‘Paris, hours in the café, a certain spirit of rebellion, one side a bit too stubborn, the sea, the true, in Bretagne, the walking in Provence, the taste, the passion for literature, the libraries, the beautiful editions, remaking the world in a set of hours around a table and a bottle of wine. Talking without really saying nothing, just for the pleasure of talking. The museums, the theatres, the elegance, the delicacy, the heritage of the illustration, a humanistic philosophy. The balance we got between a nordic rigor and a latin savoir-vivre, the insolence and the freedom’ – Clémence Poésy, actress and fashion model. A rich sentiment for a rainy day in England as autumn gives way to winter. How I miss the sun, the blue skies, the sound of the ocean and the true-to-the-heart latin pursuit of personal authenticity. Researching, making and tasting dishes from the countries that surround the Med takes me back to sunny days and treasured memories of browsing farmer’s markets and seeking shade in grand bazaars; picking lemons, tasting new wines and taking time to slowly explore unknown streets and alleyways; sitting in churches and mosques quietly breathing in the scent of incense and spices. Listening to languages we will never ever grasp; smiling at our loved ones, their shrouds of daily responsibility temporarily replaced with a sense of infinite possibility. Being in the moment. And being aware that you are. Do we feel like this because we’re on holiday or do we feel it merely when a place appears exotic simply because it is unknown? Or is it down to the glorious feeling of the freedom afforded by living a simpler, slower life in the sun? I can muse all I like but it makes no difference; for now, we live in England – and up north, for God’s sake, how did that happen? Enough of all this melancholy, here’s a little taste of the sun for you. It’s a classic poischichade, a super easy dip from Provence created by simply whizzing up a few store cupboard ingredients. It’s great smothered over freshly-baked bread and accompanied with a glass of a jaunty red wine.
x2 400g tins of chickpeas, drained
2 cloves of garlic
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
280g jar of sun-dried tomatoes, drained (you can also use two large roasted red peppers, see adaptation below)
10-12 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp of dried oregano, plus extra for garnishing
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
How I make it
Place the chickpeas, garlic, spring onions, sun-dried tomatoes, 10 tbsp of olive oil and the lemon juice in a food processor and blend to a nice chunky texture.
Stir in the oregano and season to taste (feel free to add more olive oil and lemon juice if you wish). That’s it, you’re done! Turn out into a pretty bowl and garnish with crushed red chillies or dried oregano.
Open a nice bottle of wine and book a holiday.
Last week, my menu at The School House Gallery was inspired by Provence and I created an updated version this recipe by replacing the sun-dried tomatoes with freshly roasted red peppers. It was much lighter and brighter; I preferred it (this version is pictured above). I don’t possess a gas flame so I roasted two large peppers (deseeded, membranes removed and cut into eighths lengthways) on a baking tray in the oven, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with dried wild oregano, at 180C for 25 minutes, just until the edges of the peppers began to turn black. Continue with recipe as set out above, reducing the amount of olive oil by half, or according to your personal taste.