BREAD&BUTTER the voice of independent british food
The true cost of organic The Real Willie Wonka Wine & olives: made in Britain
Plus AA Gill End of the line for Cornish fishermen? London: the new coffee capital
Meat the Future
The best of Broadway Market p56
p6 Diary Your guide to this spring’s food and drink events. p9 News Feed Essential food news from across the country. p24 Comment The Problem with Organic: are all organic certifications worth it?
p13 Law of the Land Uncovering misleading menus. p15 County Focus Revealing Lincolnshire’s unknown gems. p27 Photo Essay Photographer Gabrielle Motola explores the capital’s oldest eating establishments.
p18 Cover Story: Making the cut Butchers are being forced to raise their game in the face of supermarket domination. We find out how. p30 Troubled waters New legislation is forcing Cornish fishermen to defend their right to fish sustainably. p35 In the heat of the moment Britain now grows apricots, peaches and olives. We examine how farmers are responding to our changing climate, and what the future holds.
p30 Fishermen fight back p40 Willie spills the beans Meet Britain’s most innovative chocolatier: Willie Harcourt-Cooze. p44 The London coffee revolution Introducing the new wave of coffee connoisseurs. p49 Would you like to see the beer list, Sir? How micro-brewers are transforming the dining out experience. p61 State of the pollination Why a decline in bees could spell disaster for British agriculture.
No bees: the sting in the tale p61
p53 Profile Caerphilly Does It: we discover the trade secrets of a Welsh cheese dairy. p56 In the Market On Broadway: explore one of London’s best food markets. p65 Back to Basics Introducing the Sussex company challenging bad bread. p66 At the End of the Day Henrietta Green from Food Lovers Britain shares her secrets.
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Food is everything
BREAD& BUTTER Editor Daniel Tapper firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor Rachel Smith Managing Editor Sarah Simpson Features Editor Estella Shardlow Regulars Editor India Sturgis News Editor Mike Kielty Online Editor Elinor Block Production Editor Jonny Garrett Art Editor Jennifer Lucy Allan Deputy Art Editor Clare Vooght Picture Editor Caroline Gosney
elcome to the first issue of BREAD&BUTTER magazine. We’re here to unite, inform and represent the independent British food and drink industry. Spring is in the air and British food is on the cusp of real culinary change. Demand for locally sourced, seasonal food is on the rise and farmers’ markets are flourishing. BREAD&BUTTER is packed full of the latest news, features and photojournalism exploring some of the biggest issues facing the industry.
We visit the Cornish fishermen fighting for sustainable practices, explore the changing attitudes towards British meat and expose the problems with organic certification. We want to give a voice to the people behind this movement, from bespoke cheesemakers in Wales to olive growers in Devon and coffee roasters in London. BREAD&BUTTER aims to become the essential companion to the contemporary British food industry. We hope you agree. Daniel Tapper, editor
Chief Sub James McIrvine Advertising Dolly H Alderton Staff Writers Jessica Blunden, Jessica Pike Photographers Gabrielle Matola, India Sturgis, Estella Shardlow, Rachel Smith, Clare Vooght, Jonny Garrett Printers Europa Printing Group 72 New Bond Street London W1S 1RR Tel: 0800 689 9117 Cover Image: © Suki Dhanda/Guardian
Bread&Butter magazine is printed on at least 70% recycled paper
Food is a packet of crisps and it’s the body and blood of Christ and everything in between. Food is how we identify each other. It’s the frogs and the krauts and the rosbifs. It’s about manners and hospitality. It’s about feeding people to make them well. We don’t have an occasion in our lives that we don’t mark with food. Food is everything. It is the great metaphor for life. When you taste food, you use the same part of the brain you share with lizards. It’s older than anything else in your head. There is nothing rational about food
A A Gill
speaking to BREAD&BUTTER, 2010
>Online: for all this month’s online content go to www.breadandbuttermagazine.co.uk
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The season in food
Bread&Butter’s choice of British food and drink events this spring
April 19-20 The Taste of the West Trade Show and Source Exhibition Two trade events in one at Westpoint in Exeter, showcasing new products in food and drink production and services. www.tasteofthewesttradeshow.co.uk
Ludlow Spring Festival
Ludlow Castle, Shropshire May 8-9
