Secret Kitchen menu, 30th April 2011
Cured meats from France, Switzerland, Italy & Slovenia
Lamb and squid from the grill with Jersey Royals fried in pestat,
wild garlic salsa verde, wild garlic mayonnaise and garden leaves
Rhubarb & rose Eton Mess with hazelnuts
Stracchino with chestnut honey, apricot jam and apple mostarda
About tonight’s menu
Many of tonight’s ingredients were bought (or foraged) on our recent road trip to Slovenia. It’s hard to drive fast through France, Switzerland and Italy when there are so many cheeses, salumi and wines to try. So we took our time and filled the fridges (we had to buy a second on the way home) with treats from the foothills of the Alps.
Our home in Slovenia was friends’ Ben and Steffan’s new guesthouse – a beautifully renovated old stone farmhouse on a secluded hillside called Klavže 28. The woods around were carpeted with wild garlic, so we turned bagfuls into wild garlic pesto and wild garlic butter. There’s a strong local tradition for curing pork, and the pršut is excellent – slightly saltier and more like Spanish jamon than its Italian cousin.
Of course, the Italian versions next door aren’t bad either. Special mention must be made of the pestat, a salami made from fresh pig fat mixed with minced herbs and vegetables. It is hardly made anymore. This one is from our friends at Casale Cjanor, a goose farm and agriturismo in Friuli, and is protected by Slow Food. It even has its own Facebook page…
The walnuts and hazelnuts are from Ljubljana market, the Gorgonzola and Stracchino from Bergamo in Italy. In both countries people sensibly eat fresh young cheese with honey or apricot jam. Tonight’s jam was made by a kind Slovenian winemaker who gave us lunch when his restaurant was shut. It had recently won a prize in a national apricot jam competition. And it would be a crime not to include mostarda – the fruity Italian preserve made with fiery mustard essential oil (so strong it’s illegal in the UK).