Liverpool Central Library and Cod and Coconut Curry

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Taking advantage of my extended stay in the UK, I have been taking in the museums and art galleries, along with visits to the theatre and wonderful parks that the city has to offer.

 

Situated on William Brown Street in the cultural district of Liverpool, flanked by the Walker Art Gallery and The City Museum (now known as ‘World Museum Liverpool’), the recently renovated Liverpool Central Library (formally ‘The William Brown Library’) is one of the largest and most beautiful libraries in the UK and is certainly worth a visit. Sir James Picton (2nd Dec 1805 – 15th July 1889) was a Liverpool born architect and antiquarian who played a large part in the public life of the city in the 19th century, taking particular interest in the establishing of public libraries, and in 1852, he obtained through campaigning, an act of parliament to raise a 1 penny rate for the creation of a public library and museum in the city. Wealthy local merchant William Brown paid for the building on the proviso that the city council furnished the interior. To acknowledge his generosity the street on which the library stands was renamed after him.


A competition was held for the design of the new Library and Museum and was won by Thomas Allom. However, his winning design proved to be too costly and it was a revised version, designed by the City surveyor, John Weightman, which was actually built and opened in 1860 and in 1879 ‘The Picton Reading Room’, designed by Cornelius Sherlock was added to the William Brown Library.

The library, as well as having a wealth of books, houses the Liverpool archives, family history and records office and a huge I.T suite with 150 computers for the public use, plus a nice little Tea shop, where my friend Sue and I enjoyed a game of ‘Name that book’ selecting passages from paperback classics on stand nearby and reading them to each other with the cover hidden.

The stars of the show however, have to be the impressive central atrium with a spectacular spiral staircase ascending to the magnificent glass dome and roof terrace with commanding views over the Liverpool skyline and St George’s Hall, where my marriage was held last year (and most of the filming for ‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’ took place!)

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And of course, no article would be complete without mentioning ‘The Picton Reading room’ This is where classical truly meets modern and you feel as if you have been transported back in time and into a magical world of books. Due to my utter awe and respect for those using this place as a serious source of knowledge, I was loath to intrude and take photos, but I did manage a couple of very rushed shots (hence the poor quality), but would love to return when it is empty to snap away.

Now for less lofty pursuits and the recipe. The delicate flavours and divine aroma and sheer visual beauty of this fragrant curry are guaranteed to excite the senses – one of my all-time favourite ‘transition’ dishes ideal for spring when we are moving away from the strong flavours of autumn and winter, but not quite ready to embrace summer salads……..

Ingredients (serves 2)
2 Cod loin steaks cut into bite size portions
2 large or 4 medium scallops cut into 4 or 2
1 medium sweet potato cut into bite sized cubes
1 medium shallot finely chopped*
1 green chili finely chopped*
2 cm fresh ginger finely chopped*
2 cloves garlic crushed*
1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut*
1 tablespoon of rouille or concentrated fish sauce*
1 teaspoon of turmeric*
1 teaspoon of mild curry powder*
6 cardamom pods (split and husk discarded)*
The juice of one small lime*
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 can of coconut milk
Method
Blitz oil the * ingredients in a food processor and sauté gently in a little of the coconut oil for 1-2 minute
Add the sweet potatoes and cook for a further 3 – 4 minutes
Add the coconut milk and simmer gently for 20 minutes or until potatoes soft
Add the fish and scallops and cook for a further 5 – 6 minutes until fish cooked through

Serve with naan bread and a green salad

Out of interest Other interesting buildings in the city include the Piston tower in Wavertree, erected in 1884 as a memorial to Picton’s wife. Now standing on a traffic roundabout, this unusual building has a clock face on each of its four sides, four lamp posts at it’s base, and is topped by a lead cupola with a spire, and ‘The Lock up’ also in Wavertree, a two steory octagonal stone structure which was built to house short term prisoners in 1796, but Picton added a slate roof and a weathervane

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2 thoughts on “Liverpool Central Library and Cod and Coconut Curry

  1. Osyth says:

    Fascinating article … that is such a wonderful place! And the curry …. it’s nearly 11 at night and I have eaten perfectly well today but still I find myself drifting off and reasoning with myself that, on my own as I am this next week, there is no-one to tell me I can’t rustle up a very late night curry …. xxx

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