On 31 December, known in Dunbar as Auld Year’s Day and Auld Year’s Night (or Nicht) and known elsewhere as New Year’s Eve or Hogmanay around Scotland, we went for a taster meal, with our son Jonathan and daughter in law Rebecca (who took the photos) to the local, award winning Creel Restaurant, which has featured here before, but certainly deserves another mention. The first course was a cappuccino of local fish and shellfish (Photo 1) , and for me, this is the chef’s signature dish – he may or may not agree. It has an intense flavour of fish soup and you get hints of crab, prawn and haddock (smoked and unsmoked). A small cup is enough and I’ve yet to taste better. This was followed (no photo) by delicious scallops, served in a scallop shell, with a delicate Thai flavouring and vermicelli (very thin noodles). The chef included the scallop roe (the orange bit) although some recipes suggest not to do this. A very attractive and flavoursome dish. Next up (Photo 2) was monkfish done in Japanese breadcrumbs. Now, when you cook monkfish, you have to be very careful not to over cook it, as it can go rubbery. This was perfectly cooked, allowed the monkfish’s mildish flavour to come through. If there was a main dish, it was the cannon of lamb with mashed baby potatoes and pea puree (Photo 3). This is the lamb equivalent of fillet steak and it was superbly cooked and presented, with tender meat, a rich but not over powering sauce and tasty pea puree. Overall, a great combination. The final dish (i.e. before coffee/tea and mince pies) was a choice between pecan brownie (Photo 4) and cheese and biscuits. We ordered 2 of each and made the most of it. I’m not a great brownie fan, but this was excellent. A real treat of a meal as a final bit of luxury before going home to bring in the New Year.
The Creel is just next to Dunbar harbour, which has also featured a few times here. Yesterday, I took my camera with me along to the harbour, on a bright, sunny and not too cold day. At the harbourside, I saw 2 seals casually swimming about in the water, but they were not close enough to take a decent photo, as I did not have my extra zoom lens with me. I was fortunate, however, that when I look up from the seals, I saw the local boat The Tangaroa (Photo 5)sail through the harbour entrance and park. The catch was unloaded as catches from small boats have been unloaded in this harbour for hundreds of years – by hand. The man in the boat tied a rope through the holes in the sides of the fish box, and the younger man on the harbourside pulled up the boxes. In the first box were (Photo 6), he told me, velvet crabs which are smaller than the brown crabs , which are next to the unhappy looking fish – they look equally unhappy when alive (Photo 7). The main catch was lobster (Photo 8) and you can see that the lobsters have had their claws taped up, to prevent damage. Fishermen can gain a good price for lobsters, but nothing like the profit which restaurant owners can make when putting lobster dishes on the menu. I like both the real and the surreal appearances of the fish and shellfish in these photos e.g. in the velvet crab photo, the crab legs could be part of an Australian Aboriginal painting.