Monday, 26 December 2011

From sand to snow and everything in between

We've certainly had a month of contrast - after our sun-drenched Moroccan holiday, we came back to find Verbier still behaving like it was mid-Autumn: sunny days, mild nights and absolutely no snow in sight.  Worrying stuff for a ski resort, especially after last season's no-snow...

Sunset over Lac Leman as we took the train home from Geneva

But we needn't have worried - ours prayers and snow dances were soon answered in a truly fantastic way with the most epic snow dump imaginable.  The snow started falling in early December... and it's just kept on going, giving us about 2 metres of the white stuff in time for Christmas.  In just a matter of a days, more snow fell over Verbier than in the whole of last season.  

Le Cradzet (the little chalet in our garden) in the first of the snow, 5th December

The view from our apartment after the first couple of days of snow...

Serious snowfall by 16th December - by this stage, some of the chalets on Savoleyres were being evacuated due to the avalanche risk

Although the season officially starts on 1st December, we seasonaires had the place more or less to ourselves for the first couple of weeks, meaning that we were free to play on the mountain in the more-than-decent early snow before the Christmas crowds arrived...

Lac de Vaux before it froze over, 8th December

Me and the Big Swede enjoying our first ski of the season

Christmas has now been and gone - Father Christmas outdid himself this year with some stunning "bluebird" days (when a night of snowfall is followed by a blue-skied, sunny day) - and things are now hotting up in the resort as we approach the New Year, one of the busiest weeks of the entire season.  Accommodation prices go sky-high and the parade of high fashion and luxury cars gets very serious - you will never see as much fur, diamonds, shiny chrome and immaculate make-up at any other time of the year in the Alps.  Tickets are on sale for New Year's Eve parties in the clubs and bars around town for up to 500CHF per person - for that amount, it has got to be one hell of a party and I'm pretty sure that it'll only be the tourists paying (the strong Swiss franc means that 500CHF is about £340, €410 or the same amount in US$).  Perhaps they don't realise quite what they could be doing instead... the smart money is on the locals' plan: armed with a few bottles of booze, some warm clothes and a group of friends, you can head up to a good vantage point to watch the fireworks over Verbier as 2012 arrives in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.


Cabin Montfort

Heading down to Verbier at the end of a day's skiing

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Friday, 9 December 2011

Hustle, bustle, surf & turf

What can I say about Morocco that hasn't been said already?  'Discovered' in the 1960s by the beautiful and the damned, it now forms part of most modern travellers' repertoires, keen to soak up some north African sun and immerse themselves in an exotic culture.

Fishing boat in Essaouira

Having spent the summer in Cornwall and with five months in the Swiss Alps ahead of us, we wanted a holiday with plenty of sunshine, bright blue skies, enough waves for surfing and a different way of life - but without the expense or jet lag of a long-haul flight.  Choosing to go to Morocco on the hunt for sunshine in November was always a gamble, but thankfully the weather gods were smiling on us (for all but 2 days of our trip) and we did indeed come back bronzed and refreshed, content to be back in Verbier and ready to start the winter season.

Just three of Morocco's many, many waifs and strays

We started our trip in Essaouira, which lies about three hours' drive west of Marrakech on the Atlantic coast.  A city by the sea, it is made up of the Medina (old walled town) by the harbour, with the new town stretching (and growing at quite a rate) away from it.  We stayed in a small riad in the Medina, an extremely lucky find, where we were looked after beautifully whilst being given many fascinating insights into the local scene, customs, mentality and way of life by the English/Moroccan couple who run the place.  They were very relaxed and more than happy for us to use the kitchen... but with only five days and hundreds of places to eat out, I was happy to hang up my chef's whites and be indulged and titillated by what Essaouira's food scene had to offer.  With only a couple of duds (one being the over-priced fish stalls on the harbour, hell-bent on fleecing tourists), we ate like kings - but at paupers'  prices - during our stay.  Having got into our stride on the Cornish coast, we continued our seafood love affair and ate fish for almost every lunch and dinner - bream, sardines, mackerel, red mullet and other species that I couldn't even recognise.  The local style is to butterfly the fish, grill over a hot fire and serve with local bread and a salad of tomatoes, herbs, green peppers & red onions - simple, delicious and the kind of thing we long for whilst living in the mountains.  But we deviated from fish one lunchtime, following a hot tip from our host: the 'couscous lady' in the little side street of Berber cafés, who only opens on Friday lunchtime - we were warned that she usually runs out early, such is her popularity with the locals, so we were excited to find that she had some left when we arrived: a bowl of perfectly-cooked couscous with chicken and vegetables, all for 20MAD (less than 2€) each.

