Thursday, 29 November 2012

Better the devil you grow?

Hands up if you're a foodie?

Hands up if you (truly) like being called a foodie?

Hmmm, thought not. Doesn't it just comes with just a hint of 'pretentious' in these austere times?

There is, I think, a real tension between the new Good Lifers and the Foodies. It's not so much that we are one or the other. Fact is, we're both, and the tension is deep in our soul. Be honest now, we all want to be Tom and Barbara down at the food market, complementing the local grower, but one sight of the fancy stall next door and we can't keep our hands off Jerry's falafels.

And so last night I was wooed to be a guest at a supper club hosted by Unearthed, at Bristol's Devilled Egg kitchen academy. It wasn't hard to woo me. Here is a company who aim to source the next 'must have' but accessible ingredients for us to work our magic with. So saying to me "Hapless, I have the finest Iberico pork us Brits are yet to taste, and this little piggy has your name on it". I mean, how is a boy to say no to a pitch like that?

Lets cut to the chase, this was foodie heaven. The sexiest kitchen with the hottest gadgets, two talented chefs and a private supper club, passionate and knowledgable hosts who smuggled in treats from all over the world for a handful of food writers (and me) to not just sample but gorge on, a goodie bag and best best best of all - a mini cool bag for my posh picnics for one (otherwise know as lunch) - it's always the small treats! 

The last time I was invited to sample food I had a blindfold. This time I could see my food, and my tastebuds sparkled knowing they wouldn't be alone. I polished off each course and the chefs certainly worked their magic. The highlight was the Iberico pork, which I was told would be more like steak and would even served a bit pink. It was juicy and moreish as a result, and every bit as good as the hype. No need for crackling, it came wrapped in chorizo and pastry.

Other joys included Calabrian ‘Nduja, and spiced red cabbage with Kabanos with kicks left right and centre to accompany the succulent meat.

Nigella, reckon you can beat that? All you need to do is tweet...

But hang on! I'm a gardener. This is about as far removed from my onions as possible. There were enough unpronounceable ingredients here to give Al Murray-pub landlord material for a whole new tour.

I can see my winter onion weeping as I neglect her for the fancy food mistress. Something inside me shouts "stop, this is immoral, I should be giving all my time to own garden". But then my immoral side wonders, perhaps if I innocently bring my mistress to the kitchen my onion may, y'know, perk up? Or as always with onions, will it just end in tears? 

So Unearthed, I have a challenge for you:

Take no more than three of your hard-sourced delicacies, take your pick of traditional allotment fare and produce me two recipes that prove to me you really can have it all. I'm looking to see hearty British vegetables that I can grow, seducing the most unattainable of your wares.

Once done, I'll be asking my lovely friend Ruth of yummymummycookingschool fame to make them and try them out on her boys for a verdict. These boys know their stuff being seasoned foragers, cooks and bloggers so this isn't a task to take lightly...

Good luck. And as you mull that over, have some Kylie

1 comment:

susie said...

Hey Tom
We now have our ideas formulated for you.How about...

Savoy cabbage, smashed pototoes and panceta bake with stilton cheese sauce:
•Unearthed Spanish Panceta
•Savoy cabbage
•Smashed (skin-on) potates
•Layered and cooked with a stilton cheese sauce

Prosciutto-wrapped duck breast with olive tapenade and root veg mash:
•Unearthed prosciutto di san daniele
•Duck breast
•Unearthed mixed olives with rosemary and black pepper
•Pick any of your best root veg for the mash (carrot, swede, parnsip?)

Calabrian ‘nduja and jerusalem artichoke pizza:
•Unearthed Calabrian ‘Nduja
•Tomato passata
•Lemon zest
•Jerusalem artichokes
•Pizza dough

What do you think?

The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

My photo
I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.