Another November menu goes live! Nice to see the leaves turning.
This has been a fun menu to think about: the process of planning a menu includes the consideration of what's available in season (this time of year there's kale and squash in abundance), what's looking nice on supplier lists (foraged black trompette mushrooms are a particular joy right now), what might compliment all these things (herbs from our friends at Sutton Farm, liberal pinches of Berkswell TBCE*), what might be fun (eg. unusual vegan toppings and a break from macadamia cheese) and what special things we have in the store cupboard or prep kitchen (keeping the fermentation experiments under control- see below).
There's a lot of talk at the moment about sustainability in the face of Cop26. There is a consensus that agriculture is an area where much positive change could be leveraged for the environment. For what it's worth, one really simple approach which we think is powerful in fighting for a healthier environment is to get as close as possible to the people who produce your food.
Here is a pretty comprehensive list of produce and producers that are on the new menu. They're all, without exception, a remarkable and excellent bunch of people and they grow/make/produce amazing food, which we assemble into a tasty menu:
We use flour from Shipton Mill and Cann Mills.
We use semolina from the marvellous Gilchesters Organic.
Every day we mill some of our own flour fresh- the sourdough starter is fed with milled Holma rye from Scotland the Bread. For pizza dough we're using Gilchesters' Emmer grain and Duchess Farms' Lys Brun, both delicious heritage wheat varieties.
Duchess Farms also provide us with cold-pressed rapeseed oil grown in rotation with their wheat.
Our mozzarella is produced by the experts at La Latteria with British milk and delivered by the Cheese Merchant. They also send us Brue Valley organic butter and the famous colander-pressed flying saucers of Berkswell which we use instead of Pecorino.
Our mascarpone is from the Dorset Cheese co.
The Meaty Marg features Bath Pig chorizo.
Tempus Foods produce the fascinating No.8 soft salami that goes onto the Seasonal special.
Totally Wild send us wild mushrooms foraged in the UK- current mix is black trompette, hedgehog and winter chanterelle.
We make our own hot sauce from red chillies grown in Dorset and onions and garlic from Langridge organic, who also provide us with Crown Prince and Harlequin squash for our respective squash dishes!
The wonderful Sutton Community Farm send us a year-round rotating mixed salad selection. It's 100% uplifting to receive this sort of produce. They also give us kale for specials, Florence onions and garlic to last the winter.
We've started to use pea shoots from the fascinating Growing Underground in Clapham- hydroponic plants grown under LEDs in the heart of the city. Future farming!
Our olive oil comes from Kamil and family at the Olive Branch. It's single-variety EV from Koroneiki olives grown in Crete.
Tomato currently comes from Puglia (Daniele also comes from there!) courtesy of Alce Nero organic.
Don't even get us started on the drinks list and ice cream!
Perhaps the most exciting of all the ingredients is the miso... We try to use fermentation as a central facet of our menu and, as winter rolls in, it becomes useful for managing produce where consistency or availability diminishes with the season. Moreover, fermentation is a tremendous way of adding complexity and deepening flavour. Try our house pickles to see what you can do with a simple mix of veg and a little lactic-acid producing bacteria.
We've begun to make miso- mostly short-ferment batches that utilise fresh or dried ingredients like broad beans and peas. One of the 6-month peaso batches features on the vegan pizza this month. The transformation of simple ingredients like peas/pulses into a deep umami is remarkable. We've even got a miso of rye and elderberry bread that we will have ready for the Christmas menu. It's awesome.
Perhaps the coolest thing of all, and the most relevant to healing the broken relationships we have with our supply chains, is the thing that the miso represents: in summer we ordered 4kg of beautiful broad beans from Sutton Community Farm, podded and steamed them. These get mixed with koji and salt and put in a jar for a few months. Over time, the mixture develops into something that is beginning to resemble miso! The passage of time sees the further development of flavour and as this happens it becomes more and more valuable for what it can bring to a dish. This month's vegan pizza is a simple combo of vegetables that's totally elevated by the smallest amount of this miso. It's a succinct process, low on waste, exponentially increasing the worth of simple food to something that improves everything with it. Food doesn't have to be reduced to function: there is room to cherish the produce, develop relationships with producers and get immersed in the process. The slow food journey is such a good journey.
The new Seasonal Special.
* The Best Cheese Ever (discuss...)