Britannia News

In this month's edition

Wine of the Month / Diary Date / Travel writer David Atkinson talks Galway / Food critic Isabel Hood talks wild salmon

Oysters are typically sold, and best eaten, in the months containing an “R” (September to April) according to Decanter magazine. Writing in the publication, Master Sommelier Matthieu Longuere, recommended pairing the shellfish with a 2014 Muscadet Terre de Pierre-Marie from the Loire. The lemony notes will complement perfectly a shucked oyster or two.

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The Irish city of Galway may be gearing up to be one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2020 but the craic starts early on the last weekend of September with the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival — the traditional start of the oyster season.

The three-day festival includes cookery demonstrations, tastings at local restaurants and an oyster-shucking championship, plus lots of fresh oysters all washed down with lashings of champagne and Guinness.

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“The season for wild salmon is coming to an end... now is the time to celebrate its splendour and give it the royal treatment this firm, velvety, Omega 3-rich food deserves.

It is a versatile fish in the kitchen, marrying successfully with both breezy, sparkling partners like aromatic herbs, citrus fruit, even tamarind and Greek yoghurt, as well the opulence of butter, cream, crème fraîche and eggs.

At its simplest, it can be fried skin side down, pressed firmly with a spatula to ensure a crisp golden surface, and dished up perhaps on a bed of pasta tossed with pesto, sweet cherry tomatoes and a fresh, lemony goat’s cheese.

A more traditional approach is to poach it in a winey broth before serving with a classic hollandaise sauce, but an ideal partner to its rich meatiness and sweet flavour is a bright, herby though delicate Salsa Verde-type sauce, along the lines of dill and orange; or try adding a light Asian influence, with fresh coriander, a squeeze of lime, a mild green chilli and a dash of toasted sesame oil.

Wild salmon also sits happily on the BBQ although it can dry out in the blink of an eye so let the embers die well down and rub the fish with plenty of fruity olive oil, sea salt and coarse black pepper; and then, when it is done, give it a Moroccan twist with a chermoula vinaigrette full of olives, preserved lemons, cumin, paprika and toasted flaked almonds.