Brand new course for 2011: Artisan bread in a day

Being an enthusiastic amateur baker, I adamantly refuse to buy bread as I know I can make it better than I can buy it anywhere in Suffolk . . . .until now!

Since I set up Food Safari I’ve been keen to run a bread course but I was unable to find a baker who I felt had what it takes to be a Food Safari Partner. Until I met, through Twitter initially, Chris Brennan an artisan baker based in Orford, near Woodbridge.

Chris’s route into baking is untraditional! Born and raised in the Caribbean, after a long career with IBM around the world, he retired from and moved to Orford. In 2003 he became fascinated by baking and started producing small batches with the aim of perfecting his sourdough.  He’s learnt from master bakers around the world including the incredible San Francisco Baking Institute, which I’d personally love the chance to go to!

Chris’s excitement about baking real bread exclusively from simple, natural ingredients led him to start selling bread at Orford’s weekly Country Market where he has been selling bread, baguettes, and pastries for over a year. Overwhelmed by how well the bread and pastries were received by villagers and visitors alike, Chris decided to open a bakery.

And after months of careful restoration to the building, and researching the best ingredients and equipment, The Pump Street Bakery in Orford opened its doors to the public last Saturday (November 20, 2010)  in a landmark building in Orford’s pretty Market Place.  Chris’s daughter, Joanna, who had been looking for an opportunity to work with food, has joined the family business and is running the shop and cafe.

The bakery itself is just on the edge of the village of Orford in a stunning conversion of an old dairy building,  overlooking the River Ore, Orfordness and the RSPB’s Havergate Island. No expense has been spared in kitting it out with state-of the art ovens, chillers, pastry rollers and mixers.

It’s here that that the new Food Safari course, Artisan Bread in a day will take place. Chris will share his enthusiasm for baking real bread from natural ingredients and show you how he creates different styles of breads, from baguettes to walnut & cherry, using a natural sourdough. You will learn to shape, prove and bake a sourdough; and see the tools and techniques used by artisan bakers and find out how to adapt them for home.

We’ll enjoy a delicious seasonal lunch in Pump Street Bakery’s stylish cafe in Orford village. At the end of the day you will take home some of the breads and pastries you have made as well as some recipes and tips for home-baking.  For full details of the course visit the Food Safari web site.

Orford has always been a food lover’s destination – now there is another reason to go! For more information about the Pump Street Bakery please visit their web site http://www.pumpstreetbakery.com/

 

Sorry for the lack of photos for this post! Will correct that shortly!!!

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Truth behind the label: Free Range versus outdoor bred and reared

Yesterday’s news about the Waitrose multimillion pound ad campaign with Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith’s, highlights the widespread confusion about the labeling of pork.   You can read the story here: The Independent.

Blythburgh Free Range Pigs

On our Food Safari visits to Blythburgh Pork I am always fascinated to see how many, educated and foodie people are confused by the difference between organic, free range, outdoor reared and outdoor bred. The RSPCA and the pork industry are working to standardise these terms and encourage the supermarkets to adopt them – Pork Provenance. In this case, the Advertising Standards Authority felt that because consumers didn’t understand the terms, they would uphold the complaints about the campaign.

At Blythburgh, Alastair Butler, takes the time to explain the terms clearly.  Blythburgh is one of only independent four commercial free-range pork farms in the country. The pigs are outdoors from birth until the end. Organic pigs are reared to the same standard but must be on land that has not been sprayed or fertilized for at least three years. All their food must also be organic. Alastair explains that the additional issues around the cost of the feed, versus the taste benefit, means that the commercial organic pork industry is practically non-existent.

Outdoor-bred, the term used by Waitrose means that the sows are kept outdoors and the piglets spend their first four weeks outdoors until they are weaned and taken indoors to be fattened.

Outdoor-reared is a loser term and means that the pigs are outdoors for APPROXIMATELY half their lives.

A visit to Blythburgh gives you the chance to see for yourself how happy the pigs are, and how they are able to behave naturally, playing, foraging or just snuggling together in their huts. After tasting the meat you also understand how their breeding produces better tasting meat – so good in fact that it is used by Mr Blumenthal himself at the Fat Duck!

So you see, there is a delicious irony in him fronting an ad saying outdoor bred pork produces better tasting meat, when in fact for his restaurant he choses the best Blythburgh Free Range Pork!

