Food from not far away
The parents of my fiancé, Henry, live in a lovely house in the English countryside. I’m not just showing off here there is a reason I mention this. We’ve stayed there a few times lately (in fact I am there as I type this) as we build up to the wedding. While here I’ve eaten some of the freshest food I’ve ever had. And yet we haven’t left the house once…
That’s a lie actually, we have left the house. We left the house, walked about 20 paces to the vegetable patch, selected some veg and then headed back to the house again.
As a city girl I’ve never really thought about vegetables or where they come from. Or any food really. But having popped some of these runner beans and various other assorted fat of the land delights in my mouth I suddenly became very interested indeed.
Delicious doesn’t cover it. The taste and the health benefits of eating something grown locally and on the day you pick it are extraordinary. If I could create a vegetable patch in my flat I would.
I’ve been hearing people talk about the farm to table concept for a while but it was this that broke the carrot’s back and now I’m obsessed.
It’s rather odd if you think about it. Travel back in time a couple of hundred years and the locals would think you were bonkers for getting excited about farm to table food. “Where else is the food going to come from?!” they would say… before walking away speedily.
But for some time now having the best has involved some delicious food racking up serious air miles en route from wherever it was to our plates. I’m pleased this attitude is changing.
Local food production has an impact not just on my mouth but also the people and communities who create the food. So instead of ordering the Russian caviar in London go to Russia and find the place it comes from. Then eat it. Is my plan. Although actually I don’t really like caviar so that’s a bad example.
A better example is to go to Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall for a cup of delicious Tregothnan tea. You won’t find a tea plantation anywhere else in the UK. Surprising considering it’s our number one beverage.
Then there’s Hotel El Convento in San Juan, Puerto Rico and its rooftop garden. The executive chef Luis Castillo has revitalised El Convento’s rooftop garden, allowing him to put fresh herbs and vegetables into the dishes. If you’re staying there and fancy some sage, basil, parsley, oregano, cumin, coriander, lemongrass, opal basil, tarragon, bay leaves, mint, thyme, radishes, chives or spring onions… they’re on the roof.
Bordeaux’s Les Sources de Caudalie has a kitchen garden outside its Grand’ Vigne restaurant created by its two Michelin-starred chef Nicolas Masse. The owners liked it so much they added an orchard and a hen house. And three pygmy goats to protect the hens. No I didn’t know pygmy goats did that either.
And last for today as I’m sure you have places to be… New York. Yes there are farms here. And a movement called Farm to Fifth Avenue. That sounds cool doesn’t it? The Quin has partnered with Kerbers farms so that guests can pick seasonal produce, make their own preserves and have a private picnic on the grounds of the Long Island farm. Delightful.
Right, I’m off to pick some mint for my tea. Now I am showing off.