Thursday 11 February 2010


After the shoe finished on Friday, it was off home to prepare for a romantic weekend a deux: "………" (for she is shy) was coming to stay. Well, that qualifies as a deux in my book; a trois may be a bit of a stretch. Anymore and you are probably a Premiership footballer. I have spent too long having romantic weekends a un. Romance in this case meant The Guns of Navarone on DVD and eating too many sandwiches; I was looking forward to her visit immensely.

So what to cook?

Everyone has a signature dish and mine, apart from comfort/student food like chilli, is dressed crab. I learned how to do prepare this many years ago when I lived in a small fishing village in the North-East, not far from Whitby, in Staithes. I bought the house, "Venus Cottage" (Goddess of Love, classics fans), from a newly-divorced couple. Well, there was an irony in that. One of the pubs in the village was called "The Cod and Lobster ", which was perched on the sea-wall and had metal shutters to stop the windows caving in from the heavy seas. When there was a storm lashing, the chandelier would shudder as the waves hit the four foot thick walls. The sea would crash over the roof, down into the street on the other side and soaking any passers by. It would also occasionally come down the chimney and put the fire out.

The pub was run with a mailed fist by a woman called Edna, who referred to everyone as 'unny. She would don a long gown and sit by the fire each evening with a brandy balloon full of some murky substance (which looked to me like oil). With a quarter of a century of alcoholic experience under my belt, my liver and kidneys, I would hazard a guess that it was Tia Maria, the coffee based liqueur. This is one of those drinks, like Advocaat and Drambuie, that are only usually given as presents and, along with copies of SpyCatcher and A Brief History of Time, are placed in view to give the owner a veneer of sophistication in the eyes of their peers.

With a name like the "Cod and Lobster", as you would expect crab, was often on the menu.

One drunken night I fell into conversation with some of the fishermen who long-lined for cod for one part of the year, and fished for lobster with their specially made "pots" the rest of the time. I must have been babbling some nonsense, because at about 5am the following morning, as I lay in bed snoring, there was a hammering on my front door. Before I knew it, I was aboard a fishing "coble", as the small boats were called, out about half a mile off-shore in an oily swell as the guys - sandwich in one hand - baited up the pots with rotting fish. "Crab and lobster prefer rotten smelly stuff…..sandwich?"

We were out that morning for about an hour. The seagulls were wheeling overhead. The early morning sun was shining in a clear sky. I could see down to Whitby in one direction and up to Hartlepool in the other. A porpoise cruised past. I felt like death cooled down. The combination of a late night, oily swell and the smell of rotting fish conspired against my internal economy.

We made it back to dry land with seconds to spare. Once I had both feet on dry land I felt so much better. The Fisherman were effusive in their praise. "We thought you would be honking your guts up in no time. Most people do. Well done, although you did go very green".

I felt very proud as I drove across the moors early that morning to work. I startled a deer in the middle of the road, which stared at me for a moment then casually sauntered back into the undergrowth. I felt at one with nature as I rounded the next corner and ran over a squirrel!

Dressing crab is actually very simple. Just remove the "Dead Men's fingers" which are the gills and there you are!

However, you have to get the shell open first. This is where I experienced "Crab…The Revenge" as, using what feeble attempts at strength I possess, I hauled at the shell until it suddenly gave way, lacerating my index finger in the process. It is difficult to be romantic with blood gushing from a wound. Unless, ofcourse, it is a protracted death scene in a Western: "The gold is is is hidden in the…….rattle expire!"

This in turn gave us the idea for…Valentines Day, The Alex Lester Way, which is on the iPlayer for a week.


GrrrNasher said...

Something smells a little fishy. mmmm.
Looking forward to hearing how you 'blew it' on V-day! Wink.
Love the shoe.

GrrrNasher said...

Are you sure it was the crab getting it's own back and not the ghost of the squirrel? Mmmmm,

Alex, please keep to the sea, you can't do too much damage there (no squirrels, deer or sheep to run-over! (see previous blogg!)

Love the high heels (but they don't go with your leather trousers)

Twix said...


I hope it's a great one for you and "....."!


PS: Nice photo by the sea

Annie said...

Is that true that everyone has a "signature dish"? If so, that's something else I'll have to agonize about not having!

I like the sound of Venus Cottage -very romantic. Many years ago used to live near a house called "The Theatre of Pain" and I still ponder.

The euphoria of new love is very special and it shoes. Treasure.

Twilight said...

Staithes, eh? Very pictureskew, as my Dad used to say. Gorgeous place.

Glad to read that you are now a pair - as all good shoes ought always to be. ;-)

moggy said...

WEY HEY ,,,,,,, I LIKE IT THIS BLOG IS FOOD PORN so mmmmmmm lovely i love crab ,and what a fab film to cuddle to cos when the big bang go,s off the ladys jump into your arms say no more he he he
love the shoe
moggy xx

ACCox said...

Love that pic of you and the creamy latte...!
Are you in a stolen hotel dressing gown?

Electro-Kevin said...

Ouch !

It was a good try. I hope you were rewarded for your efforts.

My signature dish ? Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle and tinned tuna. I serve it to the kids when *the wife* is away. They love it.