April 23-June 21 The British Asparagus Festival Celebrate asparagus in Evesham, the Cotswolds, starting with the Great English Asparagus Run on April 23. www.britishasparagusfestival.org April 24-25 The East Anglian Game & Country Fair A weekend of tuition, competitions and shows in Norwich. Includes demonstrations of flyfishing, Falconry, cooking and forestry. www.ukgamefair.co.uk April 28-May 1 Paisley Beer Festival 23rd annual Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) event. With 170 real ales, ciders and foreign beers and live music throughout the weekend. www.paisleybeerfestival.org.uk April 28-May 3 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Visit local distilleries, enjoy whisky tastings and attend the Speyside Whisky Awards over a long weekend in Scotland. www.spiritofspeyside.com April 29 ‘Even-Better New Product Development (NPD) Strategies’ Seminar A day to discuss technology in the food industry, organised by the Food & Drink Innovation Network. Features guest speaker Meabh Quorin, Managing Director of the Future Foundation. www.fdin.org.uk May 1-3 The Dales Festival of Food & Drink A weekend of great food, drink, farming and music held in the heart of Wensleydale. www.dalesfestivaloffood.org
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Ludlow’s Spring Festival is a great rural weekend away. Although it’s only the second year of the event, held in Ludlow Castle, Shropshire, it’s already becoming well established on the foodie calendar. Inside the castle there are stands selling produce from goat burgers to sausage and leek hash. At the Sunday market outside you can find anything from ethically traded Sri Lanken May 1-9 National Real Bread Maker Week The inaugural week to encourage a return to handmade bread. www.sustainweb.org/realbread May 7-10 Real Food Festival Watch celebrity chefs cook, see livestock demonstrations and browse over 400 exhibitors’ stalls at Earl’s Court, London. www.realfoodfestival.co.uk May 9 South Suffolk Show The show at Ampton Racecourse attracts 12,000 people and features a food hall,horse and livestock classes and trade stands. www.southsuffolkshow.co.uk
spices to handmade scotch eggs and local perry. There are scores of festival pubs with draft beer on sale for £2 a pint and around 130 real ales to choose from. There is also a schedule of talks over the two days. Listen to master brewer, Alex Barlow, discussing how to make better beer. Or go to a lecture on the challenges for craft bakers today. www.springevent.org May 11-12 British Pig & Poultry Fair A Warwickshire business event for the pig industry. A chance to meet and greet and see the latest in swine technology. www.pigandpoultryfair.org.uk May 12-14 Balmoral Show Ireland’s biggest agricultural show, held in the King’s Hall in Belfast. www.balmoralshow.co.uk May 13 British Meat Processors Association BMPA Conference and Annual Dinner. A chance to meet with other meat industry pundits in Oxfordshire. www.bmpa.uk.com
No07 May 15-16 The Royal Welsh Smallholder & Garden Festival An event which covers everything you need to know starting as a rural smallholder. Featuring falconry, ferrets and farmers’ markets. www.rwas.co.uk
ENGLISH WINE WEEK Nationwide
May 29-June 6
Restaurants and vineyards across the country will have wine tastings and special offers. Highlights include the Vinopolis wine-tasting centre in London, with a special array of English wines available for tasting throughout the week. Seasonal produce will be available to accompany the wine. The campaign is organised by English Wine Producers. Spokeswoman Julia Trustam Eve said: “Over the course of the week, the UK wine industry and on and off trade alike will take the opportunity to highlight English wines to the wine-buying public, through special events, tastings, offers and other activities.” Ticket prices vary regionally. www.englishwineweek.co.uk
May 15-16 Bath Coffee Festival A two day celebration of the world’s most popular drink. Includes barista demonstrations and expert sessions on food, drink and equipment from coffee companies. www.bathcoffeefestival.co.uk May 15-16 Loch Fyne Food Fair A feast of Scottish west coast food sold by local producers. The food fair is located near Inveraray Castle and is a two day celebration with music, food and drink. www.lochfyne.com May 18-20 London International Wine Fair Whether you produce, import, sell or serve wine, the International Wine Fair is about creating opportunities and improving your business whether you’re importing, producing or selling. 2010.londonwinefair.com
May 22 Otley Agricultural Show This Yorkshire agricultural show has been running for more than 200 years. It attracts around 12,000 visitors and has livestock exhibitions as well as over 100 trade stands. www.otleyshow.org.uk
May 20-22 Devon County Show Held just outside Exeter, the show includes food, drink, crafts, a giant robot and garden displays from all over the West Country. Great for families as well as those in the industry. www.devoncountyshow.co.uk
May 25-27 The Complete Processing & Packaging Expo The UK’s leading packaging exhibition at the NEC Birmingham. Discover ways to enhance your food packaging marketing and logistics. www.totalexhibition.com
NATIONAL VEGETARIAN WEEK Nationwide May 24-30
Whether it’s a pesto and tofu Mediterranean salad, a berry smoothie, a Malaysian curry or a pita full of falafels, spend the week re-igniting your love of vegetarian cuisine. The event is now in its 18th year, and is organised by the Vegetarian Society, an educational charity founded in 1847. The aim of the week is to encourage individuals and institutions to revamp vegetarian menu options, focus on
