Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tetbury Food Festival

We’ve had a very busy time lately. I hope to be able to share news with you soon.
This time, it was Tetbury Food Festival. Tetbury is a great food festival. A real celebration of local produce.

Tetbury is a lovely Cotswold town based in the south Cotswolds. With strong links with its royal neighbours, it is well worth a visit. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s country retreat, Highgrove, can be found on the outskirts of town, and they participate in a number of local events in the town. Apparently Camilla is a member of the local Women’s Institute, and strolling around the church, you will see a tree which she planted recently to commemorate the William and Kate’s wedding earlier this year.
In preparation for my cookery demonstrations, I made it my mission to suss out the best local freefrom produce I could lay my hands on. And there were rich pickings.

I really strongly believe in trying to shop locally where possible, especially as I run a small food company myself, so I know what a difference it makes to small businesses. However, I am realistic and appreciate that most of us can’t get by without popping to the supermarket from time to time, especially if you live in an urban area.
So, with a wealth of local suppliers on the doorstep, I decided to pop down to the local butchers in Tetbury, Jesse Smith & Co. based on Long Street, one of the main streets running through this ancient market town. The delightful manager, John, showed me some beautiful, local venison he had in, farmed near Cirencester by a gentleman named Arthur Whitchell. I picked up a loin of venison there, very lean and tender meat, and it’s actually great value meat. Much cheaper than beef fillet. I decided to make a seasonal dish of venison with blackberries, thyme and port. In keeping with the local theme, I hopped on my bike and headed down the lanes nearby to pick some fresh blackberries. I managed to collect an excellent haul. Wild blackberries are so much more delicious than bought. They have a wonderfully intense flavour, and even better, are totally free! You will find my recipes below, by the way.
Turning to dessert, I decided to use my local buckwheat flour which I had picked up at Shipton Mill near Tetbury. Many people following a gluten free diet find they get on with buckwheat flour, so it may be worth a go. And it is beautiful locally milled flour. I made a lovely quick dessert of buckwheat pancakes, with a blackberry compote. Really local and really delicious – it went down a treat with the audience!

One of the best things about the food festival was discovering so many great food producers in the local area. I met Tom Herbert, who runs Hobbs House Bakery who have a shop in Tetbury amongst other branches in the area. Their bread is fabulous, made with traditional methods passed down through the generations of this family-run business. I highly recommend trying their superb bread – they deliver nationwide in boxes which come complete with a bread bag and a freezer bag. The rye sourdough is a favourite of ours. Tom, who has made several television programmes for the BBC was running his stall…

They sell fantastic quality, beautifully fresh vegetables, which are really reasonably priced, including outstanding vegetable boxes for just £5. Mine fed me every day for over two weeks (just me on my own, mind). Do take a look at their work if you can, and why not try and see if you have a local scheme doing something similar? I can’t resist including some photos of their produce.
Another great find at Tetbury was Aunt Addie’s farm project, a local farm project which grows and sells a wide range of excellent vegetables.

Venision loin with blackberries, thyme and port
Serves 2 (approximately)
This recipe does not rely on exact quantities, below is just a rough guideline
2 Venison steaks or 4 slices of venison loin
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
1 large handful of blackberries
1/2 a wine glass (medium) port
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
A knob of butter
2 tablespoons Olive oil (appx)
Ensure you have a plate warming before you begin
1) Place the olive oil in the pan and start to heat it
  1. Add the venison steaks or loin. Fry in olive oil (you can adjust how much you use to taste) for roughly 4-5 minutes on each side.
  2. Remove the steaks from the oven and place on the warmed plate. Cover with foil to keep warm
  3. Add the port, blackberries and redcurrant jelly to the pan you have used to cook the venison and bring to the boil. Make sure the redcurrant jelly is well incorporated.
  4. As the sauce starts to thicken, add a knob of butter, the thyme leaves and stir
  5. Serve the venison loin or steaks with sauce poured over them. I like this dish served with garlic sautéed potatoes.

Shipton Mill Buckwheat pancakes with blackberry compote
Makes18-20 pancakes
Ingredients for the pancakes:
500 ml whole milk or soya milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
80 g melted butter
70 g Buckwheat flour
105g plain flour or gluten free plain flour
3 large eggs
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Heat a large frying pan on the hob.
  3. Drop a tiny piece of butter or sunflower oil in the hot pan and wipe it around with a paper towel.
  4. Pour enough of the batter in the middle of the hot pan, swirling the pan to distribute the batter quickly and evenly. The batter should start cooking within a few seconds, giving you just enough time to swirl it.
  5. After about a minute, flip the pancake over.
  6. Let the pancake cook on the flip side for about 30 seconds, then slide it out onto a dinner plate. Repeat.

Ingredients for the blackberry compote:
200g blackberries

4 tablespoons caster sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
For the compote, simply combine the blackberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan.
Heat slowly for around 20 minutes until the fruit has softened and the liquid is thick and syrupy. Sweeten further to taste, if required.

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