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 forty-third week:
I have come to depend on the Saturday Farmers Market in Barnes for our fruit and vegetables. As I am sure I have mentioned before, these things in particular are outstandingly good and fresh and really do last well for a week or more. This week we had our family coming for lunch on Saturday but we planned and prepared some of the meal in advance in order not to miss what is now a much enjoyed routine at the market.
Some welcome new things have appeared on the vegetable stall: spring onions, young carrots, young leeks, small cucumbers, curly parsley and pointed cabbage to supplement the purple sprouting broccoli, delicious potatoes (I am afraid I forgot to ask the variety again) and turnips amongst many other things. We also tried a delicious new variety of apple - Kidd’s Orange and some Concorde Pears. So, my fear that there was going to be a ”lean time” for vegetables have been overtaken by the hope and eager anticipation of all the new things to come in Spring.
The family lunch was a bit of a feast. We started with a salad of land cress, marinated leeks, crisp bacon, fried mushrooms, finely sliced radishes, spring onions, peas (just a few cooked from frozen) and some small discs of crisp, fried bread with a dressing of rapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, English mustard and honey. This was followed by Lasagne (prepared from scratch by my husband a day earlier), which he layered with a carefully seasoned Béchamel sauce and fresh crabmeat – it was stunning and very much enjoyed by all. We followed this with three British Cheeses – Lincolnshire Poacher Double Barrel, Colston Basset Stilton and our new one for this week – Oxford Isis, a soft cow’s milk cheese washed in honey mead which gives a slightly sweet taste. We ate the cheese with lovely fresh breads and some figs soaked in dessert wine. It was a delicious and simple meal and, apart from the making of the pasta which my husband enjoyed doing, was easy to prepare.
The family lunch was the second time I ate crab this week. The first was at Riva restaurant in Barnes when I had crab stuffed ravioli, which was both delicate and delicious. Others at our table had suckling pig, lamb chops with mint and mustard sauce and Stutzichini – a delicious selection of Anti Pasti.
Other good things this week: some Yorkshire salami; a casserole of duck with flageolet beans; more slow roasted beef short ribs; the special chicken stock made several weeks ago and stored in the freezer with added parsley and dumplings made with breadcrumbs and leftover Lincolnshire Poacher cheese; turnips added to our usual salad of carrot, swede, parsley, onions and parsnip; more lovely British beers – there are so many good ones – I would love to become an expert in matching them with food.
I mentioned last week my interest in the “local and seasonal” motorway services on the M5 in Gloucester and so was pleased to learn this week that the government has an initiative to improve our motorway services – I hope they use Gloucester as a model example.
I have already started thinking about food for the coming Easter weekend – four days off and we have family visiting again so I am really looking forward to it.