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fruit and vegetable consumption, and simply try something different. Su Taylor from the Vegetarian Society described the advantage of spending a week experimenting with new cuisine: “Veggie food is often the cheaper option, the greener option, the healthier option and it’s always the best choice if you care about animals. Try being different for a week - it just might be the best choice you ever make.” www.nationalvegeterianweek.org
May 27 Beef Expo 2010 The annual National Beef Association event in Northumberland with trade stands, machinery demonstrations and seminars. www.beefexpo.co.uk May 28-31 Taste of Edinburgh Be a part of ‘the world’s greatest restaurant festival’. Farmers’ markets, trade exhibitors and demonstration cooking will hit Scotland’s capital for the weekend at the end of the month. www.tastefestivals.com/edinburgh May 29-30 Country Fest With cookery demonstrations and live music. Celebrate the diversity of independent food and drink suppliers in Cumbria and the north west. www.westmorlandshow.co.uk May 28-31 Welsh Perry and Cider Festival A chance to try award-winning ciders from all over Wales hosted by the Clytha Arms near Abergavenny. www.welshcider.co.uk May 31 Surrey County Show The UK’s biggest one-day county show. www.surreycountyshow.co.uk
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UK is still top importer of champagne Britons continue to knock back bubbly, despite the effects of the economic downturn The UK has kept its spot as the biggest importer of champagne in the world, even though the recession has forced a fall in sales. Champagne sales in Britain have been hit by the credit crunch, dropping 15 per cent last year. But this was much lower than the 40 per cent drop that some experts predicted. Leading drinks trader Fine Wine Sellers has been pleasantly surprised at how well champagne sales have stayed up. Despite losing some corporate clients, the company has not suffered a large decrease in sales. A Fine Wine Sellers spokesperson said that the high levels of British champagne consumption could be explained by the
competition between different UK wine sellers. She said: “There are so many great champagne deals. In Tesco you can buy six bottles for ridiculously little money in comparison to a couple of years ago. The fact that champagne keeps, might mean that people have been buying loads when it’s been cheap and then keep it in storage.” The longest champagne bar in Europe, St Pancras Grand at St Pancras station in London, has seen a 20 per cent increase on last year’s sales. Its owner, the catering group Searcy, has just opened a new champagne bar in the Westfield Shopping Centre, London, where sales have also been well above expectations. They plan to double the
new bar’s seating capacity. Michelle Cartwright of Searcy said that champagne was still accessible for customers in the present economic climate. “Champagne is viewed here as an ‘affordable luxury’. You might not be able to treat yourself to a Chanel bag, but you can still feel very special with a glass of champagne.” Wine merchants Laithwaites said that it had never been easier for customers to find cheap bottles of fizz. Helen McEvoy, Laithwaites’ buyer for champagne, said: “The sound of a cork popping and the clinking of glasses cannot fail to put a smile on most people’s faces, despite the doom and gloom outside.” Rachel Smith © Chapel Down Vineyard - Van Communications
Government wants alcoholic units displayed on all drinks
Report claims only 15 per cent of alcoholic drinks give consumers enough health information, even though millions of Britons drink over the limit The government is considering making it compulsory for drinks labels to show the number of alcohol units. A voluntary agreement on the labelling of alcoholic drinks has been running since 2007, but an independent report by the Department of Health has shown disappointing results. The report showed that 85 per cent of
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alcoholic drinks did not provide enough information about alcohol units. Nine million people in England drink above the recommended daily limit. The Minister for Public Health, Gillian Merron, said that companies like Fosters and Kronenbourg had made “responsible efforts” to make their labelling more informative. But he also said that across
the drinks industry, “overall progress on labelling is very disappointing”. Mark Reynier, owner of Bruichladdich whisky distillery in the Inner Hebrides, said: “Sticking a load of logos, labels and messages on to a bottle of alcohol is not the way forward. No one will take any notice of them. It renders all alcohol a dangerous chemical.” Jessica Pike
NEWS FEED ON THE SIDE
Meat factories criticised for exploitation of industry workers
Musician Alex James has said that farming is harder than playing bass The Blur musician has turned his hand to cheesemaking in Kingham, Oxfordshire, making a cheddar called ‘Little Wallop’. But in a recent interview with radio station XFM, he said: “I thought I was retiring for a quiet life, but I’m busier than ever.”
