The coolest sliver of pistachio green ice cream is infiltrated by delicate slashes of raspberry pink. Hot coral-red coloured lobsters are lurking in their shells sitting on ice thrones; one of them is winking at me.
We are having an idyllic Saturday lunch in the welcoming sunny arms of the Home Store Kitchen in Hastings Old Town. The shop itself is transcendental; more of a museum than a shop. An idle step off the street puts you back a century or so into this wonderful world carefully created by the charming Alastair Hendy. I was lucky enough to meet him on a food writing course I did about 5 years ago at Arvon. He writes about, photographs and cooks food with great panache. On the same course I was also was lucky to meet (my great friend) Miss Hammerton AKA Fritzy Ritz of the gramophone DJ-ing Shellac Sisters. She also pens the absolutely wonderful SILVER SCREEN SUPPERS BLOG. It’s opposite her I now sit as we taste Alastair’s special delights.
This is a world where food brings all the colour. In keeping with his immaculate retro aesthetic Hendy does not really ‘do’ colour. The subtlest apple greens and custard yellows occasionally appear in the ceramics stacked high in the front section of the shop but elsewhere the dark reclaimed wood and crisp whites of linen bring a chiaroscuro finish to the space. Coppery brass, feathery oranges and tarnished old silver comes together with woods of a million browns and greys throughout the three floor interior. So… when the meal is completed by this delicate slice of home-store made Pistachio Raspberry ice cream the colours sing off the plate to join the flavours. And what a taste it has; creamy, milky pale, tart, intense and vibrant all at the same time. This is excellent stuff. A good old-fashioned coconut ice completes the pastel symphony, its delicate, textured pink edge takes you back to childhood.
This meal is being described back to front, I wouldn’t normally start with the dessert but so was the impact it made on me. As for the dressed crab, he was immaculate. The top hat and tails of the crab world. So fresh and perhaps the cleanest tasting crab I have ever eaten. A pale citrine-coloured home-made mayonnaise also graced the plate alongside brilliant green cress. Fat juicy sprats, lightly dipped in flour and fried were a crunchy spectacular, eaten whole and with speed between us. Heirloom tomato salad (as my American friends would say) made a triumvirate of colour; red,yellow and burgundy speckled with capers, all washed down with a ‘soused’ cucumber salad on the side.
What a meal. Transparent rose pink wine lubricated everything and our moods soared, depositing us three hours later, back on the pavement outside, blinking into the sunlight.