For a more light-hearted insight into our trips to Blythburgh Pork and butchery workshops I recommend Adrian Melrose’s blog:
Review of Free Range Pig in a Day

For more information about Blythburgh Pork visit: www.freerangepork.co.uk

Food Safari’s next Free Range Pig in a Day takes place on Saturday 7 May, 2011.  Limited to 12 people so book early.  Food Safari

Posted in alastair butler, Broxtead Butchery, Butchery, butchery demonstration, farm walk, food heroes, food producers, food safari, Free range, future pig farming, Jimmy Butler, meat, organic, outdoor pigs, pig in a day, pigs, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The best year for mushrooms in a decade?

2010 is turning out to be one of the best years for mushrooms in a decade. The unusually wet August and September combined with a few warm sunny days meant that the season got off to an early start and we were foraging the Suffolk fields for field mushrooms, puff balls and boletes as early as mid-August.

October has remained mild (until today at least!) and last weekend we had an excellent day foraging at Henham Park, near Southwold. Henham is perhaps best known now as the home of the Latitude Festival. In July over 30,000 people fill the the beautiful park designed by Repton in the late eighteenth century.

Our visit was a little quieter and apart from rabbits and sheep we have the whole park to ourselves. After a coffee and introduction to the basic dos and don’ts of foraging from our wild food expert, Jacky Sutton Adam, we set off on our foray.

We’d barely gone a few paces before we found some ink caps and parasols at different stages of their development. A few steps further and growing on one of Henham’s ancient oak trees we found some rare beef-steak fungus.  The brackets growing at eye level were passed it, but my husband Tim, always one for climbing trees, climbed about 20 feet up to harvest a fresh one.

One of the most interesting parts of the foray for me was when we came across a cluster of mushrooms that, to the untrained eye, looked for all the world like field mushrooms. Jacky, quickly stopped us picking them before we were certain they were not the famous yellow stainer – the most common cause of mushroom poisoning because it is so easily mistaken for field mushrooms.

We scratched the surface of the mushroom and it did slowly turn a yellow colour so we dismissed it.  Then someone in the group identified the strong aniseed smell – smell being one of the most important factors – we looked closer. Jacky rigorously inspected the mushroom and compared it to descriptions and images in a couple of manuals before finally declaring it was not a yellow stainer, but in fact, a horse mushroom.  This was a great lesson in how to carefully inspect every aspect of the mushroom before picking, the smell, the root, the gills, the rings.

By the end of the foray we had basketfuls of horse mushrooms, as well as some earth puff balls, parasols, blewitts and chanterelles and of course, the spectacular beefsteak which was enough to feed a family!

Back at The Anchor in Walberswick, we sat in the sunshine with a beer and tucked into the beefsteak cooked in lots of butter and garlic and the parasol mushrooms fried in tempura. Then we had pappadelle with wild rabbit and wild mushrooms followed by a delicious pudding plate and coffee.

Everyone took a few mushrooms they’d gathered home with them as well as a pack of recipe ideas and a very useful field guide.

The next Food Safari Mushrooms in a Day is on Saturday 23 October, also at Henham Park. For full details visit: http://www.foodsafari.co.uk/page/mushrooms-in-a-day

Posted in anchor, food adventures, food events, foodie events, forage, foray, fungi, mushrooms, The Anchor, The Stables at Henham, Uncategorized, wild, wild food, wild foodie | 2 Comments

Lamb butchery workshop with Gerard King

Broxtead Butchery at The Suffolk Food HallOn Friday evening we held the first in a series of new evening butchery classes with Gerard King, the much loved butcher at the Suffolk Food Hall near Ipswich.

Gerard took us through the cool room where all the meat is stored and we saw the deep red and marbled carcass of local Red Poll Beef.

The group of ten worked in teams to break down three lamb carcasses. The lamb was pure-bred Suffolk sheep raised at nearby Hadleigh.

Gerard identified all the different cuts and talked about how to cook them . We also touched on the less edible bits like the paddywack – yes, as in ‘knick knack paddywack give the dog a bone’. The paddywack is, in fact, the large gristle that runs down the back. We also learned some basic butchery knife skills.

 

Everyone had a go at preparing their own lamb chops.

 

 

 

At the end of the evening everyone got to stuff and roll a shoulder of lamb and learn the art of the butchers’ knot – not as easy as Gerard made it look!

 

 

 

Then we relaxed over a glass of wine and some succulent slow roast leg of lamb with flat breads and delicious local organic salad leaves.  It was the perfect way to wrap up the evening and chat about what we’d learned.

