View from the Cobb
PUBLISHED: 11:14 09 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 February 2013
Having left West Bay to carve out a glittering career as a chef and food writer, Mark Hix has returned to Dorset where he's enjoying being a local once more
We've been having a bit of a run of talent down at the Hix Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis over the past six months. Each month we've been welcoming well-known names from the world of food, art and literature to host a series of dinners and masterclasses to get the locals' taste buds going, and in the case of our recent evening with Brit artist Tracey Emin, to get an insight into what Tracey and myself get up to on a good night out!
Tracey is a great supporter, like myself, of the RNLI and we turned the evening into a bit of a fun charitable event. When the fruits of the sea and the fruits of the vine started flowing, it turned into a jolly old affair with us spontaneously auctioning off anything going, from the handwritten menu to a tour round Tracey's studio followed by lunch at the Oyster and Chop House with the pair of us - a bit of a bargain for the lucky bidder, I'll tell you! Towards the end of the evening Tracey decided to do portraits of the guests for £20 each. Hopefully the lucky diners haven't sold them on eBay yet!
I've been working on some new salad dressings using great British ingredients like honey, Tewkesbury mustard, rapeseed oil and cider vinegar. I've even done one with blackberry vinegar, perfect with gamey autumnal salads. Also arriving on the menu this month is our new wine. A couple of months back, my mate and fellow chef Mitch Tonks from Brixham and I visited Quinta de la Rosa in Portugal, producers of excellent wines and ports. Over a few after-dinner drinks we thought it would be a good idea to come up with a Hix Tonks wine to go with fish, and called it Tonnix! Better still, we got Emin to draw the label. Who knows what kind of party we are going to end up having when we crack that first bottle!
I'm beginning to feel like a real local again. I'm getting back into sea fishing, which I enjoyed so much as youngster when growing up in West Bay. I've even bought a dinghy for the beach in Charmouth for those lovely winter days when the other boat is out of the harbour. The bass fishing down there is great. I didn't really seriously fish for bass as a kid, but now I've learned a thing or two from the locals about some top fishing spots to try. I've also put some lobster pots out off Charmouth beach. There is a great sense of satisfaction in dropping the odd fish or crab off to the restaurant along with some foraged wild leaves and mushrooms - that's what my semi-country life is all about.
To bed us into the game season we have Ben Weatherall from Yorkshire Game doing a Game Masterclass on 16 September. I regularly visit Ben in Dumfriesshire for a spot of salmon and sea trout fishing. To get you in the seasonal mood, here's a wonderful game recipe, its a take on the traditional partridge or grouse with bread sauce. It's very easy to make and delicious. Do give it a try.