Small, independent meat businesses claim they have better standards than larger meat processing plants
The British cook more than the French A survey has shown that the British are more likely to cook at home, and they spend longer doing it. The survey by the French magazine Madame Le Figaro and the BBC’s Olive magazine showed that 72 per cent of Britons cook at home every day, compared to just 59 per cent of French people.
Workers in meat factories are experiencing “widespread mistreatment and exploitation”, according to a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). According to the report, which was published in March, one in five of the workers interviewed had been pushed, kicked or had objects thrown at them by managers. It also reported that pregnant women were forced to stand for hours and that even staff with bladder problems or heavy periods were denied toilet breaks. Smaller, independent meat
businesses have distanced themselves from these working practices. Mike Feller, of M Feller Son and Daughter butchers in Oxford, said: “I haven’t experienced these bad factory conditions, but it’s not surprising. No one cares about the product any more; they just care about the end price.” Emma Higgens, of Newlyn’s Farm Shop, Hampshire, blamed the poor working conditions on supermarkets whose desire for low prices encourages factorystyle meat processing: “We buy day-old chicks for £1.20. Tesco sell whole chickens for £1.26. It’s just so cheap.”
Higgens added that the quality suffers because supermarkets aren’t willing to lose profits. “The end product is pumped full of water and salt to increase the shelf life.” Industry representatives have condemned the practices. Stephen Rossides, director of the British Meat Processors’ Association (BMPA), said: “The instances of illegal, unethical, unfair and degrading practices, which the report has found in some parts of the industry are completely unacceptable in a modern food industry.” Jessica Pike
New ombudsman to protect supermarket suppliers
Tory spokesman attacks Labour’s record on agriculture Nick Herbert, the Conservative Party’s secretary for the environment, food and rural affairs, has claimed that Labour has “persistently under-valued British agriculture”. He told the recent NFU conference that the Tories would be protecting more than a fifth of all the farmland in England through restrictions on development of agricultural land.
Regulations will protect suppliers from being bullied by supermarket chains The government plans to create a new investigative body or ombudsman to ensure compliance with the new Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP). The minister for consumer affairs, Kevin Brennan, said the government was “pushing ahead” with the plans to ensure compliance with GSCOP. He added that GSCOP will “ensure free and fair competition” and allow the grocery market “to work in the long-term best interest of consumers”.
GSCOP applies to 10 major supermarket chains. It forbids activities such as altering contracts retrospectively and asking suppliers to fund promotions, such as two-for-one deals. It came into force in February. Stores like Tesco has criticised the plans for the ombudsman. Complaints about breaches of the code will be heard anonymously so producers are encouraged to speak out against unscrupulous retailers without fear of retribution. James McIrvine
© Aleksander Andjic - Dreamstime.com
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NEWS FEED ON THE SIDE Horse meat now on the menu at a UK restaurant The Edinburgh restaurant L’Escargot Bleu is the first in Britain to offer horse steaks to its diners. The Frenchthemed restaurant is serving pan-fried rump steak or steak tartare. L’Escargot Bleu patron, Fred Berkmiller said: “It is tender, sweet, less fatty than beef, and contains higher levels of iron and omega-3.”
© United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service
Dairy farmers give support to plans for new ‘super farm’ Independent farmers claim that a huge new dairy planned in Lincolnshire will keep high standards of animal welfare A proposal for a £40 million farm designed for 8,100 cows is being supported by dairy farmers, despite criticism from animal welfare groups. David Cotton, the Chairman of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF), said it was good news that some dairy farmers felt confident enough to go ahead with such a large planning application. He said that “as long as the animals are kept in a healthy, welfare-friendly environment”, the farm could work well. Angus Wielkopolski, who keeps 2,000 goats on a 300acre dairy farm in Yorkshire, also supports the plan: “Having seen the cows on
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the farms of both the dairy farmers involved, I have no doubt that they are capable of operating to very high standards of cow welfare. “I am convinced that larger units tend to have much better management, which is better for the animals and the environment,” he said. A spokesman from Nocton Dairies, the group behind the plan, said that the cows in the proposed farm would be free to roam indoors. When they are not being milked and the weather is dry, they would be able to graze outside. But this has not stopped animal welfare groups from attacking the plan. Justin Kerswell, campaign leader at Vegetarians International
Voice for Animals (VIVA), said the cows on the farm would not be able to roam freely. He said: “Cows need to be in a field. Nocton Dairies keeps talking about them having ‘room to roam’, but what they mean is roaming from one wall to another.” Kerswell also said that the proposed dairy farm was unethical. He commented: “What we’re dealing with here are essentially Frankenstein’s monsters. It’s along the same lines as turkeys that can’t stand up because they’ve been bred to have such huge breasts or chickens that have to be killed at six weeks old because they’re so heavy their legs can’t hold them.” Rachel Smith
Meat industry disputes link between red meat and cancer Major organisations in the meat industry, including the British Meat Processors Association, have cited new evidence that calls into question a 2007 report that suggested links between red or processed meat and cancer. The authors of the report dispute this evidence. Britain’s supermarkets back country of origin labelling for pork Major supermarkets – including Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s – have signed up to a new labelling code for pork. Any products containing pork will now have to show where the original animal was reared and slaughtered, not just where the meat was processed.
