The charms of Chichester

TRAVELLING chef Philippa Davis can find herself anywhere from Provence to the isle of Skye, from deer-stalking in the Highlands to the watery landscape of Chichester Harbour where she was catering for a shooting party …

“There is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats…….” so Ratty exclaimed to Mole in Wind in the Willows. I am not sure I entirely agree. It is only in recent years that I have been able to overcome my easily triggered sea sickness. I remember once feeling quite queasy at the London Boat show. However, witnessing the bustling river banks near Chichester harbour while on my recent job I felt I could have almost agreed.

As there was an evening that didn’t need catering for I was asked to cook meals and puddings to stock the freezer. I made a few stews, curries, slow cooked lamb shanks and, much to the relief of the hostess, dealt with a load of the pheasants and partridges by making a big game pie. Without the pressure of evening dinner it also allowed a little more time for food shopping and expeditions to the local independent stores scattered in and among the surrounding villages.

Local shopping even went as far as the wine by using the nearby Nyetimber vineyard. Nyetimber produces an extremely fine sparkling wine that makes even Champagne doubt its superiority. The hosts and I agreed that besides making an excellent aperitif the wine would pair perfectly with the starter for the dinner party.

The menu read as follows :

Canapés – Beetroot and artichoke dip with celery, potted local smoked trout and crisp bread, quails eggs with home made celery salt, grilled oysters with gruyere and lemon

British charcuterie.

Starter – Poached langoustines with fennel, apple and pea shoot salad, aioli and lemon

Main – Wiltshire roe deer fillet with goose fat roast potatoes, parsnip chips, wild mushrooms and braised cavolo nero.

Dessert – Pressed chocolate cake with blackberry semifreddo

Cheese – Brie de Meaux, Keens cheddar, Goodwood goats cheese, Colston Basset stilton with strawberry grapes, dried figs and oat cakes

Philippa’s postcard from Chichester includes the recipe for the starter – visit her website for the ingredients and instructions for the recipe for the light and delicious poached langoustines with apple, fennel and pea shoot salad, aioli and lemon