Slow Food London set a challenge: could regular Londoners go slow for an entire year? Would it be easy? Would it be hard? Would there be times when it would (slowly) start to go wrong?
Here, Susan Paul talks us through her twenty-seventh week:
There have been lots of lovely things this week.
We have made good use of the blackberry vinegar made in the Summer and the plum chutney made in week 12. I thought I had ruined the chutney by adding too much star anise and was ready to throw it away in defeat, but fortunately Shane Holland, our Slow Food Chairman, advised me to wait for a while and let it mature. So, I tasted it again recently and it is delicious; so thank you for the good advice Shane.
I used both these things to brighten a very easy and slow supper with friends. We started with a substantial dish of Brancaster mussels. These were simply steamed in a pan with the lid on until the mussels started to open. Chopped parsley and crushed garlic were added and when the mussels are fully opened they can be eaten with the resultant liquid, which is produced by this method of cooking. We followed with a plate of British cured meats from Canon and Canon which we ate with some good bread and butter, sliced red onions soaked in the Blackberry vinegar; and some young spinach leaves (I tried to buy watercress but it was past it’s best) with our usual dressing of 3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil, 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of English mustard and, for a slight change, a teaspoon of chestnut honey - this subtle change made a good impression on the leaves and I will use it again. We then added some cheese: Lincolnshire Poacher and a new one for this week, Smoked Applewood from Somerset, which we ate with more good bread and the plum chutney.
I have been trying some British made beers and I have been really surprised at how good they are – they go particularly well with the kind of food described above. I like to have mine in a heavy wine glass bought from the secondhand shop.
We are putting together some small boxes of “Slow” Christmas gifts for our children, which so far include: some of the lemon vodka made a few weeks ago; home made chocolate Florentines (only a small amount of good quality chocolate involved here as recommended in the recent Slow Food news letter); some home made onion and raisin chutney and a vegetable brush to scrub the dirt from all those local seasonal vegetables I hope they are going to be eating in the New Year.
Other good things have been: dumplings, made with breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese in parsley broth; a simple and easy to make soup of cannellini beans, left over cured sausage and parsley; a slow-cooked beef casserole with a horseradish dressing; a mincemeat and almond cake; a potato omelette with melted Norfolk White Lady Cheese; and a slow roast shoulder of lamb for a supper with three boys.