GM crops will damage smaller farmers, campaign group warns Genetically modified crops should not be used to deal with climate change and population growth, says environmental charity A food campaigner for Friends of the Earth (FoE) has said that costs would be too high for small scale farmers to adopt GM technology successfully. Kirtana Chandrasekaran said that the high costs of fertilisers, herbicides and specialist seeds needed to grow GM crops mean that it would only be possible for industrial-scale farmers to produce GM food. According to Chandrasekaran, there is no evidence that GM farmers produce more food than conventional farmers. She said that GM farmers would “end up using a cocktail of herbicides, some of which were used in the Vietnam War”. This criticism follows calls in February by top US scientists for GM farming to be used in order to sustain food production in the face of climate change and population growth. According to the UN the world’s population is expected to rise to around 9.3 billion by 2050. This will increase pressure on food resources. Jim Dunwell, Professor of Plant Biotechnology at Reading University, said that GM was not vital, and would only be one of a range of potential
options. Others include cutting down food waste and eating less meat. Professor Dunwell said: “Farmers who want to can make money out of GM. They can also co-exist with non-GM farmers.” Mark Peters, a beef and arable farmer from East Sussex, said that the UK was in a strong position, because its meat was not GM and “that’s what people want”. He also said GM might be the best way to face food shortages in the future. Visiting professor of Biotechnology at King’s College London, Vivian Moses, disagreed: “You mustn’t believe anything Friends of the Earth say, there’s nothing that prevents farmers nearby from doing whatever they want. It’s more economical for small farmers to use GM. The costs are higher but they get higher yields – they’ll have to work it out themselves.” FoE wants more research to be undertaken to find other ways to prevent future food shortages. One such method is Marker-Assisted Selection, which uses gene technology to make crop selection systems more efficient at the breeding stage. Clare Vooght © Guardian
Funding for hill farmers Struggling farmers have hailed a new DEFRA payment scheme as a final “lifeline” after it was launched in the Peak District last month. The £31 million Uplands Level Stewardship scheme will reward farmers for making conservation efforts on their land. Mark Bridges, a sheep farmer based near Tavistock in Dartmoor, said: “Since foot-and-mouth and the floods over the last few years we’ve really taken a beating. It’s one thing after another. This is the life-line we’ve needed for a long time.” The scheme replaces the Hill Farm Allowance, which has been criticised for rewarding higher production levels rather than conservation work. Estella Shardlow
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Demands for EU to protect Yorkshire Puddings In February, it was rhubarb. Now a campaign has been launched for Yorkshire puddings to get a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status from the EU. Campaigners want the famous batter mix to become protected by the EU so that no one outside of Yorkshire will be able to call it ‘Yorkshire pudding’. This would give it the same status as Parma ham and champagne. The Regional Food Group for Yorkshire and Humber is behind the campaign. Spokesperson Jane Chamberlain said they were applying for the PDO status so that it would protect the rights of the businesses that make Yorkshire puddings. She said: “It has nothing to do with
stopping people from making Yorkshire puddings. The basic intention is to protect commercial trade.” But Chamberlain also warned that it would be a “drawn-out process”. Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb has recently got protected status, but it took six years for it to be confirmed by the EU. There has been criticism that giving Yorkshire Puddings PDO status would harm businesses that produce the puddings outside of Yorkshire. Antonell Bux, assistant manager at the London restaurant Modern Pantry, said: “I don’t know what we’ll call it if we can’t call it Yorkshire pudding. Maybe something like ‘roast puddings’.” Elinor Block
LAW OF THE LAND
Making food and drink legislation more digestible There’s no doubt that customers are influenced by the way food is described on menus. But did you know that these descriptions can be a violation of trading standards? The Trading Standards Institute (www.tradingstandards.gov.uk) has found that over half of the eateries they visited in England have been using misleading menu descriptions.
