Sometimes you just have to go with flow. I’m a ‘with the flow’ person in some circumstances and not in others. In my work as a book editor I have to be quite disciplined and work with great attention to detail and meet strict deadlines. No ‘going with the flow’ just because it’s a lovely sunny day and I feel like taking off. I’m a fairly strict timekeeper, rarely late (I’ve even terrified my grown-up kids by being a few minutes’ late and them thinking I’ve had an accident) and not terribly tolerant of people who are habitually late.
There are times, however, when I happily go with the flow, especially on holiday. If I’m going somewhere new, I like to do some research about where I might want to eat, places to visit, sights to see, but I never have a full and strict timetable. When I’m away, particularly returning to a place I know well, I’m happy to throw the map aside and wander (click here) with few plans at all. I went to Crete for the first time few years ago and when the weather was disappointing, destroying all my hopes of lazy hours doing little on the beach, I did just wander and go with the flow one day (click here).
Today was flowing only in the sense of keeping to a fairly strict timetable to begin with. I worked for a couple of hours to finish off an editing job and return by email before 10.30. Then I joined an art history course I’m doing over 10 weeks with Marie-Anne Mancio of Hotel Alphabet. Marie-Anne is a brilliant and inspiring lecturer who I’ve done a few courses with at City Lit in London and have joined her short courses abroad, first in Genoa and then Malaga. I’ve been reluctant to do any courses in these pandemic times, not fancying doing them on Zoom, but knowing Marie-Anne already made it easier to do this. And I’m so glad I did because it’s fantastic.
After the course and some lunch, I had a couple of hours spare before picking up grandson Freddie (6) from school. The sun of recent days had given way to rain, so I took off down to the high street with an umbrella, wanting to pop into the M&S Simply Food and then Corto Deli for a couple of things. While wandering round M&S, where I’d only gone for eggs and blueberries, I spied some packs of sea bass. I’d had something simple and quick in mind for supper, which I’d cook after taking Freddie home. For Freddie’s supper I had a plate of different cheeses (he loves the choice! Particularly if I can produce goats’, cow’s and sheep’s cheese so he can compare them. He’s gained the family’s foodie appetite), good bread and some salad stuff. But then … we both love sea bass … go with the flow, I thought … and the sea bass came home with me.
I gave Freddie the choice: the plate of cheeses or sea bass? Silly question! He even chose to have some tenderstem broccoli with it and new potatoes. He ate it all enthusiastically, so I was pleased I’d got this treat for us.
Home later than usual after dropping Freddie back at my son’s due to sitting with a cup of tea for a chat and having baby cuddle time with 4 months’ old Alex, I was pleased that not only did I have a treat – but one that was super fast to cook!
I decided to make a summery tomato salsa to go with the fish (ignoring the lack of the summery weather). Just outside my kitchen door, herbs are bursting into life fast and so I picked a handful: chives, mint, flat-leaf parsley and some basil from inside on a sunny windowsill.
Inside I skinned and deseeded a large tomato and chopped it, finely chopped a small shallot and the herbs. I put them in a bowl with some capers.
I drizzled over a little extra virgin olive oil; squeezed over some fresh lemon juice. Added a pinch of sea salt and a grating of black pepper. Then mixed it all together.
Some new potatoes went on to boil and some tenderstem broccoli was prepared and put in a saucepan ready to be turned on just a few minutes later.
I cut across the sea bass fillet about four times with a very sharp knife, just cutting through the skin to the flesh below. I generously shook over a fish seasoning mix from Bart, careless of any laziness attached to this ‘cheat’ rather than making my own.
I put the tiniest amount of olive oil in a pan, heated it and then laid the sea bass fillet in the pan, skin-side down.
I cooked it over a medium heat until I could see the edges of the fish turning white, showing it was well on the way to being done. I flipped the fish over with a large spatula and briefly cooked the other side.
I transfered to a plate with the vegetables. Then I spooned over the salsa. It definitely looked inviting!
It was so delicious and the salsa really brought a fresh, summery taste to the dish. It was all so simple really; quickly prepared (even the salsa). But it did seem gorgeously indulgent for a midweek supper and I was so glad I’d gone with the flow.