Smoking is Addictive!
Now here’s a shocking confession: I’ve never liked Christmas. There, I’ve said it. Everyone else I know seems to revel in it but to me it’s all cloying fakery, kitschy decorations, queues in the shops, indigestion and sugar overload. By early December I am already heartily sick of tinsel, baubles, the colour red, Santa, short days and George Michael having given his heart away last Christmas. Honestly, does the man never learn? Give me the that fresh new feeling of a virginal New Year spreading itself out in front of me with all its promise of as yet untapped opportunity and exciting adventures ahead! It’s just like slipping into crisply laundered bedclothes for the first time, new and clean and fragrant. Or the young shoots of pure white snowdrops tentatively poking through the earth. Or that bite into a tart green apple bursting with unadulterated flavour. I’m ready for it! Crack open the champagne and bring it all on!
Talking of exciting adventures, let me tell you about my marvelous new find! Quite unexpectedly, in among the pesky bills and straight-for-the bin circulars, the postman brought me a parcel of goodies from the Chesil Smokery, just in time for the New Year. This kind of thing does not happen to me often, trust me, so, greedy piggy that I am, I ripped open the packaging in a thoroughly unladylike fashion, dived in and, to my delight, found a packet of smoked salmon, another of smoked venison, no less, and a kipper, all well wrapped, each in a woollen sleeve with an ice block to keep them cool and fresh. Well hello, this certainly looked like a treat and a half! A well-meaning friend, familiar with my gluttonous tendencies, had had them dispatched to me and boy, was I thrilled! As presents go, I like a scented candle or a box of fine chocolates as much as the next person, but let’s face it, nothing says ‘thank you ’ quite like an unusual and exquisite delicacy, tailor made to your very own taste buds. As the Chesil Smokery website so accurately says, a present box from them is certainly a whole lot ‘better than a slap in the face with a fish’. Never a truer word was spoken!
Venison, free range and pasture fed, is lean, high in protein, iron and various B vitamins, so it’s always a healthy choice of meat. After the excesses of Christmas and with my New Year’s resolution to eat lighter, leaner and cleaner, this was a perfect choice to start my Chesil taste adventure. I had it plain with a dollop of cranberry sauce and some toast on the side as a mid afternoon snack but it would have just as easily leant itself to a tempting combination with potato salad, perhaps, or a mixed salad, or with baked sweet potato or in a sandwich with some Cumberland sauce for lunch or supper. It was lightly smoked, completely ungreasy and beautifully subtly flavoured. Not too gamey but juicy and delicately savoury. I loved it and this, being a little bit different to the run of the mill offerings, is most definitely on my list for an easy but impressive dinner party starter in the future.
Many years ago I had a boyfriend who owned an island in the Outer Hebrides. In that rugged environment, where the chilly Atlantic winds whip around your ears all day long, I came to appreciate kippers for breakfast. There’s nothing more comforting or more sustaining to see you through the day. This smoked herring boasts many beneficial nutrients, not least it’s high level of Omega 3 fatty acids, which, as we all know, has anti-inflammatory and heart protective properties, so while it’s not exactly low cal, it is incredibly good for you. One fine Sunday morning I grilled it and tucked in, pairing it up with lightly grilled fresh tomatoes and sundried tomatoes too, and half a soft boiled egg. And what a joy it was. Once again very lightly smoked, it has none of that overly salty, fatty taste so often associated with this fish. It is not, perhaps, as rustically hearty as I am used to from the supermarket variety but much more delicate with finer flavour notes.
Finally, the last of my Chesil treats, the smoked salmon, which I enjoyed with capers, rocket salad, avocado slices and a little sour cream. This too passed muster with flying colours and, just like the venison and kipper, was restrained in its smokiness and gentle on the palate, making it more noble in character than it’s rougher supermarket cousins.
In these days of mass produced food you have to be a little careful what exactly you are eating and aside from the sheer yumminess of their products, I really like that Chesil Smokery source their fish from their own or carefully selected farms, which are situated in areas of strong currents and big tides, or directly from the North Sea. In fact, all their produce is ethically sourced; the grouse is wild (Yes! They do smoked grouse!) and the duck and chicken are reared on a low density GM-free diet and are also free of antibiotics or growth promoters. All is then peat and oak smoked using oak and apple wood from British trees, So it’s good news all round!
This was such an original and spectacularly welcome present from my lovely friend (a big thank you, you know who you are!) and it made the start of my year very special. I was so blown away by the idea, that next time I want to say Thank You or Get Well or Happy Birthday to someone I care about, or even when I plan my next dinner or drinks party, I’ll go straight online to the Chesil Smokery. They send out all sorts of different types of boxes, fishy ones, meaty ones, taster selections or individual items, and they offer a money back guarantee into the bargain, so they must be pretty confident of their quality. “Smoking is seriously addictive (even if it is just the odd trout)” as they say on their website. I agree, my New Year’s resolution is definitely to enjoy smoking more, in the odd trout kind of way, you understand!
It’s early days yet but so far 2016 has been good to me. May it continue in this vein! And to all my readers, may the year ahead be full of magic and the Fizz of Life!
Chesil Smokery, The Old Laundry, Sea Road North, Bridport, Dorset DT6 3BD.
Tel.: (0)1308 456306 www.chesilsmokery.com
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Kia aka Fizz of Life