If you saw me you would guess that I'm no stranger to a square meal. I love food and all its accompaniments. I spend a lot of time thinking about it; my most reliable memories of any occasion are what I ate and what I wore. It's a family thing. I call Papa Starke and he tells me what he's cooked this week, Me and Mr Starke still go back to the restaurant where we had our first date (though at the time we didn't know that's what it was). After a picky start in life, Master Starke was described as having "a canny appetite" admiringly by the waitress in the GNER restaurant car. The Glamour Puss is an aberration but Prof. does his best to corrupt her.
As a child I was (too) well fed, Mama Starke cooked every day; we all had our tea together when Papa S. got home and then on Tuesdays he cooked when Mama went out. I particularly loved the sweet stuff and though I wasn't allowed "trashy" i.e. cheap chewy or hard sweeties I managed to keep the dentist busy with my diet of "pop", biscuits and home baking. This was South Wales in the seventies so our raw materials were limited, strawberries and cream were usually tinned and as we didn't get a fridge freezer until I was seven ( the box made a brilliant slide down our steep back garden) and a shop with a frozen food department 'til I was ten, ice cream was most often a take away treat not a dish eaten at home. My favourites then were "Funny Feet" and when I was flush with pocket money a "Heart". Both of these are long gone and were possibly at opposite ends of the ice cream on a stick spectrum. The first a highly synthetic confection, in the shape of a comedy foot complete with smiling face and in a chocolatey flavour, the latter more sophisticated, a dark chocolate heart around vanilla ice cream with a red ripples at the centre. There was another with red jelly inside but I can't remember its name.
As an adult I'm not a massive fan of ice cream, it's never my first choice for pud, all too often it leaves a nasty after taste but I still love the idea of ice cream. I'm a huge sucker for the image of the Passeggiata; strolling around late at night with an ice cream. Summer hols this year were on the Ile de Re, based in St Martin where there just happens to be a famous ice cream shop (or artisan glacier if you're being posh) La Martiniere.
Even on the colder days there was a queue. I liked wondering at the flavours, although Poppy? The only poppy product I could think of was far less innocuous than ice cream. And then Schtroumpf, that means Smurf doesn't it? and it was blue, poor little things.
I've just checked the website, it doesn't list poppy (Coquelicot) maybe that was just my feverish imagination; also the Smurfs are in a sorbet not an ice cream.
Back home we've been enjoying gorgeous weather, last weekend we were "doon the watter" in Rothesay. There the local ice cream also has a famous name, Zavaroni but comes in one flavour, vanilla but a variety of presentations. For the record Mr Starke favours the "99", me the double nougat wafer, did I mention I like my food???
I don't have any pictures of those, sunshine and holding Dogstarke's lead made photography tricky but here's Rothesay and old and new ways of getting there.
Last night back home we went out for a drink and stayed for dinner, at a restaurant not some unsuspecting friend's house. And how did we finish our meal? With the ideal dish for the undecided, Affogato, as our waiter observed, coffee and dessert together. Vanilla ice cream and espresso, perfect. Sweet and bitter, just what I liked about those "Hearts" back in Wales.