Amalfi’s gelato-tinted buildings cascading down the seaside cliff into the sea is the view from my “office” (SKYLARK’s galley). On the counter is a mound of aromatic local lemons, waiting to be transformed into homemade limoncello and a classic tarte au citron. The aromas of saffron, white wine and bay leaf from the fish stock simmering on the stove fill the air as I finish filleting and cleaning a fish. Dinner tonight starts with a crudo of coquilles St-Jacques drizzled with fennel-infused oil and dotted with a fine dice of housepickled citrons, continues with roulades of monkfish rolled in pancetta and accompanied by a confit of cherry tomatoes with a saffron foam, and finishes with a classic tarte au citron with lavender ice cream for dessert; to follow, we will offer chilled limoncello.
My onboard menus change with each charter, depending on a combination of guest preferences and what I find at the local markets wherever we dock. The fresh markets are my biggest inspiration — I buy creamy kaymak and local honey from Kotor, richly nutty pumpkin-seed oil from Slovenia, superb pistachios and almonds from Sicily or the amazing fresh burrata and flavourful tomatoes in Naples, beautiful produce from the marché Forville (where I have particular favourite growers) in Cannes, the best veal and saucisson sec from my butcher in Calvi, or the gorgeous loukhoum and herbs and spices in Turkey… the list goes on. Wherever we are, we love to spoil our charter guests with the treasures we find at the local markets.
For the salsa, finely dice the olives, tomatoes, onion, fennel and lemon; combine with remaining ingredients. Check for seasoning, and set aside for a minimum of an hour in the refrigerator to let the flavours combine.
For the foam, reduce the fish stock to half its volume with the tonkabeans, saffron and pastis. Pass through a strainer and whisk in the crème fraîche; test for seasoning. Using an immersion blender, add the lecithin and process strongly to obtain a nice foam. Allow to settle for a minute, then spoon around the fish.
Rub the flesh side of the fish with Dijon mustard, pat dry the skin and dust lightly with flour. On the stovetop, heat a large, oven-proof pan (pôele) with enough oil to coat to just smoking. Add the fish, skinside down; cook for 1 to 1 ½ minutes or until a thin white opaque line shows above the skin. Carefully turn over the fish, sprinkle the skin with sea salt, and put the entire pan in the heated oven for 5 to 6 minutes. Serve the fish on warmed plates, with the salsa, sauce and vegetables of your choice.