Side street where we at lunch from the couscous lady of Essaouira 

The rain came the day before we left Essaouira and followed us as we headed down the coast to Imssouane, a tiny fishing village beloved by surfers for its long, rolling waves and laid-back vibe.  Our arrival was inauspicious: torrential rain making its way through every nook and cranny in our auberge, which made Fawlty Towers look like a slick, professional operation.  The morning after our first night, woken by the sounds of screaming drills and hollering builders, we headed out in search of improved (and completed) accommodation - spying some rather smart houses on the hill, we met Saïd, who seemed to be Imssouane's local fixer: the man with a plan, everybody's friend and our saviour.  He led us to a simple but spacious and clean one-bedroom apartment on the second floor with a huge terrace and panoramic views of the bay.  And, to make things even better, the rain had gone (for good) and the sun was out in force.  We settled in and things were looking up - after a storm out at sea, the waves were settling down into something quite surfable, I had a big (and, quite importantly, private) space for sunbathing and we had found our way around the village (it took us all of 10 minutes).  We didn't need a big selection of restaurants - we found our favourite café and, besides, I had some cooking to get down to... with two fresh bream bought from the fishermen that morning, we picked up olive oil, spices, vegetables and herbs and headed home to cook and eat our first ever fish tagine.  Following the suggested method of the young chef at Imssouane Café, we put our faith in impeccably fresh fish and a tried and tested Moroccan classic.  We weren't disappointed - it was delicious, thanks partly to our efforts and largely down to the quality of what was at hand.  Luckily, we'd been warned that Imssouane doesn't have any alcohol shops, so we had bought a bottle of Domaine de Sahari gris (like a light rosé) with us from Essaouira - the perfect match for the delicate fish, spices and veg.

Swell lines coming into the bay, Imssouane

High street, Imssouane

Fish tagine in the making...

... and the end result

My favourite stray pup outside Momo's surf shack, Imssouane

We were sad to leave Imssouane, but felt excited about our visit to Marrakech, tinged with a sensation that we were about to get a rude awakening - after 10 days of laid-back living surrounded by the ocean, we were heading into the lion's den.  Gorgeous, dirty, manic, exotic, relentless... Marrakech is a lot to take in, but what a feast for the senses it is.  We weren't there to shop, yet within 24 hours we were on a mission to find the ideal Moroccan teapot (having already purchased a wonderful backgammon and chess set made from tuya wood and lemon tree in Essouira), which we continued until we fell up "the one" on our penultimate day.  But even if you don't intend to buy, the Marrakchi stall holders will find a way to draw you in - with mind games and cunning ploys that should earn them high-ranking positions in politics, the young men of Marrakech were playing a game that everyone was involved in, but only they knew the rules.  Our song for the Marrakech leg of our trip became "I'm a hustler, baby" - and with good reason.  But it's all part of the rich experience... isn't it?  The mopeds, however, we could really do without - no matter how tiny (or seemingly pedestrianised) the street (even inside the souks), we were constantly jumping out of the way of two-wheeled vehicles bearing anything up to five people, weaving and tooting their way around the pedestrians and each other.  Amazingly, we didn't see one crash or accident the whole time we were there.

