It was a late celebration for my birthday last month. My daughter Nicola couldn’t be with me then due to Covid restrictions (she lives in Worcestershire; I live in London) and this weekend was the first time I’d seen her – and her 2½ year old son Rufus – in over five months. Definitely celebrations were in order and Nicola offered to order a Rick Stein fish box for us to dine on one evening. She and her wife had one a while ago and thought it great. As it was part of my birthday present, she said I could choose any one I wanted, ‘the lobster, if you want’, and she would prepare everything on the night. So I went with the lobster. Well, who wouldn’t, if, like me, you love seafood.
We wanted to eat on Sunday evening but presumably they don’t deliver then as we were told it would arrive on Saturday. The accompanying wine arrived on Friday, which confused us slightly until Nicola checked her email again about the delivery.
We were given a one-hour window for delivery which was helpful and when the big box arrived, everything was well wrapped up and I lifted the cool bag straight into my fridge.
The wine was a white Burgundy. Delicious and one of my favourites!
And here is the Lobster Menu. Nicola didn’t use the YouTube link – she’s a great cook and was confident to follow the precise and good instructions on the other side of the menu, but it’s a good option to have if you’re not experienced at preparing seafood.
Here’s what we found inside the big silver bag. There was even seaweed marked ‘Display Only’ to set the scallops on when plated for the true restaurant effect. There was a very delicious small sourdough loaf to accompany, which we heated a little to freshen as we were eating the day after delivery.
My contribution to the evening was laying the table while Rufus was settled in bed. We both changed into smarter clothes to make it seem more of an occasion. Not as if we were going to some grand party, but going out to dinner in a nice restaurant. Perhaps even Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant … Candles were lit; by pure chance and not design I’d actually bought some Rick Stein table mats in the week, so we were definitely in the Stein-Cornwall mood.
Everything was so well planned and packed in the right size and quantities to put the dishes together, that the actual preparation was minimal. Nicola got it all unpacked and ready to the point of cooking and then made our first course: Grilled Scallops. The scallops were prepared and in their shells; the hazelnut and coriander butter was made into six small patties ready to be put on the top of the scallops. They just had to be put under a hot grill. And of course there was that seaweed to put on the plates first!
The scallops were wonderful; tender and sweet and the butter a perfect accompaniment, which we mopped up with the bread.
We were taking things nice and slowly, chatting, sipping our chilled white wine. After a little while Nicola got up to go and prepare the main course.
The lobster had been well enough prepared that you just had to lift the flesh out. I think preparing a lobster could be a bit intimidating for many, but nothing to fear here with Stein’s excellent preparation. The sauce for the Lobster Thermidor was all ready to be put in a pan and heated. Herbs had to be chopped and added with the lobster pieces when the sauce had warmed through and gently mixed together.
Then it’s spooned into the shells and some Parmesan sprinkled over the top.
There were gorgeous little new Cornish potatoes to be heated (they were parboiled). The filled lobster shells went under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes until it was all golden brown. There was a bag of green salad to go into a bowl with a portion of ready-made dressing. It looked splendid! And it tasted wonderful.
We took the chocolate pavé out of the fridge ahead of time a little so it wasn’t too cold. There was a biscuit crumb, crystallised peanuts, chocolate sauce and some Cornish clotted cream to accompany. Wow! The pavé was fantastic; such a brilliant way to end a great meal.
People are starting to get back to restaurants but it’s far from ‘normal’ and anyway, for us, we had a small child to think about, so being able to put this meal together once he’d gone to bed, light some candles, put on some gentle jazz and dress up a little … well it really was very special indeed. Not restaurant dining maybe but Stein quality; different rather than something less, and a fabulous way to spend an evening with my lovely daughter.