Friday, 21 June 2013

A Feast of Forgotten Foods: How London Embraces New Flavours with Long Lost Local Produce

The forgotten foods of the UK’s produce industry, as eaten by Nina Koo-Seen-Lin.

A dinner party using leftovers in association with Slow Food? Yes, I felt a bit queasy when I read that on the press release too and developed a phantom faint taste of mouldy cheese lingering at the back of my tongue. However, reading the whole invitation to The New Flavours with Forgotten Foods Menu for Slow Food Week, and discovering this dinner party would be held at The Dock Kitchen, I knew this was an event worth attending.

My hosts were Catherine Gazzoli, CEO of Slow Food UK, and her two gorgeous colleagues, Katharina and Nathalie, two ladies from Germany with a love for British produce. They explained the ethos of Slow Food UK and I discovered by ‘leftovers’ they meant ‘long lost’ food made by small, local, artisan producers.

Slow Food is the leading organisation committed to spreading the good, clean and fair food message. Their aim: to promote local food heritage and discourage people from consuming fast food. Catherine informs me that people in the UK have lost the connection with keeping things local. As a nation, Britain is out of touch with the food, the land, and the people who produce it.

Slow Food Week, held from 1st-9th June, was devoted to good, fresh and guilt-free eating. Leading chefs and members of the Slow Food Chef Alliance - including Richard Corrigan, Giorgio Locatelli and Angela Hartnett - showed their support for the movement with menus fit for a sustainable conscious king.

The New Flavours with Forgotten Foods Menu for Slow Food Week was created by Stevie Parle and Anna Hansen. The Forgotten Foods programme collected small-scale quality produce from around the UK and Anna Hansen created a menu that helped diners rediscover long lost ingredients.

The evening’s menu showcased no less than 10 Forgotten Foods, including Jersey black butter from La Mare Wine Estate, Morecambe Bay shrimps from Furness Fish and Game, and English Lop pork presented three ways on the plate (braised, stuffed and crackled).

The memory of each and every ingredient used in the dishes will remain on my taste palate forever. The beremeal flatbread starter with raw milk salted butter yoghurt; the Eikorn oatcakes with Jersey Black Butter; saffron cake with cider brandy ice cream; all were delectable.

I doubt I will eat a meal so full of flavour; until the next Slow Food Week in 2014, that is. What could possibly top the Lop and Jersey Black Butter, I don’t know. But I’m willing to wait a year to find out.

The Menu

Nyetimber with fresh watermelon

Beremeal flatbreads, raw milk salted yoghurt, borage flowers and sumac

Elderflowers, borage and sage, deep fried with argan oil and amalfi lemon

Raw chopped Devon red ruby beef fillet, sour cherries and pickled Jersey Royals

Morecambe Bay shrimp, raw spring vegetables, hazelnuts, hazelnut and anchovy salad

English Lop pork shoulder braised in Three Counties Perry and loin stuffed with bay and juniper and crispy skin with beetroot pilaf, fattoush salad and seasoned yoghurt

Caerphilly and Appleby’s Cheshire with Einkorn oatcakes and Jersey Black Butter

Saffron cake, summer fruit and Julian Temperley Somerset Cider Brandy ice cream

Slow Food UK would like to thank the following suppliers for supporting the evening’s dinner

Doves Farm for Einkorn flour and beremeal

La Mare Wine Estate for Jersey Black Butter

Furness Fish and Game for Morecambe Bay Shrimps

Oliver Cider and Perry for the Three Countries Perry

Somerset Cider Brandy Company for the Cider Brandy