Our Moroccan teapot at sunset on our riad's roof terrace, Marrakech
Patisserie stall, Marrakech souk

Marrakech is famed for its diversity of restaurants - there seem to be a vast amount of places serving European and south-east Asian cuisine, but if you spend long enough in Morocco, you'd be forgiven for hankering after something other than tagine, couscous, harira and brochettes... wouldn't you?  Ah, but you'd be (partly) wrong as there are so many other Moroccan delicacies to seek out, such as briouates (parcels of vegetables, meat or seafood wrapped in filo pastry), pastillas (with a variety of fillings, but arguably the best is pigeon and almonds) and wonderful patisseries filled with almond paste (like marzipan) or peanut butter (much coarser and darker than what you find at home) and scented with orange blossom, rosewater and spices.  There are some restaurants, usually to be found in riads, that combine European touches, techniques and standards with a Moroccan team and style, resulting in a seriously special evening - we were recommended a French riad near Place Djaama el Fna (the epicentre of Marrakchi nightlife and craziness) that really blew us away - four elegant, delicious courses served to us by a friendly, charming team in the most beautiful poolside setting.

Place Djaama el Fna, Marrakech

Spices and stuff, Marrakech

But, inspired by our wonderful bargain couscous lunch in Essaouira, when we walked past a tiny opening in a small side-street with a row of tagines bubbling away on the pavement and enticing smells beckoning us, we were instantly curious - we were seated at a long, narrow table and, within minutes, were joined by a bunch of locals in their blue workman's overalls.  Language instantly became redundant as we all got stuck into delicious lamb or chicken tagine - our smiles were saying it all, with occasional tears & laughter when one of us (Moroccans included, I was comforted to see) got a mouthful with a particularly hot chilli.  Utterly inspired, now we just have to figure out how we're going to introduce tagines and couscous to the slopes of Verbier...

Tagines cooking for lunch, Marrakech

Koutoubia Mosque and the Atlas Mountains

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Monday, 26 September 2011

Battening down the hatches and bottling it

When I wrote my last blog, I knew we were teetering on the edge of summer, ready to topple head-first into autumn... but I had forgotten just how impressive Cornish sideways rain can be, thanks to gale-force winds straight off the Celtic Sea.  However, Cornish flora - just like the fauna (I include native Kernowyon in this) - is made of strong stuff and, despite spending storm-ravaged nights convinced the roof would blow off our little cowshed (that's if it wasn't crushed by a falling tree first), Treverra has survived the autumnal storms so far and is looking lovely (no small thanks to the team who keep it all going, with special creds this week going to the boys in rubber who spent two days in masks and wetsuits repairing the magic pool cover).

Treverra after a good ravishing by Katia

Men In Black come to the aid of the Treverra pool cover

Ironically, given the tempestuous weather, we're experiencing a lovely little lull right now, a calm patch in between the busy summer and October's half term holidays and shooting parties.  With the tourists mostly gone (except in Padstow - it seems it's always busy in Padstow), the Cornish roads are emptier (and safer without Rock Mummies careering around in Chelsea tractors and their big-wig husbands taking road rage to new heights) and the beaches are tranquil.  But the hedgerows and trees... they are busting out all over the place with apples, damsons and autumn berries.  So, what's a girl to do except buy 8 litres of gin and get stuck in?  Ahhh, damsons, you sexy little things - eye-wateringly sharp, yet with a wonderful depth of flavour and a velvety, delicously dark hue.  With Hurrican Katia rampaging outside, I turned about 4kg of damsons picked from the field next door into damson ketchup (a Mother Chef special recipe) and another 5kg into damson gin, its aromatic, boozy fug enveloping the house.

