We are back from our trip to Scotland and Ireland and slowly catching up on mail, emails and returning calls. Nothing out of the ordinary. We are also catching up on friends' news, family happenings and local news. I can feel that I am a harder time than him adjusting to being back. Just getting back into the groove of things. The wider roads, driving on the other side, the blistering temperatures and evening thunderstorms.
Leaving this part of Europe made me feel as homesick as when I leave France after visiting. The landscape may be a tad bit different but I know the customs, the differences, the little quirks. I am familiar with green pastures, cattle, small farms and strange weather. It was as close to home as I knew it before I moved to the US.
I was not prepared to fall in love with Scotland. I was not prepared to feel so at peace in the brutal landscape of some parts of Northern Ireland. I was not ready to go home. Plans are already being formulated for a future visit. Bill and I spent the greater part of the plane ride home mapping out another route to take next year.
We work really well while traveling and this trip was no exception. All our planning worked out perfectly, leaving plenty of space and time for the unscheduled, the unknown, the spontaneous. Finding great little cafes and restaurants with local bon vivants giving us tips on the better roads to take, the good ferries to catch, etc...I believe everyone we met received an invitation to come visit us here. Might have been the Jameson or the Oban talking. We were just inebriated from the fresh air and lush beauty around us.
We ate well. Local fish, meat and vegetables. Eggs from local hens, milk from nearby dairies and lovely local cheeses and yogurt. Nothing that we don't already do here but you know how it goes...things always taste a bit different when in a different place than home. My usual breakfast is a cup of coffee and a cup of coffee. This trip, I had a hot breakfast of tea, toast, jam, eggs and sometimes bacon every morning. I did not feel any different from it but I did enjoy that moment spent with him, mapping out the day ahead and anticipating the surroundings to come.
We live in a sea town where access to fresh fish is akin to taking a breath of fresh air. A natural occurrence. Shark, catfish, pompano, oysters and shrimp are easy to find and fish around here. You can imagine that we were giddy as can be feasting on local salmon, cod, coley, bream, ... the list goes on. Preparations were new, different and always tasty. And if I could have peat smoked anything for the rest of my life, I'd be a happy gal.
We got back yesterday afternoon and I have yet to make a dent in editing pictures from the trip. That's my plan for the next couple of days. In the meantime, I leave you with a recipe for some tasty Shark Fish Tacos I made before we left. Super tasty and really easy to make. The garnish can be as varied and different as you wish.
The marinade for the shark is very much based on the Halibut Tacos recipe written by Becky Selengut in her book "Good Fish". I love that book. I can adapt all the recipes to our local fish and seafood. If you don't have it in your arsenal...run to get it.
Fresh Shark Tacos, adapted from Becky Selengut's Good Fish.
Note: please be aware that all shark is not created equal in terms of species, fishing and overall health properties. More information about it and other seafood and fish can be found here.
1 pound fresh shark or other firm fish
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 small onion, cut in half crosswise and sliced thin
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno, membranes and seeds removed, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tequila (or water)
4 tablespoons olive oil
fresh ground pepper
pinch of salt
fresh flour (regular or gluten free) or corn tortillas
avocado (cubes or slices)
arugula and extra cilantro
sour cream or creme fraiche
Cut the fish into 2-inch cubes and place them in a large dish.
In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the marinade (from the limes to the salt and pepper). Mix well, and pour over the fish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour, turning the fish occasionally.
Heat a large nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil and cook the shark in batches for about 4 minutes on each side. Do not add the marinade ingredients just yet. Adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of your fish. A thinner fish will not take as long.
You want to work in batches to prevent overcrowding your pan and drop the heat in it significantly which will result in boiled fish and not sauteed.
Remove all the fish pieces to a platter and loosely tend with foil to keep warm. In the meantime, pour all the marinade ingredients in the pan where you cooked the fish and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and the liquid has evaporated.
To serve: place the fish on large platter with the cooked marinade ingredients around, fresh cilantro, arugula, tomatoes, avocado, etc... so that each guest can fill their own tortilla. Serve sour cream, guacamole, and other sides in bowls long side.