 

The Lamb Butchery Class is the first in a series of evening butchery classes at the Suffolk Food Hall. On Friday November 12th we will tackle birds of various shapes and sizes including chicken, guinea fowl and poussin.  You will learn how to bone, stuff and roll the meat. We’ll also practice our knife skills and learn how to carve properly. Once again the evening will be wrapped up with a relaxed supper and a glass of wine or beer. You’ll take home some of the meat you have prepared to show off to friends and family!  For full details visit Food Safari’s web site.

Posted in Broxtead Butchery, Butchery, butchery demonstration, charcuterie, demonstration, farmshop, food events, Free range, hands-on butchery, hands-on butchery workshop, ipswich farmshop, Orwell bridge, Uncategorized, workshop | Leave a comment

Welcome to WordPress

Due to total exasperation at Blogger I’ve just done what I should have done months ago . . . . .moved to WordPress. Relieved that I can import the old content! Expect to see more regular updates from now on!

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At sea with Catch and Cook

As morning dawned on 10 April Tim headed off to Walberswick for Food Safari’s first Catch and Cook day. Here’s his report:
“I’d been pretty excited about a day’s fishing with skipper Mark Felton who keeps Panther, his 30′ angling boat at Walberswick, for nearly a year when we’d met at a party and cooked up the idea of a catch and cook date off the Suffolk coast. On the most glorious April morning I drove up to Walberswick knowing that we had near perfect conditions for a bit of sea fishing.
Suffolk has a rich fishing tradition and Lowestoft was a once-great fishing port but sadly the glory days of the fishing industry are long past. However, for those who are interested in getting their hands on the freshest imaginable fish need look no further than a few miles off the Suffolk coast where, in 70 feet of water, we caught some whopping big cod. Mark runs a successful charter business and is booked solid a year in advance but the idea of combining fishing with some on board sashimi preparation and eating appealed to us both. Then we got talking to our friends Madalene and Ross of the British Larder the idea was complete, a kind of: catch, eat, cook (back on dry land) and eat some more.

Nine of us set off out of Walberswick harbour three miles off
shore hoping for a good catch. It was a mixed ability group with several (including me) who had either fished just once or twice, or not at all. While it’s important to remember that the sea is not a theme-park and even the most experienced fisherman can come away from a day’s fishing empty handed, we had good luck landing cod ranging from 7 to 9lbs.
It’s hard to imagine a better breakfast than the freshest sashimi with the Suffolk coast as a backdrop. Armed simply with a sharp knife and some pre-prepared sauces in jars (a wasabi vinaigrette and a ginger and soy dipping sauce) Ross rustled up one of the most delicious fish dishes I’ve eaten.
After a quiet spell with nothing biting and just five minutes before turning back into harbour one of our party got a tell-tale twitch on his line and after a few minutes landed an absolute beauty.
Back on dry land we had a great team lunch at the Anchor in Walberswick (featuring a Mexican influenced Huss with black beans and coriander) followed by a cookery demonstration from Madalene which featured both cod and herring. Maddy used some bold flavourings inspired by southern indian cuisine which matched the sweet, succulent fish without masking its flavour. Next time you’re having a dinner party or want to give your family a twist on plain grilled or roasted fish check out Madalene’s recipe for Keralan cod which she cooked ‘en papilotte’ or in a paper bag with an incredibly quick and delicious marinade. Just 8 minutes at 180c and you have a great dish for sharing.
A good learning point of the day was that cod does need at least 48 hours in the fridge from being caught to ‘set’ sufficiently in order to develop those firm flakes we all love. Cooked too fresh and it will collapse – although if you did find yourself in possession of a fish caught that day and if you have both a sharp knife and a love of raw fish I can’t recommend Ross’s sashmi highly enough.”
Places are available on the next Catch and Cook day on 31 July,
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Beer Safari report

Check out this excellent report on our recent Beer Safari a beer-in-a-day Suffolk tour written by Sarah Groves, marketing manager at Adnams.

Sarah joined us for this inaugural journey into beer featuring a morning of tutored learning and malt tasting at the Anchor in Walberswick, a lunch that matched beer with food, a trip to a malting barley farm and real ale specialist shop before heading over to Southwold for a private tour of Adnams’ state-of-the-art brewhouse in the gifted hands of head brewer Fergus Fitzgerald and tasting of 14 (yes fourteen) different Adnams’ beers from the zingy, grapefruity Explorer to the rich winter warmer Tally Ho, bottled for the first time in many years this winter.
The next Beer Safari will be talking place on 30 July.
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An embarrassment of game

Game is a special treat of the autumn and winter and on the Suffolk coast we are lucky to have an abundance of wild game. Birds of the air and beasts of the field are abundant here, with plentiful grain and hedgerows for food and shelter on farmland; we also get migratory birds such as wild duck on the marshes in autumn and more unusually woodcock in mid-winter and the long-billed snipe, from which we get the word ‘sniper’ because it’s difficult to shoot.