Damson ketchup - from the Mother Chef, aka Gill Fuglesang
8 lb damsons

8 oz currants

1 lb onions, chopped small
2 oz coarse salt

1 lb Demerara sugar

2 pints distilled white vinegar

Tie up the following in muslin
6-8 dried chillies

1 tblspn black peppercorns

1 tblspn mustard seeds

½ oz dried root ginger, crushed a bit first (I usually just use about 1 oz fresh grated)

½ oz allspice berries
2 whole garlic cloves

To save having to stone the damsons by hand, I just very gently heat them until the juice runs and they go soft enough to put on the rubber gloves and squeeze them through a colander, pushing the pulp and juice through into a large pan and trapping the stones, being careful to put all the pulp back in the pan.  Add currants, onions and the bag of spices.  Add 1 pint of the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 30 mins or until mixture is soft. 
Then remove the bag of spices, place contents of pan in a liquidiser and blend until perfectly smooth.  Rinse out the pan and return the purée and bag of spices to it, add the salt, sugar and remaining 1 pint of vinegar.  Bring to simmer and cook gently, uncovered, for 1½ - 2 hrs or until the ketchup has reduced to approximately 3½ pints.  (From experience I know that you should have it slightly thinner than you would like it when you bottle it as it thickens as the months/years go on - especially years!)  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and leave to cool for a few minutes before pouring into bottles.  The recipe tells you to then sterilise the bottles for 10 mins, I never have done and have never had a problem with ketchup going off so I wouldn't bother if I were you (that's my mother for you - cavalier as ever, and usually she gets away with it, but I'd advise you to wash and rinse the bottles thoroughly and put them in an oven at 90°C for 10 minutes to make sure they're sterile before filling them).  Leave for at least 6 months before eating to allow the ketchup to mellow.

Autumn and damsons have definitely come to Treverra

Damson gin - getting eyed up from all sides, I just hope it makes it to next autumn

Damson ketchup - like being a paid assassin, it's a messy job, but someone's got to do it...

Sadly, due to damsons' tannins, the gin and ketchup need to mature for a while before they are fit for consumption.  Luckily, there are a few other Treverra-made treats to sample in the meantime: apple & rosemary jelly, "44" (a Madagascan recipe where you steep an orange, 44 coffee beans, 44 teaspoons of sugar and a few vanilla pods in a litre of gin for about 44 days - if a measure of that doesn't warm you up in winter, I can only suggest a second, third or even fourth attempt...) and raspberry vinegar.

Typically, this being Cornwall, my cosy, autumnal domestic bliss may be short-lived.  Apparently we are getting an Indian summer on Wednesday, bringing blazing sunshine and temperatures well into the 20s (for a couple of days, anyway).  Which is most excellent news - my damsons are dealt with, the garden's looking lovely, the pool cover is fixed - bring on the Pimms and a bikini.

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Saturday, 3 September 2011

Summertime, and the cooking is easy

In my family, the BBQ season has been known to start as early as March.  In fact, as long as there's not actually snow or frost on the ground... GAME ON!  Even rain doesn't stop play - just find a bit of shelter and it's all good.  (Perfect example was many years ago at my dad's birthday BBQ on 6th July - the rain started at 4pm and didn't stop.  Undeterred, my Uncle Rob - Head BBQ Chef for the night - stationed the Webbers in an open-sided, roofed area behind the house and cooked his way through the steaks, seafood and chickens in order to feed the 70 guests.  The guests, for their part, felt sorry for him outside so kept the booze flowing in his direction.  3 hours and about 60 units of alcohol later, Rob emerged red-eyed from the smoke and a bit unsteady on his feet, to announce: "I'm nissed as a pewt."  Bravo, sir.)

BBQs have always been a big favourite here at Treverra Farm and this summer has been no exception, but we entered a whole new league with the unleashing of the fire pit for some hardcore Argentinian asado action the other night.  The lovely Loftuses arrived with five organic, free-range chickens that had been spatchcocked and then were marinated in olive oil, lemon & rosemary.  A make-shift spit was created out of some metal stakes, the chickens were skewered and then suspended over the fire.  Watched by his team (fuelled by Dark 'n' Stormies and Provençal rosé), Charlie was a man on a mission, braving the searing heat to baste the chickens, rotating and adjusting them until they were cooked to succulent, smoky perfection.  Add a perfect Cornish summer's evening, with some potatoes baking slowly in the embers and some salads from the garden, we couldn't ask for more... the arrival of our neighbours in their helicopter overhead was simply the icing on the cake (thanks to Jo for the fantastic aerial shot).

