Rye Bay Scallop Week
A year or so ago, as the daffodils were fading and the first leaves appearing on the trees, I felt the only thing that could make me more content was a portion of sweet and juicy scallops.
It was with great joy then, that I discovered during a little internet based research, The Rye Bay Scallop Week.
Every year, the pretty town of Rye in East Sussex hosts a celebration of it's coastal crop. Platefuls of delicious, plump scallops are dished up in restaurants all around the citadel. Ceviché, seared, marinated, tartare, deep-fried... you name it, They're serving it.
Obviously this was an event which required further investigation, so we booked a windmill, looked at some menus, waited for the ten intervening months to pass by and set off for Sussex.
The principle of Scallop week is that all the local eateries, from fish and chip shops and bars to steak joints and bistros serve a couple of scallop dishes all week. Or several scallop dishes. Or a whole menu. Webbe's at the Fish Café was offering a 6 course Scallop Tasting Menu, which seemed the perfect way to expose ourselves to the scallop bonanza.
On the menu were a mixture of classic combinations and in places, some more modern methods. Or at least more modern to Britain. Pork belly and scallops in a ramen style broth being a perfect example.
Webbe's at the Fish Café, 17 Tower Street, Rye
The second night, we dined at The Landgate Bistro where, instead of basing a menu on scallops, an inventive 'tapas' style menu, of little scallopy mouthfuls was available in conjunction with the à la carte offering. We tried quite a lot. Obviously.
Smoked scallop with herb jelly, scallop tartare with gooseberry and sorrel, Moroccan spiced scallop... About eight were available in total.
The chef clearly places a lot importance on sourcing his ingredients from as close to home as possible, something which as a country boy has always been something I like to see (and on a non-scallop related note, this admirable ethos gave us the chance to get our chops round another local delicacy - deliciously tender salt marsh lamb).
Landgate Bistro, 5-6 Landgate, Rye
Our final meal was lunch, before departure. In Marino's, the fish and chip shop in town, where they served battered scallops (IT WAS SCALLOP WEEK) and chips, which I promise you were the best chips I have ever had. Crisp and crunchy on the exterior, fluffy and light inside with an over-all melt-in-the-mouth texture. Delicious!
Marino's Fish Restaurant, The Mint, Rye
I think we were lucky in our choices of eatery. All the residents we spoke to agreed that they were some of the best options in town, and both restaurants allowed us to sample scallops in several different dishes, which is, I suppose, the whole point of the entire event, as far as the consumer is concerned.
If you like eating scallops, you'll find Scallop Week at Rye an excellent event. Get in there early with your restaurant reservations, too. Webbe's and The Landgate get booked up quickly!
Oh, and did I mention that there's a Wild Boar week in the autumn?