Well this post has been long overdue! This past week I’ve just been a bit busy sorting out my home and preparing for the end of my post-graduation unemployment, so I completely forgot about the fun I had last weekend in the quaint little place of Lymington. Now the autumnal weather is returning (did anyone see that mad hailstorm on Friday afternoon?!) it feels like the blue skies and sunshine of last weekend are more than a mere seven days in the past – but there you go. Blame climate change or the doom and gloom of living in the UK or whatever.
I feel like unless you have parents with good taste, you don’t grow up liking seafood. I know that I didn’t. In fact, I was never even keen on fish unless it was coated in some form of batter or breadcrumb and deep-fried. The great irony of my life is that as a child, I was repulsed by basically all food except most variants of potato, and now I’m obsessed. It was 2011 when my boyfriend introduced me to seafood (his parents do have good taste), and since that very first bite of juicy prawn, I have never looked back.
Fast forward to six years later, and I’m dragging him off to the New Forest for a seaside adventure.
I hadn’t been to Lymington since I went crabbing there as a child, but it still felt familiar in that quaint-seaside-town way, with its cobbled streets and spectacular views of boats spread across the marina. The weather was fantastic and our walk from the train station to the festival was so pleasant that we did it twice (okay, we forgot to get out cash so we made our way back into town to find a cashpoint).
Once there, we admired some of the stalls and their various wares – from beautiful illustrated homeware to flavoured fudge – before inevitably ending up at some of the street food caterers. Hey, I may be 22 now, but I’m still a sucker for anything deep-fried!
I was first drawn to a stall selling crispy squid, which had a queue that almost stretched to the other side of the park! Squid is probably my favourite seafood, if I had to pick just one, and this did not disappoint. Tossed in sweet chilli and served topped with pickled veg and sesame seeds, it was some of the most visually appealing calamari I’ve ever seen! But its beauty was not only skin deep – it was perfectly seasoned, lovely and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, with tonnes of flavour. It was honestly probably some of the best squid I’ve ever had.
Next we ventured to a cute little van selling ‘fusion dumplings’ – a concept I wasn’t altogether sold on but was willing to try. We had some lobster thermidor and Goan prawn inside deep fried dumplings, and although neither were terrible, they were definitely cashing in on the novelty flavours. The Goan prawn was our favourite and definitely suited the crispy dumpling encasement better than a cheesy piece of lobster!
We also tried some crab fritters topped with lime juice and a sauce that I think was ambiguously just called a drizzle. A drizzle of what? I’m not quite sure. They looked lovely and came with a base of salad that was very welcome after an afternoon of deep-fried treats, but I don’t have many strong feelings about crab in general, so I only had a taste before handing them over to my always-hungry partner in crime.
It was a really lovely day spent sitting by the sea, looking at fish and crabs moving around in the water, watching cooking demonstrations and looking around. While I wait for next year’s festival I’m going to have to try and replicate that gorgeous squid!