We may not be travelling to our favourite destinations this summer due to the restrictions, Maria Broadbent, of CASA in Bury St Edmunds, is taking us on holiday with the flavours of the Mediterranean
At CASA we have been on an incredibly different trajectory to the one of previous late springs/early summers. That being said, it has in many ways been an interesting and at times exciting journey – one we still don’t know when or where our final destination will be.
People are starting to ask us when we will open, how we will manage to cope with Government guidelines and what the format will be. Much of this is out of our hands, as it has been since around March 15. However, there are plans we can make and steps to be taken in order to be ready and raring to go when we are given the green light.
My thoughts are, given that holidays abroad are going to be limited, that people will be looking at staycations. How fortunate are we to live in and around Bury St Edmunds and the beautiful county of Suffolk? I figure this gives us a head start, plus we have a better than average holiday climate for the UK. With this in mind, we have come up with the idea of CLUB CASA! The plan being to give you a taste of a Mediterranean holiday right here in good old BSE.
We have doubled the size of our outside seating area and are theming it with a beach bar feel: Amber is busy working on holiday cocktail ideas and Louise is looking at some party ideas for later in the evenings. Pale blue CLUB CASA holiday rep t-shirts are on order and playlists are being compiled.
We will all be ready to treat ourselves after months of lockdown and we can’t wait to spoil you rotten once you are allowed out. We have some lovely threats lined up for you – all those Spanish and Greek summer favourites will be making an appearance on our Summer Sun menu, plus a few Italian and French highlights. Should the weather be less kind we still have fairylit gazebos and a Mediterranean ambience indoors. Tables are being spaced in line with current restrictions and we have a system in place to deal with bookings, orders and service.
So on to the stars of the show. . . the food and drink.
Greek food is so evocative of lazy summer days. As with most Mediterranean cooking it is either long and slow or a rapidly cooked dish – there is very little inbetween. Lamb Kleftiko is a long slow-roasted lamb shoulder that is marinated in rosemary, oregano and garlic. (Served with a classic Greek salad and some lemon and oregano potatoes plus a side of tzatziki is just delicious!)
If you fancy a taste of Greece at your barbecue this is a great quick and easy menu to do:
Taramasalata and Hummus with Pitta
(brush the pitta with olive oil and toast on the barbecue)
Stuffed vine leaves and tzatziki
A bowl of Kalamata olives
(I prefer these separately to on a Greek Salad)
Halloumi from www.oliveolive.co.uk
(cheese that doesn’t melt on the barbecue)
Chicken Souvlaki (Greek chicken kebabs)
Mediterranean Vegetable Skewers
(this should be cut into chunky pieces and dressed with a white wine vinegar, olive oil and pinch of salt dressing)
Marinade (for 1 shoulder of lamb)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons dried rosemary
3 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoons salt
Score the meat with a sharp knife on both sides. Next, mix the marinade ingredients and rub into the shoulder taking great care to ensure that you rub it deep into the score marks.
Cut two large lengths of baking parchment and wrap the lamb shoulder in it – tie with string. Place wrapped lamb shoulder into a roasting tin and cook in the oven for 5 hours at 140 degrees.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and shred the lamb from the shoulder whilst it is still warm.
Calamari and Aioli, Chorizo in Red Wine and some Padron Peppers – our playlists include classic Spanish guitar music and you are instantly Viva L’Espana – who needs to sit on a plane?
For a simple Spanish evening at home try a cold platter of Spanish meats, olives and Manchego cheese. Followed by meatballs and some patatas a la pobre (Bravas are a challenge without a fryer and these are healthier, too). Pair this with a bottle of Spanish wine, sherry and/or beers and olé!
The smell of garlic cooking wafting into the warm air outside is one of the joys of doing what I do. It makes the long hours and heat worthwhile. To see customers enjoying the food is the bit I am truly missing and am longing to see and hear the buzz of customers once more.
PATATAS A LO POBRE
This roughly be translates as “Poor man’s potatoes” and is a simple dish of slowly fried potatoes, green peppers and onions. In Andalucia this is a typical dish which is served in a “venta”. A “venta” is a small simple restaurant in the country where city dwellers go out with their family or friends to eat in the country usually on a Sunday and normally in the open air. A fancier version exists in which you add chorizo and even an egg. Great as a hangover cure for brunch!
4 large potatoes, thinly sliced (leave in water for about 20 minutes to get rid of the starch and then drain)
1 green pepper (or red if you prefer cut into thick strips
1 onion, roughly chopped
About 250ml olive oil (most recipes say more - but I’m trying to keep it sensible!)
Heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the potatoes and season with salt. Fry on a high heat for 5 minutes, turning the potatoes over, and then turn the heat right down. Put a lid on the pan and gently fry for 10 minutes. Add the green pepper and onion and give everything a good stir. Cover the pan and leave to fry gently for another 10 minutes. Check from time to time to make sure that they are not sticking too much to the bottom of the pan.
At the end of this time look to see whether the potatoes are cooked and taste for salt, adding more if necessary. The idea is for the potatoes to be soft but with some of them a bit crispier to add to the flavour. If the potatoes are not cooked, put the lid back on and leave for another 5 minutes or so. Remove the potatoes from the pan with a slatted spoon and serve.
Watch and cook Spanish Meatballs along with Maria at: https://youtu.be/ca0X2Sga3qE
Maria Broadbent is owner of Mediterranean restaurant CASA in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds
Tel 01284 701313