August 2010 Archives


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esb.jpgExcerpt from Eat Slow Britain by Alastair Sawday and Anna Colquhoun:

“Our parents grew up in the war years and taught us not to waste a thing, which is how we’ve run Strattons since the start. High quality and care for the environment can go hand in hand without compromises,” says Vanessa Scott, owner of what is considered to be one of the country’s greenest hotels.

Indeed, this Palladian-style villa, built around a medieval malting house, exudes style: spectacular artwork; individually designed bedrooms; a candlelit cellar with an extravagant air in pink, black, cream and gold; Floss, the seal-point Siamese, slinking between cowhide-clad armchairs …

Chef Simon Linacre-Marshall applies his classical French training to ingredients for which the Brecks, the central area of Norfolk, is renowned: griddled asparagus with hollandaise, wild mushroom risotto with beetroot carpaccio and truffle, rabbit and partridge terrine with damson jelly, venison with sour cherry sauce, lavender ice cream with honey and blueberry cheesecake. He enjoys the challenge of keeping it local, seasonal and to a large extent organic, knowing that Vanessa and Les will not tolerate rogue ingredients …

Strattons Hotel & Restaurant, Norfolk, England

Stichelton Dairy

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Excerpt from Eat Slow Britain by Alastair Sawday and Anna Colquhoun:

stichelton1.jpgBritain was once teeming with cheesemakers: in the 1930s over sixteen-hundred farms were making it. By the early nineties that number had dwindled to one-hundred, due to post-war industrialisation of cheesemaking, supermarkets driving demand for mass-produced cheese and food safety concerns. The number is creeping up again, though, and Joe Schneider - “an American who started out making Greek cheese for a Turk in Holland” - is part of the renaissance.

Over a pint in a London pub in 2004 Randolph Hodgson of Neal’s Yard Dairy planted the idea in Joe’s mind of recreating raw milk Stilton, which had disappeared in 1989 due to unproven health scares …

The alchemy of turning mild white milk into such complexity of flavour, texture and colour has fascinated us for millennia. To create Stichelton, tiny amounts of rennet set the curds, as they would in a calf’s stomach, the starter weaves its bacterial magic, and penicillium roqueforti blooms into blue-green veins. Until the Stichelton is pierced, it is dry, crumbly and acidic; activated by air, the mould interacts with proteins and fats creating that buttery texture. Over three months a rind forms, and cheesemaker, then affineur, watches like a hawk and manipulates time, temperature and humidity. As one noted Edwardian Stilton-maker remarked, “stiltons … are more trouble than babies.”

Stichelton Dairy, Nottinghamshire, England

Combe House

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Excerpt from Eat Slow Britain by Alastair Sawday & Anna Colquhoun:

combehouse0036.JPGCombe House brims with the heart and soul that owners Ken and Ruth Hunt pour into it. They are proud of their renovation of this grand Elizabethan manor near Honiton in Devon but, most of all, they cherish the relationships they’ve built, with staff, guests, suppliers and the wider community.

“We used to work in large corporate hotels, where pressure to make profit for shareholders reduced all relationships to mean minimums,” says Ken. “Here, we’ve discovered a wonderful new world of generous relationships and real hospitality. We’re most proud of our extended family of thirty-eight staff, which intertwines the life of the hotel with that of the village.” …

combehouse0031.JPGTen acres of lawns, ancient cedars, paddocks, orchards and woodland are maintained with minimal use of pesticides and no artificial fertilisers. Compost, leaf mould and horse muck feed four walled Victorian kitchen gardens. There are flageolet and borlotti beans; globe and Jerusalem artichokes; cabbages for all seasons; year-round supplies of shallots and garlic; currants, strawberries and Worcesterberries; dozens of herbs …

Combe House, Devon, England

Growing Communities

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Excerpt from Eat Slow Britain by Alastair Sawday & Anna Colquhoun:

Hidden from the road behind townhouses and tucked into the corner of an East London park is a secret oasis where cheery volunteers tend a cornucopia of fruits, herbs, flowers and salad leaves, destined for a ground-breaking box scheme.

“We don’t just want to supply beautiful organic fruit and vegetables, we want to reclaim control of food production and trade from agribusiness and supermarkets. We want to put the power back where it should be - with farmers and communities,” says Julie Brown, the pioneering founder of Growing Communities, a social enterprise in northeast London …

Brightening each salad bag is a single edible flower - perhaps an orange marigold or violet pansy - the input of head grower Ru Litherland, self-confessed “vegetable nerd”. Adapting permaculture principles, Ru has created lush urban gardens by planting the useful and the beautiful: banks of flowers delight volunteers and visitors and useful insects; certain flowers cleverly fix nitrogen in the soil; mustard, salsola, purslane, red orache, escarole and sorrel leaves add an extra peppery note to the mixed salads …

Growing Communities, London, England

Andalucian pinchitos morunos

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These spicy kebabs are popular in Andalucia and originate from the era when the Moors occupied Spain.  It works superbly with pork, chicken or lamb.  Marinate the meat as far in advance as possible.  This recipe is adapted from one in the fantastic Moro restaurant cookbook.

Herb jam

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This is a Moroccan recipe, which I first learnt while working as an intern at Alice Waters’ restaurant, Chez Panisse, in California.  ‘Herb jam’ is Paula Wolfert’s name for this delicious, savoury salad-cum-relish.  The recipe here is based on one of hers.
smherbjammaking0003.JPGThe key to success is patience.  You must wash vast quantities of greens and herbs, steam the greens, pound together the herbs and garlic, fry the olives and spices and then cook everything down together slowly in a wide pan until it resembles jam.  It’s a bit of a hassle, so I advise making a double batch (buy way more greens than you think it’s possible to cook) and freezing some.

smherbjammaking0004.JPG But when you taste it, perhaps on crostini or with warm Moroccan bread, you’ll realise why this is such a special recipe.  If you love greens, olives and lemony flavours, you’ll adore this. Everyone I have cooked it for has found it a revelation.

smherbjammaking0009.JPGFor the greens, use a mix of whatever you can find - spinach, chard, rocket, kale, sorrel, watercress, mustard greens, celery leaves, purslane…


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In Tuscany some tell you never to season the meat with salt before cooking it as it makes the meat tough.  In my experience seasoning the meat in advance hugely improves flavour and does not make it all tough, as long as you don’t overcook it.  Rocket leaves are traditional, but I like a mix of rocket and watercress and whatever else is to hand.  And for a further British touch I serve creamed horseradish alongside. 


Vanilla panna cotta

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This recipe is based on one by David Tanis, one of the very talented chefs at Chez Panisse in California, where I worked for a while in 2007.  Panna cotta is really easy - you just need to remember to make it in advance so it has time to set in the fridge.  You could use any combination of milk and cream, even yoghurt.



Culinary Anthropologist