Summer Seafood Supper Styling
So if you've followed me or read anything I've written to date - you'll know about the wonderful duo that is Simon & Loui Lawson. The Dream Team. I could list their magical qualities with pleasure and ease, but that would probs make for a bit of a random story and arguably irrelevant for this particular tale. Just know that they are divine, and they live on a little island in the middle of Surrey that you have to get to by boat. They share our love of dining in style, of dinners like these that are as much of a feast for the senses as the tummy. They are both actors, so performance is second nature to them, everything they touch has a welcome dash of "razzmatazz" (great word, use it in a sentence today) and when we all get together it's always an occasion or event.. it's just in our bones to be that way. So when Mother Batley (Loui's gorgeous mum who lives on the same island a few doors up) had a hankering for seafood - a seafood extravaganza is what we delivered!
The day (oh yes, this wasn't just an evening meal - it was a entire day of preparation and adventure) started with a trip to one of the most gorgeous fishmongers I have stepped foot in. That is saying something for a girl who spent eight years in Sydney and many a morning in the famous fish markets there. It was small, but perfectly formed, a Dickensian stye set-up with subway tiled frontage and gilded window displays of fishy abundance. It was like stepping back in time to an era where "artisan" wasn't a trend it was an assumption - skilled and devoted craftsmen and producers who took pride and joy in their trades, of which they were world-class experts. Anyway, you get the idea - it was bloody brilliant. We picked fresh king prawns as big as your hand, whole lobster, prepared crab meat in its shell and a few dozen oysters to start the meal off in style - naturally.
When we got back to the island we set to work making things from scratch, tasting, laughing, drinking and working up an appetite for the feast that was to follow. The boys took the role of principal "mother shuckers" getting to work on those treasured oysters and I was let lose on the task of beautifying the table. I never go for a fussy polished look and this was no exception. A formal environment creates a stuffy dining experience, so I kept it rustic and relaxed - just how we like it. Place mats were pieces of brown paper with handwritten named place settings, napkins were tied with string and wherever I could fit them fresh, edible ingredients were weaved into the gaps. They bring life and colour to the table and nod to the flavours on the plate - you can't beat them. Clusters of herbs here, a well placed lemon there and a scattering of sea shells for good measure. We were truly spoilt on this particular evening, in terms of produce, setting and company. Although my fingers still smell like crustacean, it was so very worth it. Bon Appetit.