Monthly Archives: September 2009

Best kept secrets….sssshhhh

Like my supper club they’re not going to remain secret now I’ve started talking about them. Mind you, as many who live around here know it takes a little while for people to get hold of new ideas, schemes, initiatives and so on, and although on the one hand I don’t want to be inundated with requests for my services, I also want to make this scheme work and for that I need customers, diners, clients….

So if i tell you about my two favourite ‘secret’ sources (although many locals will already be in the ‘know’)  please don’t beat a path to their door, but discretely and quietly find them and ask if they would like new customers.

The Bethesda whole food co-op, haven of hippies and wholefood enthusiasts  and fondly described by my crass carnivore friend as ‘the place where you can get a bag of shite for 50p’…shite being rather a lot of beans and pulses and although the 50p is something of an exaggeration, it is still pretty cheap and very environmentally friendly.

The shop is a co-operative, run by local volunteers and its existence is highly dependent on the commitment of those willing to give up their time to work there. It was established in 1979 with a few key members. Orders were originally made by the group and delivered to someones house. Following the success of this in 1984 members clubbed together to buy the shop, which is the one we visit today.

The Wholefood co-op with small customer

The Whole food co-op with small customer

The shop originally opened 3 or 4 times a week, but it ran into difficulty with the loss of key members,  disorganisation ensued and there were problems with theft and financial loss. It was only when Dave arrived that the shop began once again to make a profit. There are still key members who take on the majority of the responsibility, Dave opens up, Mike unloads deliveries and Geraldine orders the food (which comes from Survival Foods In Herefordshire  http://www.survivalwholefoods.co.uk/)

They are always looking for new members and volunteers.

I love the co-op because it has a spartan quirkiness about it, filled to the brim with ready bagged and weighed dry goods (all done by volunteers), large bottles and containers of Ecover (for which you need to bring your own bottles) and other stuff like Tahini (for which once again you need your own jar). The place is basic and has no airs and graces, it is place to buy, chat and is around 5 minutes or so from my house.

Ready bagged dry goods

Ready bagged dry goods

The other treat that I look forward to is Pippa and John’s weekly veg box. The box scheme only runs over the spring, summer and early Autumn months and features a variety of seasonal produce all grown on their smallholding in Llanrug. Boxes generally stop when produce becomes sparse (usually the late winter months) but some veg can still be bought from the farm.

The place isn’t easy to find, the first time I went there I drove past the entrance three times because I thought it was a footpath. I phoned my husband

does the turning look like i’m about to drive through the hedge into a field?”

“that’s it you’ve found it” He replied

The track was very grassy and I worried that my low chassis, sports model Passat would get firmly stuck on a mound of earth (if anyone could do it, it would be me! It’s a bit of a shit car to own living around here really and it no longer resembles its former pristine self having had one too many encounters with country hazards).

My supper club produce will hopefully all come from there and will of course be seasonal. Now as you can tell Pippa and John have no shortage of customers, but people move on, move away, so they are always willing to take new names.

Pippa and John's fields....looking towards the polytunnels

Pippa and John’s fields….looking towards the poly tunnels

Rows of veg boxes being prepared

Rows of veg boxes being prepared

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Filed under British food, local produce, secret supper, Sources and suppliers

Supper club pictures

It seemed a waste not to take any pictures, especially as I had to have a practise run at setting the house up for the supper club. So while I awaited the arrival of the very nice photographer from the Western Mail, I got the camera out and took these.

Table for two

Table for two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large table, or family dining style

Large table, or family dining style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table set with tea lights, wild flowers and linen made by my lovely friend Sophie

Table set with tea lights, wild flowers and linen made by my lovely friend Sophie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table in front of the fire (with small person who had to get in the shot)

Table in front of the fire (with small person who had to get in the shot)

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Filed under secret supper, underground restaurant

Menu for the 9th and 10th of October

I have finally decided on the menu for the first two nights of the supper club, based on seasonal, local produce

On arrival: Champagne cocktail (it is the opening night after all) and nibbles

Starter: Smoked mackerel pate with toasted, home made Rye bread

Mains: Slow cooked lamb shank with sweet potato mash and seasonal vegetables or Individual vegetarian moussaka with seasonal vegetables

Dessert: Damson fool with homemade shortbread

Followed by coffee and cheese board of local organic cheeses and biscuits

Hope this whets your appetites

Denise x

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Filed under secret supper, underground restaurant

The best accompaniment for Sloes is gin!!

You may have been wondering (if you were bored for a few seconds) what happened to all that lovely foraged fruit that I collected the other week. Well, its all been put to very good use. You may remember we collected damsons, elderberries, blackberries and sloes.

Well, I’ve been harping on about the damsons ad infinitum and you are probably heartily sick of hearing about the damson fool we  lived off for three weeks (not the same one, I just made it rather a lot). Believe it or not I still had damsons leftover which I’ve been slowly ploughing through. Those not frowzen for the winter months  (when we most need an edible reminder of summer and a bit of extra Vitamin C) were mixed with vodka and left to steep.

Freezer full of Damsons and Blackberries

Freezer full of Damsons and Blackberries

As for the Sloe’s, in my opinion there IS only one thing you can do with them…. it has to be Sloe gin, dark, syrupy sweet, goes down like fruit juice and satisfyingly lethal! I have to admit my sister and I got through a whole bottle on Boxing Day last Christmas (not a whole litre bottle Ok, although i’m sure we could have done that with ease; it was the size of a half bottle so not that bad). We had a very happy day, but as we nursed our hangovers the next morning we stared sorrowfully (through our dark glasses) at the empty bottle and wished we’d saved some for the rest of the festive period, it was just too good not to drink. Oh well, we learn’t our lesson, make double next time!!! Sloe gin for Christmas: 2lb (900g) fruit to 2 pints (1.2litres) spirits (it doesn’t have to be the best gin, as the fruit will flavour it beautifully) to 1lb (450g) sugar….or thereabouts.

I’m none too careful with my measuring when it comes to Sloe gin. I prick any firm fruit with a needle or try and crush them a little then feed into a clean demi-john or very large preserving jar and top up with gin. Either cork the top with a tight fitting bung, screw on a lid and give it a bit of a shake so the sugar, fruit and gin is mixed. Leave in a cool dark place for as many months as you can before the urge to start drinking it takes over. If you make it now it will definately be ready in time for Christmas. Every week or so give it a turn and a little shake as the sugar will settle on the bottom. When its ready strain the gin into clean bottles and cork. The recipe tells me that the flavour gets better with keeping, but I’ve never been able to keep mine for more than a few weeks. I really must try and develop some willpower. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same luck with my Elderberry syrup. Once the fruit was prepared and in the pan cooking I noticed an odd, slightly nausea inducing aroma. It took me a while but I finally worked out, that it reminded me of that Henna powder I used to get from the local ‘Head’ shop when I was a hippy teenager. With sugar added it was no better, I tried to taste it a few times to see if I could convince myself that I liked it, but alas I feel the experiment failed. I haven’t wasted it though, its bottled in the fridge and due to be recycled in an apple and elderberry chutney…surely the addition of chilli, onion etc will stop it smelling like hippy hair dye!The evil, nausea inducing, Elderberries

Demijohn with Sloe's, sugar and half topped up with gin