Friday, 23 May 2008

Supper # 21 - Detchant, Northumbria. EGG FEST

Up towards the roof of England I go. I discover the most expensive diesel yet, £1.27 per litre, at Alnwick and tell the petrol station about this. "Oh well, you'd better go to Seahouses afore ye get to Scotland - it's only £1.15 and in the Highlands you'll be spending up ta £1.40". Gees. And these make up part of my daily concerns. Not much though, and when in such a relentlessly beautiful place as the Northumbrian coast the chief focus is on getting to the beach.

I continue on from Seahouses to Bamborough Castle, pay and display in the carpark and clamber the hill to gawp with wonder at this great handsome edifice. Down the sand dunes with their rustling grasses and out onto a great shimmering expanse of coast. The waves roll in one by one with a hypnotic roar, flinging salt out into the clear afternoon air. I want to sit and stare at the sea all night...but the chicken run is calling.

THE SET-UP: Christine and Katherine have kindly invited me to their family egg farm for dinner. I love eggs. Ever since I learned that they are the greatest natural hair stimulant around I've been wolfing them down most heartily. The ultimate? Soft poached eggs atop very crispy brown toast and a thick layer of salted butter in between.
We go over to check out the egg H.Q - Sunny Hill Farm. I've never been in a real chicken hotbed before and can't believe the frenzied atmosphere when we open the door. They go nuts, clucking away in their own special dialect. I wonder who's top bird and who the soldiers are - and which factions are in charge of checking out the visitors. Outside the reaction is the same - they're so curious! And the llamas in the next field look on in that bemused way, and the cows come storming over for a peek and the goats go nuts as we approach - it's all very high energy.

WHAT WE ATE: Dinner is ready when we get back. Katherine had turned up earlier with bags of ingredients - drafted in by Christine for the occasion on account of her being the best cook. She has made a Jamie Oliver recipe, "Fresh tagliatelle with sprouting broccoli and oozing cheese sauce". This is my first plate of pasta since departing London and I'm delighted. I could eat pasta every day quite happily and go by what Sofia Loren says: "Everything you see I owe to spaghetti".

It's a girls supper. Christine is house sitting at the main farmhouse whilst their folks live it up on the Med. Katherine has ditched her family for the night and Emma has come down from Berwick. The place is pristine - all domesticated and well organised. White wine is opened and we tuck in to the pasta. It's comforting, tasty and quite filling and I don't need any more as the night's pud could be quite hefty.

DINNER TABLE TOPICS: Christine's round the world egg-seeking scholarship - she went on a whistle-stop tour of major egg-producing places. I had no idea that white hens produced white eggs and brown, brown. I thought the Americans just bleached 'em up. But US eggs are washed which makes them more susceptible to bacteria, which is why they're so mad about keeping them in the fridge. And, this may sound a bit dumb also, but I didn't know that eggs were porous. Anyway, we don't just talk about eggs - most fascinating are Emma's stories about her time in Washington D.C where she'd just been nannying for the kids of a homicide detective. He used to take her down to Go-Gos to work on crowd control where she'd get an eye-full of the 'life is cheap' scene.

THE PUD: I jump up after the pasta and get to work on putting together a chocolate omelette - something I've never made before but which I'm keen to try with all these lovely eggs around. I make a chocolate kind of custard, cook it, flip it, then cover in Venezuelan hot choc sauce and a dusting of icing sugar. It's very eggy - I really like it. I think everyone else does too because we all have seconds. Next time I'm going to souffle the sucker though.

MY BED FOR THE NIGHT: It transpires that the house is normally a B&B and I'm put in the room with the stunning views of Holy Island. Sleep is a long comfortable breeze.


Anonymous said...

WOW, Nescafè's one thing but over a month without any pasta- Thank God for Katherine!!!

David Hall said...

Errrm, can you send me that recipe, NOW?!?? x