Have been hard at work today, following a lovely, relaxing weekend spent with friends which included a superb lunch at Webbe's Fish Cafe in Rye, where we attended a fish cookery demonstration followed by a truly wonderful 4-course luncheon.
I'm normally a bit trepidatious when it comes to fish, following a traumatic childhood experience when I got a large fish bone lodged in my throat, which then swelled up till I could hardly breathe (my throat swelled up, not the fish bone!) Had to be rushed to the doctor who extracted the bone with a pair of forceps which to my young eyes seemed to be about a foot long. I can still recall crying and gagging at the same time as he manipulated the forceps down my throat to grip the offending bone and pull it out.
Unsurprisingly, I wouldn't touch fish (not even fish fingers) for years afterwards, and on the odd occasion when I had no option, I would have to forensically dissect each mouthful so thoroughly that I would invariably finish my meal at least an hour after everyone else.
I have become somewhat more adventurous, fish-wise, since meeting PP, who having always lived by the sea has a love of all things piscine. Therefore I have been gently introduced to all manner of fishy dishes which I would never have dreamt of trying out before.
However, the cookery demonstration on Saturday, was of three of the dishes which we were later to eat for lunch, and if I'd known what they were beforehand I would have been traumatised.
First course/appetiser was lobster, to which I am not averse in the slightest. So far so good.
Second course - soused mackerel, which to my dismay was raw, steeped for an hour or so in a sweet/sour marinade.
Third course - flounder.
However, it is a testament to the skill of the chef (Paul Webbe himself) that the expert filleting skills he demonstrated left not one hint of bone. And the various dishes he created, and which were subsequently served, were beautifully presented and set off with mouthwatering silky sauces and accompaniments.
I can now tell the difference between a flounder and a plaice. I know (in theory) exactly how to fillet either of them, then cook them to perfection. I also know how to humanely dispatch a live lobster, then dismember it, and how to prepare a fresh mackerel for sousing.
I'm also delighted to discover that the Webbe empire has recently expanded into Hastings, and he has a cracking new restaurant at Rock-a-Nore, only yards away from where the Hastings fishing fleet lands its catch every morning.
We're planning to have our Christmas 'office party' there in December! Who knows, I may become even more adventurous in my choice of fish ........