I had a lovely little shopping spree at Dai’s Shed on the wharf this morning. I bought a tub of cockles in vinegar, a beautifully prepared dressed crab (I was presented with a huge tray and allowed to pick one out) and a gorgeous fresh mackerel, an absolute beauty. I always gut my own fish just before cooking because I think that it helps to retain both shape and flavour, but I seriously appreciated the offer to do it for me. I always cook mackerel on the day I buy it, but was contemplating a second one for the freezer. However, the chap in the shop (Dai Hughes himself perhaps?) told me that, like strawberries, mackerel turns to mush in the freezer. Very welcome advice. I still haven’t psyched myself up to coping with a live lobster, but it will have to be done. Aberdovey fisherman Dai Hughes catches the fish himself in his boat Santa Fe. The shop will be open this year until the end of October.
I went afterwards into the Aberdyfi Village Stores at 4 Seaview Terrace, and was so impressed by what I found. It has a Costcutter logo over the window so I wasn’t expecting much, but it is a little treasure trove of very good quality products on wooden shelves and fresh goods in refrigerated units, many Welsh and some with a distinctly continental twist. There is a nicely presented vegetable selection with good, fresh produce. The asparagus that I bought looks really super – fit healthy spears – and the fresh bread is gorgeous, the best I have found so far in either Aberdovey or Tywyn, My other purchases included fresh double cream, natural yogurt, a pack of couscous, a jar of Welsh Lady Hell’s Mouth Mustard that has paprika, garlic and chilli to liven it up (yet to try it but wow), a pack of dried juniper berries in the excellent Green Cuisine range and some eggs. A great mix of the basics as well as a generous supply of some more exotic items in tins and jars. Impressive too that they are open til 8pm on Monday to Thursday, 9pm on Friday and Saturday and 6pm on a Sunday.
The expedition was somewhat tainted by the £3.30 minimum charge for parking in the big car park on the seafront for over three hours. There’s not much choice at this time of year when it is so busy and all the short-term parking spaces are taken. Why does Gwynedd Council not provide a 1-hour charge for quick visits? Such a heavy fee just to dump the car for half an hour doesn’t really offer much incentive for local people to shop in Aberdovey when parking at the Spar and Co-Op in Tywyn are free. It is like imposing a penalty fee for using local shops. All very well to take exercise and enjoy the view by walking down into the village on a dry day, but it was chucking down when I left the house.
Here’s what I did with the mackerel from Dai’s Shed: Gutted it, cut slits in it on both sides, rubbed in a mixture of garlic, paprika and olive oil and baked it stuffed with lemon slices in foil painted with olive oil in the oven. I served it with lemon slices (should have been limes, but I didn’t have any), the juices from the foil poured over the top and a salad made of diced purple onion, mint leaves from my garden, diced salad tomatoes, capers, shredded little gem lettuce, giant chives from the garden, a home made mustard vinaigrette and a good shake each of salt, pepper and piri piri. Spot the deliberate mistake with the layout of the cutlery 🙂 Couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it until I started trying to eat!