STARTERS: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup There’s no legal definition of ‘wild’ but trading standards officers have the right to take action if they believe this is misleading. For example, if the mushrooms were farmed rather than found. Traditional Smoked Salmon with Free-Range Egg Salad and Green Beans A recipe or cooking method can only be described as “traditional” if it has existed for at least 25 years. During this time, the ingredients and processes used to make it should have remained largely unchanged. ‘Free-range’ eggs must be produced in an environment that meets EU standards. Hens must have continuous access to daylight and open air runs. Stilton and Spinach Parcels ‘Stilton’ has legal protection and the term can be used for specific cheese. It’s one of few English cheeses to be granted the status of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) by the European Commission. Only six dairies are licensed to make Stilton in the UK. MAINS: Organic Rib-Eye Steak with Balsamic-Caper Vinaigrette ‘Organic’ is a legal term. The producers, manufacturers and processors of the food are registered and must meet stringent standards set out by the EU and their UK organic certification body. Sausage Risotto with Spring Greens A sausage must contain a minimum of 32 per cent pork. For those labelled ‘pork sausages’, the pork content should be at least 42 per cent . In beef sausages the minimum meat content is 30 per cent. British Beef Stew ‘British’ beef does not mean that the ingredients must be British, but that the product, in this case the stew, should have been put together in Britain.
Light Lemon Drizzle Cake ‘Light’ may refer to the texture rather than being low in fat or calories. It is advisable to clarify the meaning to avoid misleading customers. If ‘light’ refers to the fat or calorie content, it needs to be at least 30% lower than the typical content to qualify.
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Frame courtesy of © D Sharon Pruit
DESSERT: Grandma Betty’s Homemade Triple Berry Pie Using a name like ‘Grandma Betty’s’ should not lead to the product being easily mistaken for a similarly branded product. This is a practice called ‘passing off’. ‘Homemade’ can only be used for food made at home, or made in a way that reflects a typical domestic kitchen.
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Lincolnshire Each issue, BREAD&BUTTER visits a different county and discovers its traditional local produce. This month, Dolly Alderton heads east to see what’s being brought to the table
often have to drive through Lincolnshire. I’m always astonished at how bleak, flat and empty the county looks – even in comparison to Norfolk.” When Sam Jordison (editor of Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places To Live In The UK) gave BREAD&BUTTER his opinion on our county of the month, it was hardly a rave review. But we’re here to argue that despite Sam’s lack of enthusiasm for the place, this fecund eastern county has far more
to offer than just herby sausages and a big cathedral. Lincolnshire is famous for cultivating wheat, barley, sugar beet and oil seed rape. The county’s soil is rich and grows an abundance of vegetables including cabbages, cauliflowers and onions. The county is also known for local dishes like stuffed chine (featured over the page) and plum bread. We’ve picked some of the best independent food businesses Lincolnshire has to offer.
All this month’s businesses except Laking’s of Louth supply wholesale. For details contact: Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese www.lincolnshirepoachercheese.com 01507 466987 Woodlands Organic Farm www.woodlandsfarm.co.uk 01205724778 Lakings of Louth Contact Chris Smith: 01507 603186 Lincolnshire Wild Venison email@example.com Order wholesale online for next day delivery anywhere in the UK.
A view of Lincoln Cathedral from Castle Square
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COUNTY FOCUS Poacher cheese Brothers Tim and Simon Jones produce famous cheese at their dairy farm on the eastern edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. The cheese is made with fresh, unpasteurized milk collected from their dairy herd. The farm itself has been in the family since 1917 and has been a dairy farm since 1970. The cheese is similar to a traditional West Country Cheddar, but the Poacher has very specific differences to give it its unique taste and texture. “We’ve developed the recipe for our cheese so that it doesn’t taste exactly like West Country cheddar and the flavour sits outside of this bracket,” says Tim. “It should really be eaten on its own, but personally I think it goes well with a lot of light, sweet wines or grapes.” Tim also believes it’s a good cheese to cook with, with many chefs using Lincolnshire Poacher in recipes. “Celebrity chef James Martin used our cheese in a savoury bread and butter pudding,” he says. The cheese has won a number of awards including Supreme Champion at The British Cheese Awards and Best British Cheese at the World Cheese Awards. The Jones brothers have an eco-friendly philosophy and strive to manage and run their farm with as little environmental impact as possible. To this end, they ensure their land is organic, they only cut hedges in a three year cycle, cattle are fed with crops grown on the farm and they avoid the use of nitrogen, pesticides and fertilizers. Tim and Simon believe that the more natural the system of producing their cheese, the better tasting the end product. From looking at the success of Lincolnshire Poacher, it’s a philosophy that evidently works.
