I am once again in Orthez, with several weeks of down time to look forward to…well, as always, there are things to do in the category of “household improvements”, but that is a pretty well populated category that will extend well into the future, so it doesn’t seem terribly pressing.
And as always, one of the things I anticipate most on returning to Orthez is the opportunity to cook the wonderfully fresh products found in its market. Today’s market inspiration is merlin, a flaky white fish known as whiting in English, although, being an Atlantic fish, it is not well known in Seattle. Today the local fish monger had an abundant batch of these modest fishes at a good price so decided to feature one at lunch.
First course was a simple salad of oak leaf lettuce dressed with apple cider vinegar and walnut oil.
Next came the merlin, which was sprinkled with shallots, thyme, salt, pepper, a little white wine and small knobs of butter before roasting in a hot oven about 6 minutes. This shared a plate with cabbage blossoms, simply steamed and tossed with butter, lemon juice and finely chopped garlic.
To finish this substantial lunch, a well aged goat cheese disk and a washed rind cow’s milk cheese reminiscent of reblochon, both made by local artisans. These were served with fig jam and the last of last year’s apples, grown locally, knobby, their yellow skin spotted and wrinkled but still sound and sweet.