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Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers Guide S01 E01
*Falmouth to Penclawwd*
Heading to the south coast, Rick discovers the delights of pilchards, bream, the weird and wonderful ormer, and cockles with laver bread.
Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers Guide S01 E02
Rick takes to the high seas off the north of Scotland in a massive trawler in search of the underrated herring. Along the north-east coast, he also discovers a superb but little known delicacy - the wolf-fish.
Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers Guide S01 E03
Rick travels along England's south coast from Dorset to Kent, discovering such fishy delights as fresh mackerel, sole, blue clams, gurnard, squid and rusty cannonballs.
Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers Guide S01 E04
*Morecambe Bay to Lochinver*
This edition comes from Morecambe Bay, famous for its sweet brown shrimps and wonderful flounder. Moving up the west coast of Scotland, Rick celebrates the joys of fresh salmon, oysters and scallops.
Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers Guide S01 E05
Rick continues on his journey around the British coast. This edition comes from Northern Ireland, which is famous for its silver eels, edible seaweed, superb langoustines and the pollan, a curious type of herring.
Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers Guide S01 E06
*KingÆ Lynn, Cromer, Lowestoft*
Rick's in East Anglia, where the waters are famous for the local crab and the marshes are full of samphire, otherwise known as poor man's asparagus. Dish of the day simply has to be a crab and samphire risotto.
Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers Guide S01 E07
Rick's off to Ireland, finding salted ling in Cork, wild smoked salmon, fresh-run sea trout, people passionate about real food and a wonderful pudding made from sea moss.
Rick Stein's Seafood Lovers Guide S01 E08
*Whitby to Grimsby*
Rick's sniffing out fresh seafood delights in Whitby, famous for its beautifully fresh cod, and sweet smoked kippers. Later, a trip to Lochinver uncovers an extremely ugly fish caught deep down in the Atlantic. And back in Padstow, Rick prepares halibut with cucumber, and salmon en croute
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There can be few chefs to have appeared on our screens and garnered as much praise from both the general public and their contemporaries as the redoubtable Rick Stein. Despite not having the rating figures or the book sales of Nigella or Jamie, despite not wallowing in the deifying cult status that Delia has garnered from the chattering classes, Rick Stein is easily the best chef to have graced our screens. Fanny, Johnny and the Galloping Gourmet may have laid the foundations. Delia, Ken, Keith and Madhur may have put up the substructure and Ashley, Jamie, Nigella et al may have supervised the fit-out. But make no mistake whatsoever; this is indeed Rick's house.
Not only has Stein stimulated a recent revival in fish cookery, he has similarly revived the cooking show genre and brought fresh life back to the format with this, the Seafood Lovers' Guide. Only the wonderful Gordon Ramsey's Boiling Point has came close in recent years to offering a new slant on food but whereas Boiling Point degenerated into a downward spiral of bad editing, poor sound and stereotyping of all the main players, the Lovers' Guide has, by way of contrast, breathed a lungful of fresh air into a format that had become stultifyingly boring and visually anaemic. Too many cooks may spoil the consommé but too many cookery shows definitely jade the viewing public's palette.
One of the many points that separate Stein from the herd is his natural enthusiasm, which is both appealing and beguiling. His passion for seafood is effortlessly conveyed, as is his expertise. His greatest gift is, for me, the ability to make the viewer desire a dish that previously they wouldn't have considered. Stein is a completely natural performer in front of the camera. Not for him the use of hackneyed clichés, dishes that clearly pander or lifestyle appeal - just an engaging and endearing love and championing of seafood. (Also, I've laboured the point before about people seeking out ingredients used by Stein in his shows, but it genuinely bears repeating that he generates impressive increases in product sales in the days following a show.)
His first series, Taste of the Sea appeared on our screens in 1995 and Stein has been an irregularly regular face since. With Taste of the Sea, Fruits of the Sea (1997), Seafood Odyssey (1999) and Lovers' Guide he has, thankfully, carefully restricted the amount of appearances he gives over the years but given that he runs an award winning restaurant this should come as no surprise. Actually, his restaurant (now with café, hotel, deli etc.) has just recently celebrated 25 years of business, so Stein can hardly be described as an overnight success by any means. Not only has his restaurant garnered awards, his books have also done so as have his shows - so clearly he is more than adept at projecting himself and doing so at a consistently high level.
The specific pleasure of Lovers' Guide is the way that Stein would devote each show to a part of the country and enthuse over the local produce. Whether it is oysters responsibly farmed in Loch Fyne or cod caught off the bleak Suffolk coast, this was one man's odyssey to show to the nation the richness and diversity of the coastline around Britain and Ireland. Not only does he supremely demonstrate what to eat but, equally importantly, where to buy it and how to cook it.
The show didn't just include the best that the area had to offer, but Stein would also speak knowledgeably, and often forcefully, on matters outwith the general remit of a cookery programme. Matters environmental, political, social, and historical are touched upon, discussed, debated and dissected in an intelligent and frank manner. (For instance, he is putting his money where his mouth is in a bid to help struggling Cornish fisherman. He is one of the patrons of the Duchy Fish Quote Company, which aims to raise £15m to buy fishing rights for young Cornish fishermen). He would maintain that delicate balance twixt the chef's enthusiasm for the product and a healthy dismay at the state of the fisheries after decades of thoughtless, relentless and remorseless over-fishing. Yet the overall tone is not one of pessimism. Stein always manages to find a form of redemption, a distillation of hope wherever he is. Always he is in love (hopelessly so) with both his surroundings and the raw materials with which he concocts his stunning recipes. Importantly, his recipes are always simple. As Stein himself says, his passion is for "simple seafood - nothing is more exhilarating than fresh fish simply cooked."
This ethos is translated into the mechanics of the show. No naughty winks or poor jokes when breaking the fourth wall. No lingering close ups of the chef. No lengthy impassioned off topic rants. Simply a programme in which a good man visits good people and places, and cooks good food. In essence, the Seafood Lovers' Guide is an uncomplicated and undemanding show that is utterly free of any pretensions. This is a television programme which sets an impressive benchmark for its competitors to aspire to. Long may Rick Stein trawl our television schedules.