Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Fish suppers I have known

Fish and Chips at 149 has won first place in the national Fish and Chip Awards for 2011.  Matthew Silk and Tracey Poskitt have years of experience in fish frying and, finding themselves competing for the same premises, decided to join forces in 1988 to open this award winning chippie.  Surely, I thought, I don't have to go to Bridlington, East Yorkshire for perfect fish and chips. 

Bridlington is not the easiest place to get to from London but I have to say I'm tempted.  Having grown up in the North East when a decent fish and chip supper was taken for granted, I've struggled to find it in the South and it's not for want of trying.  The best I've eaten in recent years came from Rick Stein's chippie in Padstow, Cornwall.  We drove from Fowey on Cornwall's South coast to Padstow in the North to get them.  It was pouring with rain so we committed the cardinal sin of eating them in the car.  Sitting in cosy comfort with steamed up windows knowing we would regret it tomorrow when we got into the car to that unmistakable odour.  But it was worth it.  The freshest cod steamed in the crispiest, light batter and perfect crisp and fluffy chips, which you only get from using Maris Piper potatoes. 

There is something about the seaside and fish and chips.  I can go for months in town without thinking about a fish supper but as soon as I hit the coast I must have one.  I suppose we think we're by the sea, we must be able to get good fish.  Sadly, it's not always so in England but somehow our expectations remain high.  Not having the time or opportunity to go to either Bridlington or Padstow last week but, craving a whiff of ozone, we took the train to an English coastal town in the South East.

The town is trying hard to resurrect itself but sadly this shiny new chippie, which I won't name as I don't do hatchet jobs, isn't going to draw me back anytime soon.  Pallid, floppy chips, thick undercooked batter, which masked what might have been good haddock, left us regretting our decision for some time afterwards.  Overall, it lacked attention to detail.  So, it's so long thanks for all the ozone - but I'll eat elsewhere.  Having read how Fish and Chips at 149 are so particular about the temperature of the batter they use (it's kept at 6C) it's disappointing to see how many chippies place the batter container on the fish fryer 'warming nicely'.  Oh, and while we're at it, can we have more than a nod to sustainability.

So, I think I'll just make that trip up to Brid next time I get the craving, unless you can offer a recommendation nearer to home.  This year the award for 2nd place went to Peck-ish Fish & Chips in Camelford, Cornwall in South West England and 3rd to Seniors at Marsh Hill in Thornton, Lancashire in the North West of England.