"Life's too short to eat the same meal twice"

Lunch at Macknade with Food Writers Guild

It was a real treat to visit this outstanding food hall, deli and butcher with its lovely cafe. 

Based in Faversham Kent, Macknade has been established for 40 years and in that time has won numerous awards - easy to see why with the excellent quality of its local produce and butchery.

Quicke's Cheese

Mary Quicke makes multi award-winning cheeses and I thoroughly enjoyed touring her farm and dairy.

Good cheese starts with good pasture, which what makes Mary's cheese so good. With a special gadget to measure the pasture’s forage mass, we learned that actually they farm the grass rather than the cows.

Quicke’s rear their own hybrid cattle with a mixture of breeds including Friesian, Holstein, Jersey, Scandinavian Red, Brown Swiss and Montbeliard. This creates a unique milk which becomes the superb Quickes cheese.

I watched Double Devonshire cheese being made and tasted it at every stage.

Then into the maturing rooms. The first area for newly made cheeses which need to be turned every day. 

Next the aging room where cheese is matured for up to 24 months. These cheeses have to be turned every ten days.

Of course I visited the farm shop to bring home the cheese and was delighted with the mature cheddar and a delicious vegetarian cheddar-style goat’s cheese.

Pipers Farm

Pipers Farm in Devon is a 50-acre farm run by Peter and Henri Grieg. They rear excellent meat and are very proud of their herd of Red Ruby cattle, a native Exmoor breed.

Working together with 25 other small farms across the West Country, Pipers Farm produces free-range meats and artisan produce which is delivered across the country.

A small group of us from the Guild of Food Writers assembled in the barn and were greeted with hot drinks and homemade apple cake.

We then went on a cow pat safari (!) where Peter explained the importance of good pasture and the importance of good soil biome. He uses ‘mob-grazing’ a technique where cattle are moved daily into small area of fresh pasture, this greatly improves soil quality, the quality of the pasture and animal health.

After looking at the small smoker, which is used to smoke bacon, it was into the tractor trailer and off to a cider orchard for a tasting of Ridge & Furrow award winning ciders.

Next on the itinerary was a small family run farm that produces free range turkey and outdoor reared saddle back pigs for Pipers.

Then back to the barn for mulled cider and a discussion over a delicious dinner. It was hugely inspiring to meet such passionate farmers and growers delivering top quality produce.

The Slaughters Manor House

In the Idyllic Cotswolds village of Lower Slaughter, The Slaughters Manor House is a contemporary country house hotel set in 5 acres of lovely grounds.

We went for lunch. The menu offers a six-course tasting menu at £67.50 or 2 courses at a very reasonable £25 /3-courses at £30. I went for the three course menu which turned out to be 3 dishes from the tasting menu.

Futurist Report and Launch Debate with BRITA

This was a fascinating project, forecasting future trends in the hospitality world and collaborating with BRITA on an in-depth industry report which consulted over 750 hospitality professionals. Looking at hospitality in 2044, the report was based on industry research considering the most important areas for food service, and changes to expect in 25 years time.

The ‘Catering School of Expertise’ provides a unique BRITA toolkit for everyone in the hospitality world. 

With practical solutions that enable successful future planning, the report overwhelming highlights the view that advances in technology will drive change.

My own predictions included:
  • Future kitchens as a cross between a Formula 1 garage and hospital operating theatre
  • Smart systems with fully automated ordering and stock control to eliminate waste and guarantee traceability and sustainability
  • The rise of ghost kitchens with strict hygiene, traceability and tracking to satisfy ever-growing demand for restaurant-quality food delivery

To launch the 'Life is Better Filtered' report, BRITA hosted an experiential Futurist Dinner debate with innovative food from Flavourology. 

The menu included a personalised starter based on responses to a mini questionnaire.

We then enjoyed a delicious duck course and the Maxi-Wave 2044 main, before ending with a future pudding we composed ourselves.

After dinner I chaired the panel debate with a great line-up of BRITA’s Chris Fay, Sarah Widdett, head of insights and marketing at Bidfood, and Jamie Crummie, co-founder of food waste reduction app ‘Too Good To Go. 

All of whom gave a stimulating take on the food of the future and how the industry will adapt: looking at the variety of equipment we'll need, food sustainability, waste reduction, and the future consumer and what they'll eat.

Take a visit to the future and see the research report here: https://issuu.com/britaprofessional/docs/190903-brita-toolkit-final-single_page_version

Chutney Season

September sees a glut of fruit and vegetables so it’s the best time of year to preserve some of this autumn bounty to enjoy throughout the winter months.

Jams, chutney, pickles and liqueurs are all easy to make and well worth a little effort as they'll easily last until next September and beyond - in fact they're better with a little maturity.

This year with the last of my cooking apples and tomatoes I made a delicious spicy tomato and apple chutney with garlic, chili and smoked paprika.

A kilo of my homegrown tomatoes and 800g (once peeled and cored) of bramley cooking apples from the tree, made 7 jars of chutney.

Using my organic garden produce and some wild hedgerow goodies, I also made courgette relish, an apple and vegetable pickle, and a gallon of sloe vodka!