Due to overcompensation for tube closures I arrived a little earlier than I intended. However I was invited in and quickly offered a glass of prosseco with beetroot purée. The beetroot brought a fruity sourness to the drink which was very interesting. Ok that doesn’t sound appealing, but it was nice if somewhat unusual. I took this as indicative of the evening ahead. Other guests arrived and the canapés soon followed. First offering was peperonata crostini: roasted red peppers on crisp bread. The peppers were beautifully sweet and the crostini perfectly crispy and full of flavour.
Next out were bowls of beetroot hummus with more of the crostini for dipping. The dip was really smooth and creamy, far looser than a standard hummus. It was really sweet, taking on an almost candied quality. Yet there was the lovely savoury undertone of tahini which pulled it back to being a savoury starter.
My favourite canapé was the courgette and feta fritters with spiced labneh. You can tell they were my favourites because I was so busy stuffing my face that I forgot to take a photo of them. The fritters had a touch of mint mixed into them which was really refreshing and complemented the feta really well. But the star of this dish was the spiced labneh. Something I’ve never had before but will make sure is part of my culinary experiences on the future. Just a wonderful mix of spices and the slight sharpness of the yoghurt. Exquisite!
At about 8pm our attention was drawn to Calvin from Foodcycle and the chef, Tom. I won’t recite their speeches but definitely check out Foodcycle’s website to find out about the inspirational work this charity undertakes in tackling food poverty. Also have a look Tom’s Feast to learn about his fantastic approach to food. To give you a hint 90% of the food we ate was donated from surplus and there was also a healthy (literally) dose of donated foraged food.
Having had our meal explained to us the salivation glands had kicked in and I was glad to be led to our seats. The evening centred on communal eating so we were seated at tables of eight. After sufficient time for introductions and for the conversation to begin to flow we were served our starters. This was a foraged wild salad of sea acer, orache, mustard, sweet cicely, and garlic flowers with mackerel escabeche and pickled carrots and courgettes. Vegetarian and vegan options were also available. All of the salad leaves were foraged and fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the sweet cicely which has a slightly furry texture and a subtle aniseed taste. The garlic flowers, as well as bringing the expected flavour and a slight pleasant nuttiness. The preserving process made the mackerel incredibly soft and also softened the intensity of flavour. Overall it was beautifully constructed dish, and unlike anything I’d had before.
The main meal was served on serving platters an we spent our time chatting munching and passing plates up and down the table. We were treated to:
• rolled pigs head porchetta with wild horseradish, foraged watercress an rocket.
• home salted pollock and sole with mussels, butter, spinach, sorrel, wilted samphire and sea purslane
• roasted yellow peppers, capers and balsamic reduction
• oval tomatoes with salsa verde
• mushroom with oloroso and breadcrumbs
• grilled courgettes and radicchio, sesame seeds, labneh and cumin
• roasted carrots with cumin and parsley
• Ed’s lettuce salad
• Cleo the sourdough
Yes I did just write “Cleo the sourdough”. You’ve got to respect a chef who cares so much about his sourdough the he names it. Even better he very generously offered a portion of the starter to anyone who wanted it and encouraged us to pass it on ourselves. I’m exceedingly excited to try! Friends and family, if you want your own portion, just let me know.
Back to the main course. The pig’s head porchetta was really strange. Great flavour, but the consistency was a little challenging. Gelatinous and crunchy at the same time. Loved the pollock dish. Such a great flavour an the mussels were large and delicious. I particularly enjoyed the greens that accompanied it. Actually overall I think the vegetable dishes outshone the meat, they were that good! I loved the salsa verde. The dominant herb was mint and it had a wonderful freshness to its the mushrooms were so flavoursome an I wish there’d been more. The grilled courgettes were also fantastic, but with more of that wonderful labneh it couldn’t really go wrong. just a fantastic meal. We all ate way too much, conscious that this food ha all been forage or reclaimed, so we didn’t want it to go to waste.
Despite having already eaten way too much, is there anyone in the world who wouldn’t find room for salt chocolate torte with caramelised beetroot and chantilly cream with beetroot syrup? If anyone can answer yes then I wish you’d been there so I could have eaten your portion too! It was amazing! The caramelised beetroot was fantastic. I want to learn how to do that to a beetroot. The torte was…I’m not sure I have the words. It was intense rich and chocolatey without being excessively sweet. So intense that the chantilly cream was needed to cut through it. Sorry, I’m salivating at the memory as I write this.
It was a really lovely evening with interesting food that I would never have had the opportunity to try otherwise. Thanks to Foodcycle and Tom’s Feast. You’ll be seeing me again!