Our dinner last night was salmon en croute with parmentier potatoes and French beans, which might suggest that my culinary skills are improving dramatically. Not so. Marks & Spencer were offering "dine in for £10" this weekend and I took advantage. It really represents pretty good value: a main dish, a side dish, a dessert - each for two people - and a bottle of wine, all for £10. Inside the pastry and on top of the salmon was watercress sauce. I'm sure it's not a new dish, but this is only the second time I have ever eaten it. The previous occasion was when, not all that long ago, we bought some salmon fillets from another superwotsit and they came with a sachet of the sauce. I suppose this - watercress sauce - will be the in thing, the flavour of the next few months, before a new fad hits the block.
I've noticed that while some dishes stay around for years and years, others come and go. Go into any pub where food is served and you will almost certainly find scampi and chips on the menu, just as has been the case for many years. But prawn cocktail, a regular on restaurant menus 50 years ago, disappeared for decades and has, in the last year or so, made a return.
On the dessert side, it is almost impossible, either in England or in France, to find a menu without tiramisu. But whatever happened to Black Forest gateau? Another common feature of the dessert menu in France is ginger ice cream. This is generally served with apple dishes such as tarte Tatin in place of vanilla ice cream and the slight sharpness complements the apple beautifully. It is possible to buy a common brand of ginger ice cream in French shops but although the brand is widely available here, the ginger ice cream has yet to make an appearance. That said, I understand that Tesco's sell it under their own name but in small tubs and at a high price. No doubt it will be sold over here before too much longer. But what, I wonder, will be the fad after that?