Aug 042017

Isie Caie (left) from Cove In Bloom.

By Duncan Harley.

Isabella Catto Caie was well known in Cove and well known in Aberdeen. In the days when catches were bountiful, she could be seen hawking her wares at The Green. Later, as landings of fish at Cove declined, she took to buying from middlemen at the Market in Aberdeen before taking up her usual stance on the cobbles.

She had her regulars and, in the early days at least, could be easily spotted walking the six miles into Aberdeen, carrying a creel loaded with fish on her back to sell. Latterly, in old age, she took the bus to town.

According to legend, it might take two men to lift the heavy creel laden with fish on to her back before she set out on her journey into the city centre.

Latterly, folklore led to some late-fame and alongside a few pictures in the press she featured, at least the once, in a Press and Journal Calendar celebrating the heritage of the North-east.

Today, on a wind swept winters day, we had come to find her grave.

We parked just outside the church at Nigg and, as horizontal rain arrived to welcome us, threw on jackets and set off on foot around the graveyard. We fully expected a fruitless hunt; we had after all just trudged round St Fittick’s kirkyard following a misdirection. But, by now, Albertino was firmly in search-mode and nothing, not even a freezing February storm, was going to get in his way.

Within minutes a cry of “It’s over here Duncan” rang out and I made off in the direction of the shout.

There, arm outstretched and touching the gravestone of Isie Caie was a slightly distraught Albertino.

“How do you feel?” I asked.

“Emotional” came the reply.

“I feel very emotional now that we are here, I feel a connection.”

Brazilian Sculptor Albertino Costa had of course already established a connection with the lady known locally as Isie Caie.

Having lived and worked in Aberdeen for over 20 years, he had been commissioned by community group Cove in Bloom to design and create a sculpture commemorating ‘the spirit of the fishwife’.

Rather than simply create a romanticised studio based life sculpture of Cove’s most famous fishwife, Albertino’s approach was much more radical – he would work in public in the open air alongside the very harbour where the fishwife’s journey began.

Permission to site the project on the harbour-front was readily granted by land-owner Pralhad Kolhe and in summer 2016 work began on the quayside where a large block of white Italian marble began to slowly morph into a vibrant piece of community led sculpture.

From the very beginning visitors to Cove Harbour took an interest.

“People cannot resist watching someone doing something creative” says Albertino,

“the work is open for everyone to come and contribute and with no pre-conceived idea of the final form, it is easy to get people involved.”

From the very start says Albertino:

“creating the work live at Cove Bay gave the people a sense of ownership and a sense of deep connection both with each other and of course with the past.”

Wendy Suttar of Cove in Bloom agrees.

“We had heard about Albertino’s previous work and although when we started speaking to him we hadn’t got a rigid idea of what we wanted; we knew however that he was the artist we wanted and we immediately started the ongoing process of fundraising the £20,000 needed to finance the project.”

As the work progressed, the conversations with spectators gave Albertino a breadth of knowledge which he has embodied in the various elements of the sculpture.

The creel, the net, the wild sea and the harvest of the sea are vividly portrayed along with, of course, the spirit of Isie herself.

Isie Caie died in May 1966 age 86.

Her grand-daughter, Chirsty MacSween records that “she sold at the Green to the end” and that she “had a reputation for always having a smile on her face, a happy woman.”

The Cove sculpture remains a work- in-progress and there is still time to make a hands-on contribution to the final form of ‘The Spirit of the Fishwife.”

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Jan 112013

By Andrew Watson.

I should probably preface this restaurant review by saying I’m not exactly the most sophisticated of people when it comes to eating palates; and can cook little beyond browning mince, using the microwave and also my beloved Foreman Grill.

However, having been described as a ‘steakosaurus’ by a good friend of mine, I can smell good food a mile off.

Tropeiro is a Brazilian carvery, and I know little about Brazilian food.  Being a buffet of sorts, £9.95 per head is excellent value for money.

Don’t get me wrong, despite my relative lack of sophistication I’m willing to empty my bank account upon high class restaurants; perhaps being under the misguided impression that the more I spend on a steak the better it will be.

My pal and I dropped in on The Olive Tree Queens Road way once, and sampled excellent fillet steak and posh chips akin to what Simpson’s offer a quick bus journey away.

