When I was younger I remember local fisherman coming to the door every morning with a massive quantity of fish, the quality of which was unbelievable. One of the most popular was sea bass, a very meaty fish with firm flesh, which is equally delicious whether grilled, pan-fried, braised or baked. Versatility and tasty, they are available all year round, although it’s best to avoid them in March to June when they are spawning. Other favourites were sardines, nutritious oily fish, which will grilled or barbequed whole, or made in bouillabaisse and ling, which are perfect for fish pie. These days they are much in demand and therefore over fished, so I only buy them if they are line caught and have them occasionally as a treat.
The sustainability of fish is a big issue these days and one that we need to consider. At The Vineyard, we try to make sure we buy from a sustainable source. It is very important that we find the right suppliers who will provide us with the best possible fish that is also sourced from sustainable stocks. It is all too easy to forget that most species are over fished, and therefore becoming not only expensive, but increasingly rare. So, for, example, we buy hand-dived scallops, not dredged ones, line-caught not net-caught fish, and farmed, but organically reared fish, where possible.
We currently have hand-dived scallops on the menu served with vegetables “à la grecque” and walnuts, and also many other fish dishes; fillet of Cornish cod, Heirloom tomato, ratte potato, chive, fillet of Scottish salmon, aubergine, kumquat, lime and South Coast turbot, girolles, rocket, chicken jus. View our current menu. Our food and wine matching dinners are also proving popular and I have included a particularly lovely turbot dish on the Clarendelle dinner menu on 25th September. Discover more about this dinner
I can’t stress how necessary it is to buy fresh, quality produce from a good source. A fish should be firm to the touch and its skin and eyes should look bright – dullness or discolouration denote it is past its best. And smell it – a fresh fish has clean, not overly ‘fishy’ odour, and sea fish often smell slightly salted or like seaweed. Lobsters and crabs should look undamaged and feel heavy for their size, while shellfish should have tightly closed shells.