Organic produce Woodlands farm in South Holland is nestled in the fertile Lincolnshire Fens and produces fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products. Woodlands began farming organically in 1996 and last year they began to harvest their first certified biodynamic crops. “Our fruit and vegetables are different because they are organic as well as biodynamic” explains owner Andrew Dennis. “So our products really satisfy the deep green
No16 aspirations of our customers.” Woodlands Organic Farm was the first in Lincolnshire to launch an innovative boxing scheme for the distribution of their produce. They deliver a selection of fruit, vegetables, meat or eggs within
“We now deliver 1,600 organic boxes a week. In the current economic climate, that’s very good” a 50 mile radius and use it to form direct links with their customers. “Our boxes have been a wonderful way of reconnecting to the public and helping to make a connection between town and country,” says Andrew. “We now deliver 1,600 boxes a week. In the current economic climate, that’s very good.” They offer a selection of boxes that change on a weekly basis according to what’s in season. “Each vegetable box contains what we call the three staples, which are fresh potatoes, onions and carrots and the rest is seasonal. Customers can also tailor the box according to what they would like.” And it’s not just delicious fresh food you’ll receive in the box; Woodlands Organic Farm believe in truly celebrating local organic food and so poetry from their resident writer is also included. “It’s great,” says Andrew. “We’re putting the culture back into agriculture.”
Stuffed chine Stuffed chine is a traditional dish famously produced in Boston, Lincolnshire. The chine is the pig’s backbone, which is wet cured for ten or more days depending on the size of the joint. The cure is made from salt, sugar, molasses or black treacle and spices mixed with beer and water. The joint is then salted for a week. Deep cuts are made into the joint before it’s stuffed with a seasonal mixture of
herbs, onions and leeks. It’s then rolled in cloth and simmered for several hours. Stuffed chine is traditionally eaten sliced and cold with a dash of vinegar. But how often is this unusual local delicacy actually eaten? “I think people like to hang onto the tradition of the dish,” says Chris Smith, manager of Lakings of Louth, a Lincolnshire butcher famed for its stuffed chine. “There’s a competition called the Lincolnshire Poacher where butchers submit their stuffed chine – we’ve won three times now.” It was originally a peasant dish made to keep over the winter when all meat was precious and nothing could be thrown away. “It really is an acquired taste,” explains Chris. And does he personally enjoy the ‘acquired taste’ of stuffed chine? “I really like it but it has a strong flavour. I don’t eat it every day.”
Wild venison Lincolnshire Wild Venison produces some of the best venison sausage, loins, burgers, mince and joints in the UK. Lincolnshire has a rising deer population, the fallow, muntjac and roe deer. The animal is stalked seasonally as part of a county-wide deer management programme. It’s then hung for at least a fortnight to draw out the best flavour before being cut into joints. Venison is a very nutritious and lean meat with a subtle gamey flavour. The lean nature of venison has been known to make it challenging to cook, but Lincolnshire Wild Venison insist that if handled properly, it can be a delicious and tender meat. If you are new to the meat however, they might recommend that you buy venison sausages, burgers or mince at first, as these are easier to cook. So what is it that sets aside Lincolnshire wild venison from the rest? “The appeal of this meat locks into the fact that people want to know where their food has come from,” explains Simon Williams from Lincolnshire Wild Venison. “Through our deer tagging system, we can trace back to exactly where the deer has been roaming. You know where the animal has been, you know it has roamed freely and lived its life and ended up as a fresh product on the plate. I believe you can taste the difference between that and farmed deer.”
Next issue: Gloucestershire. If you’d like to be part of it, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Pictures from top left to bottom right. The county produces high quality venison. Poacher cheese shelved and ready (courtesy of © Guardian); Myers and Sons of Horncastle; Sibsey Mill, Lincoln. The Jones brothers’ cheese has been used by celebrity chef James Martin (Simon is second from the right).