Pheasants and partridges are usually farmed in pens before being released, but about 20-30 per cent are entirely wild here — more than in other parts of the country. The most widely available game in Suffolk is venison. Deer populations, especially Muntjac, are steadily increasing and when driving around the Suffolk lanes it’s not uncommon now to see a muntjac creeping out of the hedgerow.

Wild, as opposed to farmed, game is the gourmet’s choice – animals that have roamed freely are likely to be a little more robust in flavour and texture than their farmed counterparts, which will have had a more restricted range.

Whether you have the opportunity to shoot your own game, are given it by a friendly farmer or simply pick some up from one of the Suffolk Coast’s many independent butchers you may be left wondering how to prepare it, cook it or even what wine to drink with it.

Wild Meat in a Day is led by Robert Gooch, a Rick Stein ‘food hero’ who runs game dealer the Wild Meat Company (www.wildmeat.co.uk). Robert, who has worked in farming all his life and knows all the farms and estates from where they harvest the game. One of Robert’s butcher’s Ray Kent, who was the hugely popular Framlingham butcher for over 30 years, leads a small group through a game butchery workshop. Attendees are given a haunch of venison, a partridge or a rabbit and shown how to skin or bone it picking up many tips along the way for preparing game in your own kitchen.

Lunch, at The Anchor, Walberswick, encourages us to think about the different textures and flavours of deer species. Generally speaking, the smaller the deer, the more fine-grained and delicate the meat will be. Roe and muntjac are more gently flavoured animals while fallow deer have grainier, richer meat, and the big red deer give the most open-textured and gamey venison of all.

Gathered around a long table there’s a sense of a great celebratory feast, sharing together the fruits of the Suffolk countryside and complimented by a succession of interesting and often local beers.

For more information about Food Safari and the Wild Meat in a Day course visit www.foodsafari.co.uk or call 01728 621380

Dates for 2010
Wild Meat in a Day, The Anchor, Walberswick
Saturday 6 February
Sunday 28 March
Saturday 2 October 2,
Sunday 21 November 21

The Wild Meat Company supplies a wide range of freshly prepared game meat at farmers markets across the Suffolk Coast and via its web site www.wildmeat.co.uk

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Unseasonable thoughts of samphire


I’ve just been ask to write about what makes foraging for wild food in Suffolk special and thought I should share them. Memories of harvesting samphire from Suffolk’s tidal esturaries transported me to the height of summer when Samphire is at its best a stark contrast to this grey January!

Marsh samphire is a tidal plant of the salt marshes and mud flats. The many upspoilt creeks of the Suffolk coast at Blythburgh, Snape and Orford make Suffolk an excellent place to find it.

Not to be confused with Rock Samphire which as the name suggests grows on rocks and cliff faces. These are two totally unrelated plants which have the same name, derived from the French for St Peter – St Pierre after the fisherman saint. As a general rule marsh samphire has its feet firmly in the water and rock samphire always has its feet dry!

They also taste completely different. The former is very salty and is delicious steamed or raw. Rock samphire is very carrotty and has quite a medicinal undertone.

Marsh samphire is a delicious accompaniment to fish and seafood, being both salty and fleshy. It can be lightly steamed and served with butter. Each individual finger of marsh samphire has a central woody core and it should be held by the base and pulled through the teeth so you avoid eating the woody core. Young tips can be eaten as they are because the woody core tends to be only through the bottom half of each ‘finger’. It can be lightly batteered and deep fried to create a delicious snack, use it in salads or served simply with parmesan and olive oil.

Harvesting
Remember to follow the basic rules of foraging: seek permission from land owners before entering private land; keep away from roads, fields that may have been sprayed or busy footpaths popular with dog walkers. You shouldn’t collect plants from a protected area such as nature reserve or Site of Special Scientific Interest and always leave a few healthy plants untouched to continue their life cycle.

When picking samphire pinch out or snip off the tops of the plants, leaving the more fibrous stems in the ground; that way, not only will you have less washing and trimming to do, there’s also a fair chance that what you’ve left in the mud will continue to grow.

Foraging for wild food inspires you to look at sometimes everyday plants in a new light. Common weeds often have forgotten uses either culinary or herbal and it’s great to get out into the countryside to connect with the natural environment.

Best of all wild food is free and often delicious!

