This is customer service, folks. Merle and I were recently in a restaurant in Zurich, Switzerland (on our way to a 10-day meeting). We had tracked down this little place on a tiny street because the locals recommended it.
The menu was in German, and since neither of us knows much more than “Kalbfleisch” and “Brot,” we asked for an English menu. That brought us our second waitress who was quite fluent in English, in contrast to our first server who had done her mighty best.
So now we had our English menus, but I was still stuck, wondering what “sea devil” is. I was tempted by the sauce that dressed it and the polenta that surrounded it, but I really wanted to know what the fish (at least I assumed it was fish) was.
I finally understood three things from our patient server: sea devil has a texture and flavor similar to lobster; it’s taken from the back section of a monkfish; and monkfish are among the homeliest creatures ever.
I ordered the sea devil. Within minutes our server appeared at our table again, this time with a laptop. On the screen was a glaringly ugly monkfish from mouth to tail, looking every bit as bad as she had described. She showed us the section that’s edible, reassured me that looks have nothing to do with flavor, and left us til she was back with the food.
I loved the sea devil. The kitchen at the Gruenen Glas did it perfectly. And I felt very informed!
Here’s a great fish dish that capitalizes on the fresh veggies just showing up at the farmers markets and roadside stands in our area.
Roasted Fish on a Bed of Vegetables
Adapted from Favorite Recipes with Herbs, page 196
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Roasting Time: 43-45 minutes
8-12 small new potatoes, sliced thin
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 large bunch leeks, trimmed and sliced ¼” thick
8-12 plum tomatoes, sliced in half
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
4 white fish steaks, each 4- or 6-oz.
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Toss together potatoes, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.
2. Toss leeks with 1 more Tbsp. of olive oil, salt and pepper. Add to potatoes and roast for 10 minutes.
3. Toss tomatoes with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Add tomatoes to potato mixture and roast for 10 minutes.
5. Blend together ¼ cup olive oil, parsley, garlic, and basil. Brush over fish.
6. Arrange fish over vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Bake at 450° for 8-10 minutes.