It was a quiet, low light morning in late January. The village of Port Appin was snoozing, the sea loch was still apart from a group of Red-breasted Mergansers bobbing about on the water. Our reason for being at The Pierhouse Hotel? To take photos of Laura, Janette, Sergejs and Caroline after the hotel’s recent success at the Scottish Hotel Awards regional awards presentation.
Job done, we became aware of a delicious aroma coming from the kitchen. Something very tasty was being prepared…..but what was it at 11am in the morning? When Head Chef Laura said “We’re trying out a new dish for the Spring Menu – Sea Bream, baked in a parcel. It’ll be ready in 10 minutes if you'd like to stay and have a taste?” Well, you know what our answer had to be!
Ten minutes can seem like a long time when you are waiting for something to come out of the oven……..but it was worth the wait! A handful of knives, forks and napkins appeared on the table as Laura presented The Pierhouse white rectangular dish with a foil and paper parcel in the centre. It felt fleetingly like a ‘Master Chef judging moment' as the dish was revealed to us – the parcel carefully opened as delicious smelling steam wafted past our noses, forks at the ready.
We asked Laura and fellow chef Przemek to talk us through the dish: the basis for the new dish is whole sea bream from the hotel’s local fish supplier up the road at Onich. Olive oil, sherry, garlic, parsley and spinach are mixed together and pureed before being placed inside the fish and drizzled on top. The prepared sea bream is then put into a parcel, sitting on top of de-seeded and peeled tomatoes which have been cooked on the stove with green and yellow peppers. The parcel is then baked in the oven which means the fish retains its moisture and all the lovely fresh flavours work their magic. While all of this is going on, potatoes are sliced into disks, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper and roasted to perfection.
The result – the dish was simply delicious. We loved all the fresh flavours coming through from the vegetables, the herbs and the sherry. As planned, the sea bream was wonderfully moist and the roasted potato slices were lovely and crisp outside - a great contrast to the soft, moist fish and tomato/pepper mix.
Were the Chefs happy with the new dish? Yes, indeed, with a few tweaks here and there to perfect it!
Will the dish make it onto the new Spring Menu? We all certainly hope so…….but you’ll have to wait and see when the new menus come out next month.
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