Lobster hunting with Tim and Joel from the Brighton Dive Centre, and Carla from Drakes Hotel and Restaurant to promote the Drakes Dive and Dine package was supposed to be a cinch. Plan was, just in case we didn't find any lobster, to take one with us to photograph, and Carla duly ordered one the day before to be kept overnight in the restaurant fridge. Up at the crack of dawn she was aghast to find the fridge bare of lobster - this wan't going to be a set up - we were in it for real. Fortunately for us, it was the perfect day for diving and we went over to the east side of Brighton Marina arm to Channel Gardens. Any doubt as to why it was named gardens rapidly disappeared as we waded and swam a little way from the beach then descended into a lush growth of kelp and underwater foliage of all descriptions. And it simply teemed with life: Fish of all sizes from little wrasse to bigger fellas [I will have to get my ID book out!], crabs, mussels, anemones and simply millions of sea stars [starfish]. Never have I seen such a profusion of sea stars in the UK! And then we found the first lobster, which gave Tim a good run for his money, before he managed to grab him and stow him safely in the goodie bag. I was a little disappointed that I hadn't managed to get a clear shot of him before the chase ensued, and we were about to head in when Tim caught sight of a real monster. I insisted on photographing him before Tim tried tickling him out from under his ledge. By then the lobster had gathered his wits about him and backed right out of reach, so as usual with fishing tales it was the big one that got away! We headed in with our catch, and left the monster for another day...
Meanwhile, back at Drakes, chef Andy had been set the not too onerous task of making a sea food feast with locally sourced fruits of the sea. I watched, listened and learned as he prepared the lobster and created a fabulous risotto with it [captions are with the pictures if you are not sure what is going on], and then joined Drakes GM Carla, Tim and Joel from the Brighton Dive Centre, food critic Andrew Kay and Brighton Food Festival Guru Nick Mosley for a fabulous meal on the terrace which included Rock Oysters, Mussels and a Grilled Mackerel Salad along with the ambrosial Lobster Risotto. Sitting in the sun sipping a crisp chilled glass of white wine with a view of the sea from whence our delicious feast had come - life really doesn't get much better than this...
All photos ©Julia Claxton.
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