Photo by Joanna Vestey

Dark 'n' Stormies
Half-fill a glass with ice cubes, then add a slug of good dark rum (Morgan's Spiced is great here), top up with ginger beer (Old Jamaica has a nice kick to it) and squeeze in a couple of wedges of lime.  Most importantly, make sure the BBQ chef's glass is topped up AT ALL TIMES.

But Cornwall is, without a doubt, one of the best places to get seafood that I've ever known and it's at the heart of many dinners here.  I am very lucky to get my fish from Matthews Stevens & Son, based in Newlyn, who have supplied me for the past two summers with gorgeous, locally-landed fish. On Thursday evening, with 10 for dinner and the sunny days stretching on, I rode the Mediterranean vibe I was feeling and looked to Ottolenghi for inspiration.  One of my favourite chefs, his recipes really come into their own during the summer - fresh, light, delicious dishes that are perfect for relaxed, communal eating.  As I prepped the salads, the Big Swede got the BBQ going, throwing fresh herbs onto the coals for added aroma and then cooking three large grey mullets that I'd prepared:

Whole grey mullet for the BBQ
You can use other whole fish here, like rainbow trout, salmon, sea bass, etc - grey mullet just happened to be available and particularly good at the time.  Ask your fishmonger to scale and gut the whole fish, then stuff the belly with herbs (I used coriander and flat-leaf parsley), slices of lemon & lime - ginger and chillis are also good.  Sprinkle olive oil in the belly and season.  Cut a few slits in the skin and rub with olive oil, sea salt & black pepper, then wrap in foil.  Once the BBQ is ready, cook for about 10 minutes on each side until just cooked through, then you can lift the flesh off the bone onto a warmed platter, scatter with chopped herbs and serve with wedges of lemon.

Photo by David Loftus
Summer dinner for 10

To start:
  • Chargrilled nectarines & Prosciutto, with endive & baby chard leaves and a Balsamic, maple & rosewater dressing
Remove stones and slice nectarines vertically into 6 wedges, then toss in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Heat up griddle and char the slices to give them distinct grill-lines on all sides.  On a platter, lay out torn endive, the Prosciutto and the nectarine slices, then scatter over the baby chard leave and drizzle with dressing of olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, rosewater, salt & pepper.

Main course:
  • BBQ whole grey mullet with lemon, lime & herbs and a tarragon aïoli
  • Fillets of sea bream with a tahini, lemon & parsley sauce, scattered with pomegranate seeds
  • Camargue red rice & quinoa with orange & pistachios
  • Fennel & feta with pomegranate seeds & sumac
  • Cucumber & poppy seed salad
  • French beans & mangetout with hazelnuts & orange
  • Baby leaf green salad
And finally:
  • Blackberry tart with crème fraîche sorbet (blackberries picked from the field next door)
Blackberry tart (recipe adapted from the Cherry Tart recipe in Bill Granger's book "Holiday")
To make the pastry, melt and cool 125g unsalted butter, then mix in 90g caster sugar, followed by 175g plain flour and a pinch of salt to make a soft dough.  Press the mix into a greased, 24cm round, loose-bottomed tart tin, place onto a baking tray and cook at 180°C for 12-15 mins until the pastry is puffing up.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of ground almonds over the base, then leave to cool.
For the filling, whisk together 170ml cream, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 3 tablespoons of caster sugar. Add 2 tablespoons of plain flour and whisk until well mixed.  Arrange a couple of large handfuls of fresh blackberries (or cherries - stoned and halved - or other soft fruit that's in season), slightly overlapping, over the pastry base and pour the cream filling evenly over the fruit.  Return the tart to the oven for a further 40-50 minutes until the filling is firm.  Leave to cool and serve with cream or ice cream.

