The wonderful flavour of cockles belie their low price. They are worth buying merely for the quality of stock they produce, however they can also be used instead of clams in any pasta dish. The Welsh coast provides tons of these molluscs but most go straight to the pickling plants.
To make the fried bread, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the bread on each side until golden. Place half the chopped parsley on a plate and dip the slices of fried bread in it to coat. Set aside in a warm place until ready to serve.
Place the cleaned cockles and mussels in a large pan and pour in the wine. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil for about 2 minutes. When the shells open, they are cooked.
Strain off the liquor and reserve. Pick half the cockles and mussels from their shells and leave the rest.
Fry the shallots and garlic in olive oil until golden. Add the diced tomato, passata and then the chilli. Cook for a few minutes, then add the cooking liquor.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 2 minutes before adding the shellfish to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the remaining chopped parsley. Serve with the bread.
The advantage of starting a restaurant where there was none before lies in the clean slate you start with. The house we chose had been much loved and looked after, not bashed about by disgruntled persons in white chefs’ outfits. There were no unloved catering-standard tables and chairs that we would prefer not to have but could not justify replacing, no crew of any description left over from a previous arrangement to tells us that all our plans had been tried before and found not to work. Best of all, there were no existing customers to turn up and ask for the previous repertoire of dishes, or to tell all their friends how we had spoilt their favourite restaurant.
© 2000 Shaun Hill. All rights reserved.