Saturday, November 04, 2006

Aldeburgh Poetry

Another day, another meal. We had a gorgeous fish pie for lunch today, mid-poetry workshop. Tammy attributes the recipe to Clodagh who pinched it from Sophie Grigson. The world's simplest fish pie, but success entirely depends on using absolutely fresh fish. (A doctor/scientist I met on the bus in London a couple of days ago adds that it must be a Sea Fish, for the iodine, which you need for a healthy thyroid.) Take your fresh fish and lay it in a buttered baking dish; mix up dry bread crumbs, lots of fresh parsley, some chopped garlic, salt and pepper and sprinkle it over the fish. Drizzle with melted butter. Squeeze lemon juice over all and bake at 220c for about 20 minutes until the fish is just done and topping is golden.

A slice of fondly remembered Suffolk Gold Cheese.

We had an entirely local meal in fact. Fish from the last hut on the left, on the seaside in Aldeburgh; local greens (rocket, Belgian endive, radicchio); local new potatoes. We finished with the cheese which was heavenly, particularly the St. Andre/vignotte, which is a lot like eating butter (it's triple cream, but who's counting).

Last night's start to the poetry festival included a free session, an excellent idea that didn't quite work. Various festival guests are invited to present 15 minute "Close readings" of poems. Last night's was Sharon Olds, presenting "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden. The reading wasn't quite close enough for my taste, although I like the poem, but I think it's a hard one not to like. We then went on to Jubilee Hall to hear three readers: Nick Laird, who'd won last year's Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize (part of which is a featured reading at the following year's Aldeburgh); John Powell Ward and Jenny Joseph, who was not wearing or reading anything purple. She did read a six minute poem towards the end of her set, which we debated later: is it better not to warn the audience that you're going to do this? I didn't mind the warning (sorry) but did mind that she chose this one to read next to last, when we were perishing from frozen bums and looking forward to a late supper. We didn't get out till just before 10pm.

We had been forewarned that last orders at our restaurant were at 10pm, so we had to sprint down dark streets to secure our plates at The Lighthouse. Ah, succulent Irish oysters with shallot vinegar; an excellent taramasalata; some gorgeous looking calves' liver with bacon; a crisp dirigible of halibut on home-cut chips; hot scallop salad; roasted cod - it all paraded by, and some of it even stopped at our table. The rioja was perfect. A nibble of Mike's walnut tart with butterscotch ice cream was enough to prove the excellence of the sweets. We'd earlier witnessed - but passed on - some brutally beautiful desserts in Orford: hot lemon cake with spooning cream; pineapple ice cream served frozen in a wedge of pineapple.

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