Crème fraîche sorbet
In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups crème fraîche, ¾ cup cane syrup (if you can find it - I mix half & half golden syrup with homemade sugar syrup), a good pinch of salt, ¼ cup lemon juice and ¼ cup sugar (I didn't have quite enough crème fraîche this time, so I made up the quantity with a bit of vanilla yoghurt and it worked beautifully - I may be onto something...)  Chill the mix in the freezer for about 15 mins and then transfer to an ice-cream machine to chill and churn for about 30-45 mins (check your machine's guidelines).  Keep in the freezer - this is best made the day before to give it time to firm up and then it's best eaten within a few days of making.

True to form, I made more food than even 10 hungry mouths could eat, but the great thing about all the dishes above is that the leftovers make for no-effort lunches over the next couple of days, leaving you to enjoy the last hazy, lazy days of summer... isn't that what it's all about?

Daymer Bay
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Monday, 22 August 2011

Plus ça change...

Our studio on Treverra Farm
I woke up to the sound of a small creature clamouring for attention outside my window, followed by a chorus of buzzing: flies. The inquisitive small child has now gone, but the cows are back in the field next door, which means they bring their little friends with them. Joy. Still, one look at my view of rolling green fields, perfect lawn, summer flowers and blue, endless sky is enough to soothe my fly-angst (not to mention a frenzied attack with a fly swat that killed about 10 of the buggers).

Near Lundy Bay
Sound familiar? There are indeed echoes of my time spent in the Tarn, my busy life working as a chef in a beautiful, tranquil corner of France with many creatures of all sizes to entertain and infuriate me. But Le Manoir de Raynaudes is long gone and I have moved onto new pastures (and cows, and flies...) My life is still nomadic, but I'm getting a sort of rhythm going, which feels like progress - I've found places I keep wanting to return to. And someone to return with: the Big Swede. Well, actually he's a French-Swedish hybrid, but the name suits him and it's stuck. We met in the Swiss Alps and are set to return there for our third winter together. For the summers, we live in Cornwall, with me working as a private chef and him mostly working on his surfing. Together, we look after the guests staying in a beautiful house and cottage in an idyllic site on the north Cornwall coast, set up away from the swarming crowds of tourists, with an uninterrupted view of fields and the estuary. Life doesn't get much better than this.

Treverra Farm House
Before I get lost in smug ramblings, I must remember the point of reigniting the blog: food. It turns out that my comments and photos on Twitter or Facebook about something I've just cooked are prompting responses along the lines of "Enough with the chat and give us the recipe, woman!!" When I post recipes, I'll do my best to be accurate with the quantities and be clear in my methods, but feel free to ask me if something just doesn't add up. First up: slow roast pork.

Although I've always been a fan of cured or smoked pork - Spanish jamón Iberico and chorizo, Prosciutto, Salami, etc - and it's true that I view sausages as a sacred food group in their own right, I was never a fan of roast pork. Dry, uninspiring, bland... and I never got the point of crackling. But then I tasted slow-roast pork belly in Spain and things shifted - pork that was juicy, super-tender and almost caramelised. So I experimented over and over again, changing recipes, methods, timings, temperatures, suppliers - everything in the quest to recreate the mouth-watering dish I'd eaten all that time ago. Results varied and, despite a few moderate successes, I was far from satisfied. But then I received a golden piece of advice: forget perfect meat AND perfect crackling - you can't get both at the same time. So I divided and conquered:

Slow roast pork, salads and roast potatoes & red onions
This recipe and method have worked for me with both pork belly and a shoulder of pork - the former is better for smaller numbers, whereas a whole shoulder of pork (bone in) is a great way to feed about 20 people. The paste recipe is adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Aromatic shoulder of pork ‘Donnie Brasco’ and the method is thanks to Jamie Oliver and his brilliant advice, which he based on much experience and many conversations with "meat geeks"...