For more information about Food Safari‘s Wild Food in a Day on the Suffolk coast click here:

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Lobsters, Crabs, Eels and Oysters

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2009 marks the 50th anniversary of one of Suffolk’s (if not the country’s) great seafood establishments, Pinney’s of Orford. Recently Food Safari took a group of intrepid seafarers to find out more. Along they way we found dozens of lobsters, numerous crabs and a few lively eels.

We kicked off the day with a trip up the River Ore; with the 2nd World War military buildings of Orfordness on one side and impressive Henry II era castle on the other. Peter, our skipper and guide explained that he’d laid lobster pots and an eel net in various spots. Nothing was guaranteed but he hoped we’d have a good catch.

Moving from spot to spot, Peter pulled pots filled with numerous treasures, including various sizes of lobsters, common shore crabs, eels, whelks, sea urchins and jellyfish eggs. Peter showed us how to identify male and female lobsters (the swimmerets, the small feather appendages on the underside of the tail on male lobster (cock) are hard, whereas on a female (hen) lobster, they are soft and feathery). Peter reminded us that you are not allowed to fish for lobster unless you have a valid permit and you must return the lobsters to the sea that are below the legal 10cm size, that is measuring from the eye’s to where the tail is attached to the body. But we were lucky enough to find a few lobsters which were large enough to keep and a couple of lucky people were able to take one to prepare at home.

Positively the most lively find of the day were a few eels, whose writhing, snake-like bodies caused shrieks of horror from some of us on board, including me! Determined that we shouldn’t have the opportunity to prove how hard they are to kill, these eels would not be stopped, and frequently managed to wriggle their way out of the crate onto the floor of the boat and rather too close to our unsuspecting feet!

Back on dry land, and with the lobsters safely stowed in the fridge, we set off to Butley Creek, home of Pinney’s of Orford. At the tail end of the second world war, Richard Pinney, fed up with London life took to the Suffolk coast and began looking for ways to make a living. His first enterprise was cutting rushes from local dikes and rivers, drying and platting them into mats and carpets. He then turned his attention to the river and set about restoring the derelict oyster beds in Butley Creek. Despite being warned by local people that if he wanted to lose all his money, oysters were a good way to do it, he started laying down oysters from Portugal, which grew and fattened very well.

At the same time, being a keen fisherman, he began to look for new things to do with his catch, he began to experiment with smoking in a disused compartment at the end of his cottage. The results were so good that he decided to buy some salmon and the smoking business grew from there. He developed a unique system of burning whole oak logs – a system which has been refined but hardly changed to this day.
We were welcomed by Bill Pinney, founder Richard’s son, who went out to dredge for oysters before our eyes. While partner, Harvey Allen, told us the history of Pinney’s. Bill explained how his father discovered that Butley Creek’s combination of natural plankton’s, salinity and clean waters, was an excellent oyster fattening ground. The oysters grown now are bought in from the hatcheries at a very small size and laid on our beds for 2-3 years before being harvested.

While at Butley Creek, I spotted both samphire and sea purslane growing on the banks of the river, a bonus for everyone concerned who harvested some to take home.

The amazing smells coming from the smokehouse lured us over, and I asked Harvey if he ever tired of the delicious smell. His answer was, of course, “no”. In the smokehouse, we saw how the fish are first salted or brined, and then hung in the smokehouse where they are then flavoured and preserved by smoke that is produced by gently smouldering whole oak logs in a specially designed smokebox. Trout, mackerel, sprats, eels, cod roe etc are hung for a few hours before being hot smoked (cooked over the open fire) while salmon is cured over a period of about 48 hour.

By this time our tummies were beginning to rumble and we headed pack to the Pinney family’s restaurant, The Butley Orford Oysterage, in Orford’s pretty Market Hill. The restaurant and shop were opened in the 60s and as well as serving Butley Oysters, and smoked fish we also found other fish landed daily by the family’s boat. Suitably revived by a glass of Muscadet and one too many smoked prawns, we were treated to a demonstration of how to carve a whole smoked salmon and how to open oysters, before all have a go ourselves. The group was something of a team now and calls of encouragement and generous rounds of applause rewarded everyone’s efforts.

Finally we settled down to enjoy a delicious seafood platter of some of Pinney’s finest produce – oysters and smoked salmon of course, but also rollmops, angels on horseback, and scallops, all the more enjoyable for knowing exactly where they had come from.

For more information about joining Seafood in a Day visit: www.foodsafari.co.uk

The fantastic photographs in this blog are courtesy of Emma Kindred of eightOne.

Posted in Butley Orford Oysterage, fishing, lobsters, oysters, Pinney's of Orford, seafood, smokehouse, Suffolk, workshop | Leave a comment