Looking at the website, there’s an excellent and truly fascinating introduction to this hidden culinary gem of sorts, across from the Music Hall on South Silver Street.  The following perhaps explains the emphasis on flame grilled meat:

The Tropeiros were the first Brazilian cowboys.                                                                                                                                      

“They lived a semi-nomadic life and their adventures produced very brave men that left deep historic tradition in the South of Brazil.

“The name of our restaurant is homage to these men that were brave enough to go to far away lands, bringing the cattle that would feed the miners. In a way we feel the same, as we have come far away from our home in Brazil to bring the Brazilian churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) to you.”

Me and my partner in crime (in demolishing the contents of local steakhouses – we successfully shared the now defunct 64oz ‘challenge’ at Union Square’s Spur Steak & Grill)  were suitably impressed with this place.

Maybe not necessarily with the Brazilian accents as we were greeted at the door, probably locally sourced Italians to trick those not deft of the ear… but the food!

When sat at the table, we decided to peruse the salad bar in anticipation for whatever mouth-watering meat would come our way later on.

They have cards on the table that operate like traffic lights: green for “more!” and red for “stop, I’m dying”!

No joke, though:  why no amber?  You know, for “I couldn’t possibly fit any more on my plate, but please come back when I can”?

Anyway, I approached with trepidation, ventures of the herbivore not really being my thing, and plumped for the rice.  It was rice, wasn’t it?

*Pictures ‘foodie’ heads in hands when telling them it was actually couscous*

Despite my error of judgement, and this will be my only criticism of Tropeiro, my friend reassured me that the couscous shouldn’t have been that dry.  A relatively resourceful man, I resolved to coat my deliciously greasy chicken skin with the stuff instead.  Problem solved.

Furthermore, being a place of relatively salubrious intent I felt I couldn’t do a KFC and ravage meat from bone, à la tyrannosaurus with allosaur hands.  Steakosaurus.  Thankfully, the chicken came off the bone with relative ease and I maintained my dignity with knife and fork still in hand.  Cooked to perfection!

The sausages were of, I suppose, frankfurter texture, and went down a treat.  The single pork ribs were fine, with knife and fork no match for stubborn meat attached to equally stubborn bone.

Trapped with cutlery glued to my hands by etiquette, situations like this are prone to leaving me angry and frustrated.  In public that’s quite embarrassing.  I’m impossible to live with.

All was not lost, though.  The big guns – the beef! – was out.  Pierced by a Saint George sword-esque skewer, the scalp of the dragon, even barely within peripheral vision, was intoxicating.

Picture, in layman terms, a quality beef, rare and bleeding yet thoroughly cooked, rotating in a kebab shop, but cruelly placed well over the counter.  Free samples are out of the question.  You can’t pinch a piece without the proprietor seeing.  Damn!

But, snap back to reality (or is it paradise?), as the knight in mucky apron closes in on you with prize vanquished and now vulnerable to taste buds.  Close enough to touch; you salivate like a rabid dog/dinosaur/whatever the hell you turn into when the duty of primordial man calls… it was good!

Seriously, I’ve sunk life savings into places like Prime Cuts on Crown Terrace.  I actually regretted it.

Not only did I get a piece of T-bone steak lathered in something approaching sea salt; it dried my mouth, my wallet…waitress even had the audacity to assume my fiver-plus change was a tip and locked it in a box!

The salt content on this beef, though, was perfect.

The seasoning gave me, ahem, a zest for life!  Fantastic.

No joke, I could’ve cried when my pal, let’s call him ‘Big Poppa Pump’ (BPP), was offered the rest after I’d politely accepted a couple of mere scrapings in comparison.

The next massive beef skewer that came-a-calling was devoured by some greedy buggers at the table behind us.  A table of about eight, maybe a ten guys.  I was ready to fight.

‘Big Poppa Pump’ noticed my nervous glances and twitching.  Allotted two hours nearly up.  We were asked, as warriors, if we wished to persevere in this quest of primordial man.  Affirmative.

The chicken came next.  Again.  Not interested.  Cue confusion from swordsman, who consults waitresses then shrugs his shoulders.  Through the door and to the chef, he returned triumphant with beef.

I even got BBP’s leftover beef, his state of replenishment fit for a king; and frankly my manners don’t extend to avoiding eye contact with other people’s plates when they’re satiated.

Oh go on, then!

This made my day, and I skipped breakfast on purpose in preparation for our date with destiny at 13:30.  That was for ‘Lunch’ Brazil-style.  I want to sample how Tropiero do ‘Dinner’ next!