IF music be the food of love, play on." Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, but you knew that.

How ironic (inevitable?) that the only literary quotation I can recall from my school days, should be about food. And, indeed, music. The two often seem to go hand in hand, especially in professional kitchens where the playing of music is contentious.

In one of my first jobs, in a hectic London brasserie, the blaring radio was as essential as coffee and oxygen. In smarter (ie Michelin starred) establishments, I discovered that coffee and music were usurped by silent, disciplined focus. The only sound was the chef's voice and our obedient responses.

Yet at home, I would never dream of cooking in silence. Music and food make harmonious partners, so when we refurbished the restaurant earlier this year, we installed music in the dining room - a response to many guests who had found things starchy in the past.

One Italian chef I worked for happily combined music (opera, naturally) and food, both in the kitchen and on the plate: "pane carasatu", or music bread, is the wafer-thin, crisp bread found either in the bread basket or as a canapé base in southern Italy. Topped with slivers of cold cuts, raw vegetables or mousse, its brittle crunch is irresistible - eaten, of course, with music.

Pane carasatu (Sardinian music bread) with parma ham, marinated fennel and chives

Recipes serve 6

1 packet pane carasatu, available from delicatessens or online

Parma ham, about 2 slices per person

1 bulb fennel, preferably with leafy herb intact

A few radishes, optional

For the vinaigrette:

1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard

80ml tarragon vinegar

80ml vegetable or rapeseed oil

120ml olive oil

Pinch of salt

A generous pinch of sugar

Fresh black pepper

1 lemon


1. Place vinaigrette ingredients (except the oils and lemon) in a bowl and briefly whisk to combine thoroughly. Gradually and very slowly whisk in the oils. Taste and adjust as desired: it should be reasonably acidic. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Refrigerate until required in a screw-cap jar (will last several days).

2. Remove the fennel herb from the top of the bulb. Place in a small tub covered with damp kitchen paper towel and refrigerate. Halve the fennel bulb lengthways; cut out the root and discard. Slice across the width of fennel, to give fine, half-moon-shaped slivers. Place in a small bowl. Over these, squeeze a little lemon juice and season lightly with sea salt flakes. Add enough vinaigrette to cover it generously, but don't drown it in liquid. Set aside to marinade for one to several hours. Pick the fennel herb down with your fingers into smaller sized fronds, or chop roughly then set aside.

3. Break the music bread into pieces that are a suitable size to act as a large canapé base, then lay these out on a large serving platter.

4. Assemble as close to serving as possible: slice each piece of Parma ham into three, then fold up in billowy waves and place one slice on top of each piece of bread. Toss the fennel herb through the marinated fennel, keeping a little back for scattering over the top. Now spoon some of the chopped marinated fennel over the parma ham, sprinkling some of the fennel herb over as well. Slice the radishes in thin slivers (if using) and arrange one or two over each piece, or scatter them all over the plate. Add a few twists of pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil then serve immediately as a snack, canapé, or on top of a salad.


For the smoked trout pate

4 fillets smoked trout, about 400g

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 rounded dstsp thick crème fraiche

Fresh ground black pepper

1 dstsp finely chopped chives

For the pesto:

300g wild rocket

200g walnut halves

8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 red chillies

Zest of 1 lemon


1. Pesto: halve chillies lengthways, de-seed then slice roughly. Place rocket leaves, chilli and half of the walnuts in a blender jug. Add a quarter of the oil. Pulse a few times to chop finely then with the motor running, slowly add all the oil in a steady drizzle to process to a puree. Now add remaining walnuts and the lemon, and pulse, keeping the walnuts chunky. Place in an opaque container (to protect from the light), cover the pesto's surface with cling film then cover with a lid and refrigerate until needed. (Will keep for two days.)

2. Flake the trout flesh into a bowl, removing any skin and bones. Add the crème fraiche, pepper and lemon then beat powerfully with a firm spatula, wooden spoon or similar until it is flaked down, well mixed to form a coarse, textured puree. If it seems too stiff, add more crème fraiche. Adjust seasoning as necessary. Add the herbs and fold in then set aside until needed. (Can be done in advance and kept for 24 hours.) Be sure to remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

3. To serve: transfer the pesto to a small bowl and place the smoked trout mixture in a similar dish. Arrange on a serving platter then break up the music bread and arrange around the outside of the platter. Place two spoons in the bowls of pesto and smoked fish pate then let everyone help themselves, spooning some of the fish onto a piece of music bread, before topping it with some pesto.

Geoffrey Smeddle is the chef patron of The Peat Inn, by St Andrews, Fife, KY15 5LH 01334 840206 www.thepeatinn.co.uk