Culinary Causerie

With Lesley Williams

El Fuego

Most of us equate celebrations with food – I certainly like to go out to eat on my birthday, but this year that wasn’t an option. My daughter and I have taken it in turns to cook every evening – in the early days of lock down it was something to look forward to – we had plenty of time to plan our meals and make the most of what we had in the store cupboard and freezer. It never occurred to us to get a takeaway as we usually only resort to these when we are too busy or tired to cook.

One local restaurant that I had heard good reports of was El Fuego in Victoria Street – it’s the funny square building that you pass as you go along Fabian Way – next to Kwik Fit. Its cuisine is Spanish and it is open for takeaway every day except Tuesday. The ordering system is simple, you go onto their website and select your dishes, choose your pick-up time and pay.

A confirmation email pops into your inbox and you go and collect.

After an afternoon in the sun on Rotherslade, we drove into town and went to collect our order. Social distance was maintained as I passed over my order reference and my food duly arrived. Once home I unpacked– as usual I had over-estimated on the amount. The starters of grilled chicken skewers, calamari and ribs were devoured with gusto – it’s amazing the appetite that you can work up with an afternoon on the beach. But the star of the show was the whole grilled sea bass, the smoky charred skin tasted as if it had just come of the barbeque, and the moist white flesh fell away from the bone. Close behind was the lamb shank with mashed potato which I had ordered with grilled Mediterranean vegetables. Everything was perfectly cooked and by the time I had decanted it all from the foil trays and plastic tubs, and presented it on the garden table, it felt far more celebratory than your average takeaway.

Maybe this is the way that we will be enjoying the dining out experience for the foreseeable future. I can’t be the only person who finds the majority of Indian and Chinese takeaways very disappointing – with a few excep-tions, so we’ll have to rely on our favourite restaurants providing a take away menu.

El Fuego, 3 Victoria Road, Swansea, SA1 3NE Tel: 01792 470004

Rose Indienne

Rose Indienne has long been my favourite Indian restaurant, ever since the late departed Sarla Langdon sang its praises many moons ago. It was she that said, it was one of the very few authentic Indian restaurants in Swansea.

During the lockdown we have had very few takeaways, but on the odd occasion when only a curry would do, Rose Indienne was the destination. My daughter, who has been in isolation with us along with our grandson, like me loves spinach, so anything saag is always on our wish list. Another family favourite is prawns, so lahsooni jhinga, deep fried king prawns in a rich thick sauce was the obvious choice along with lamb saag. With the added extras of naan, rice and subz masala – a mixed vegetable dish with tomatoes and fenugreek we had a feast – and enough for lunch the next day. No matter how often I try, I cannot replicate the unctuous and deeply savoury taste of the sauces in Indian cuisine, and I think I know why. It’s the onions. Indian recipes call for so many onions and I have a real problem with peeling them. My eyes don’t just water, they stream and sting, and my mascara runs down my face so I look like Alice Cooper. So, I avoid recipes with onions in them, or just omit them and then the texture is just wrong.  I’ve tried the ready prepared frozen onions you can buy in the super-market, but they don’t caramelise in the same way as fresh ones do.

In some ways I am glad that I have such a sensitivity to onions, as it gives me a great excuse to take a break from cooking and to head down to St Helen’s Road for my curry fix.

Rose Indienne, 73 -74 St Helen’s Road, Swansea SA1 4BG. Tel: 01792 467000


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