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 thirty-seventh week:
We have been away for most of this week in France and Italy where the weather was mild, sunny and absolutely lovely. During our trip it occurred to me that taking part in the “challenge” and seeking out the local and seasonal foods in other countries makes trips abroad more interesting.
We stayed for several days in Le Broc, a small village in the Alpes Maritimes in the south of France. The road from Nice airport is dominated by an industrial estate with enormous supermarkets with the usual rows of brands and types of foods (amongst many other things including skis!) – all a bit overwhelming for me. To my delight we found a small grocery shop in the centre of the village, which specialises in Italian produce – the Italian border being only 30 minutes away by road. So, very seasonal and very local with especially lovely fresh vegetables and even some honey produced in Le Broc.
We ate out a few times but there was nothing locally to compare to eating and drinking at the homes of our friends in the area. Here are some of the things we had: black olive tapenade; fish soup with rouille and croutons; radishes; oysters and champagne; all kinds of cured sausages and hams; onion and fennel pastries; leek tart; little dishes of local delicacies; lamb chops with herbs, cooked on the barbeque; red wines in the evening and rose wine in the sunshine and, on one occasion, a glass of the famous Tesseron cognac. And the cheeses – French cheeses in France are delicious of course and we tried lots although the very local goat and ewes cheeses are not available until March.
A trip to Ventimiglia, in Italy, was a highlight of our week. There are numerous food and wine shops lining the busy streets, which surround the food market. To have such a place close to home is a delightful dream indeed for me and I confess to feeling envious of the local people. The market is open from 7am until 1pm on weekdays and all day on Saturdays. There is a whole section of homegrown and artisan produce where I bought olive oil and herbs, ravioli with mushrooms, and Pecorino cheese all of outstanding quality and at very reasonable prices. We later enjoyed all these things for our supper with some delicious Italian wine. After the market we visited one of the food shops which had so many lovely things to buy but I settled for some dried figs which I have plans for back at home.
Lunch was at a local restaurant in Ventimiglia– spaghetti vongole and tiramisu. It was a very good finish to our adventure.
Back at home on Friday and the cupboard was bare so I raided our freezer and found some lamb and lentil casserole, carrot soup and sourdough bread to last us until stocking up at the local shops in Barnes and of course the Farmers market for vegetables, fruit and bread. We bought lots of good things as we had visiting friends and family for the weekend: fresh crab with barley and purslane; another Phil Truin chicken; black kale, radishes and red onion; a shoulder of lamb; and lots of other vegetables including fennel, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes and parsnips; parsley, thyme and the usual eating apples, pears and cooking apples.
The British cheese we tried this week is Walsingham, which I used to make cauliflower cheese as it is rather like good cheddar.
My husband has decided to learn to make pasta and so has bought some “oo” flour – I am not sure what has brought this on but I am really hoping he does actually do it.