad you got so much out of it. I hope you didn't make Danny go near the fish.