For the paste to rub on the meat
In a pestle & mortar or a coffee grinder, pulverise:
2 star anise
2 tsp fennel seeds
4 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns

Add 1 tblspn of this powder (you can keep the rest in an airtight jar for future use) to the following (if you've got a stick blender with a mini chopper accessory, this is ideal - if not, you can grate the garlic and ginger and mash everything in the pestle & mortar):
5 large garlic cloves, peeled
5cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled
2 tspns dried chilli flakes
2 tspns ground ginger
1 tblspn brown sugar
4 tblspns flaky salt
1 tblspn sunflower or groundnut oil
1 tblspn soy sauce


Pork belly (it's tricky to give weight - best to ask your butcher based on how many of you there are and use your eyes to gauge how much you want to eat - and remember that the meat will shrink by about a quarter during cooking), OR
Whole shoulder of pork, which weighs between 5kg and 8kg

Cooking - bearing in mind cooking times, you will need to get things going up to a day in advance
Turn your oven to 110°C.
Take the skin off the meat, using a small, sharp knife, causing as little damage as possible to the meat, the skin and your fingers. Score the skin with a sharp knife (a stanley knife works best if you have one), chop into strips or squares and put it in the fridge.
Line a roasting tin big enough to hold the piece of meat with two layers of tin foil that are big enough to wrap around the whole piece. Put the meat in the roasting tin and rub the paste all over it, then wrap the meat up and seal up the foil around it.
Put the meat in the oven for about 6 hours for a piece of pork belly or up to 24 hours for a big, whole shoulder of pork. That's very approximate, by the way - it should be wet at all times and you cook it under the meat is falling apart - check it a couple of times during cooking and turn it over once or twice.
When it's finished cooking, remove the pork from the oven and turn it to 160°C, transfer the meat from the foil into a roasting tin and strain the juices into a saucepan. You can smother the meat in a jelly of some kind at this point (I used a homemade red- and white-currant jelly) and put it in the oven for about 20 mins (belly) to 45 mins (shoulder) to dry out a bit.
Heat the juices in the pan and reduce to a nice saucy consistency - add a teaspoon of jelly if you want to sweeten it a bit and a squeeze of lemon often doesn't hurt if it needs a zesty kick.
Meanwhile, for the crackling, sprinkle salt on the skin and lay it in one layer in a roasting tin in a searingly hot oven (250°C-ish) for about 20-30 mins until it is crunchy, but don't let it burn. Sprinkle with more salt if you fancy before serving.
To serve the meat, pull out any bones and discard them then, using two forks, tear the meat apart and put onto a warmed platter. Put the sauce in a jug to serve on the side.
What you serve it with depends on you and your guests - my favourite accompaniments have been sticky coconut rice, chargrilled broccoli with chilli & garlic and Jamie's free-styled salad of finely diced carrots, cucumber, apple & coconut with tarragon & parsley and a dressing made by tempering oil with mustard seeds, ginger & cumin, finished off with a good squeeze of lemon - a bit off-the-wall on its own but AMAZING with the pork and coconut rice. Last night I was feeding 16 guests, some of whom had more conservative tastes, so I did balsamic-roasted new potatoes & red onions, a marinated green bean salad with a Dijon & shallot dressing, a crunchy salad of carrots, fennel, cucumber & courgette and a simple green leaf salad.

We ate leftovers at about 10.30pm last night and I am still rather full, so have managed no more than a cup of detox tea so far this morning (pathetic, really). The Big Swede, however, got up at 5.30am to go surfing (the buzz on the Twittersphere tells me it's the best swell of the season so far, so there is method to his madness) so he will probably return soon, absolutely famished, and I can attempt to assuage his hunger with a sandwich of torn, slow-roast pork, some garden lettuce and a bit of English mustard and mayo. Ooh, is that my appetite I can feel returning?