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Making the cut In recent years the British meat industry has taken a pounding, but some farmers and butchers have seen this as an opportunity to innovate. Mike Kielty investigates the movement led by chef Fergus Henderson
Fergus Henderson: “At the supermarket you’ll find those pink, anonymous, floppy bits of meat but a butcher understands the carcasses”. Photos by Laurie Fletcher
>Online: Mike Kielty tries his hand at Fergus Henderson’s recipe for chicken and pig’s trotter
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Outside Allen’s of Mayfair. Photo by Jonny Garrett. Pigs’ heads at The Ginger Pig. Photo By Rachel Smith
ll British. I never understand why you would look any further.” Fergus Henderson is uncompromising in his choice of meat. He runs St John restaurant in Smithfield, a leading business in the highly competitive London restaurant scene. Much of its success rests on the meat that it sources from farms across the UK. Fergus is not a fan of supermarket meat, the “squidgy pink plastic that has no name”. His trademark is to cook as many parts of a pig as possible: he called his first cookery book Nose to Tail Eating. His cookery relies on greattasting meat, and he gets this from farms in Gloucestershire, the Welsh borders and beyond. Fergus’s restaurant shows that British meat can propel a business to success. The past few years have been difficult for the meat trade. Before the recession, the number of butchers had declined from over 9,000 in 2000 to just over 6,500 in 2009. In 2010, sales of lamb and the more expensive cuts of beef are down on last year and supermarkets continue to maintain a hold over the majority of the market. Troubled times can often inspire innovation in business, and there are signs that the British independent meat industry is prospering by doing just that. Butchers and farm shops are marketing themselves on the web and at farmers’ markets, getting closer to their customers and cutting out the supermarket middleman. And their customers are still prepared to pay for top-quality meat, particularly if it’s produced locally and in an environmentally-friendly way. In 2005, Ardross Farm in Fife, Scotland, was struggling. Conventional farming was no longer providing enough income for the business to stay afloat. But the family – Nikki Pollock and her parents, Rob and Fiona – wanted to keep on farming. Their solution was to set up a farm shop. Five years on, they are still farming and the business is thriving. Shop manager Nikki says: “We started in complete ignorance and just went with what people were asking for, and what
people advised. It seems to have really helped.” The shop sells the beef produced on the farm, as well as a wide range of vegetables, cereals, barley and beans. It also sells venison, lamb and pork, which are brought in from farms in the local area. “The majority is produced by farming families,” says Nikki. “We wanted to showcase what British farming can do.” The experience of Ardross Farm reflects a wider change in the UK meat industry, in which consumers are increasingly turning to high-quality meat. A 2009 report by The English Beef & Lamb Executive (EBLEX) showed that sales of premiumquality beef across all retailers went up by almost eight per cent in the period, a larger rise than for the standard-priced versions. The report concluded that “British consumers are becoming more discerning and [are] looking for reassurance on provenance, food safety and animal welfare when it comes to buying meat.” Small retailers can take advantage of their lesser size. Roger Human runs Tavern Tasty Meats, a business based in north Norfolk, providing pies, sausages and other meat products, mainly from rare breeds. The business was started in the early 1990s, after Roger had retired and decided to develop his farming hobby. Eight years ago, he set up a shop at Swafield in Norfolk specialising in sausages and meat pies. The meat comes either from the adjoining farm, run by Roger’s partner in the business, or is brought in from the local abattoir. In the shop, the meat is made into sausages and pies or re-cut into bacon. A couple of years after opening the shop, Roger and his partner set up another shop in a nearby town centre. Despite enjoying initial success, it began to struggle in the economic downturn and had to close. But the business has bounced back and at the original shop in Swafield sales have soared. The turnover in 2009 was up by 18 per cent on the previous year. The turnover in January this year was 10 per cent up on the same month in 2009. Roger says:
“Squidgy bits of plasticy meat? No thanks”
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“Our out-of-town shop, which we’ve had for the last ten years, has gone from strength to strength.” He emphasises that people are prepared to pay more for quality meat. “There is a growing realisation that you get what you pay for, and there’s a certain trust that we have about supplying what the public think they’re getting.” Consumers know that meat from farm shops has been locally sourced and is likely to be great-tasting. This seems to make them more willing to pay more for it than they would from other retailers, like supermarkets. Roger says that while there is plenty of meat on the market there’s a question mark over where much of it comes from. The success of independent meat businesses even during the recession has impressed many experts. Michael Richardson, eastern regional manager of EBLEX, says that farm shops are largely “recession-proof”. They have greater control over their product than the supermarkets as the animal is usually bred and slaughtered under their supervision. This means that they can maintain the highest standards and produce high-quality, locallysourced meat. Michael says that farm shops “have something to offer that no supermarket can genuinely imitate”. The recession has hit the restaurant sector hard, as people decide to eat in to save costs. But the editor of the online meat trade journal www.meatinfo.co.uk, Ed Bedington, says that this may have helped food retailers, even those who sell relatively expensive cuts of meat. He explains that people still want to eat great-tasting meat, and the cost of buying it from a shop is almost always less than the cost of eating out. “People who were eating out more on a Friday or Saturday night for a meal instead perhaps go to the butcher and buy a nice steak and have it at home,” he explains. The farm shop business model also reduces ‘food miles’: the length that food has to travel from producer to consumer. This makes the whole process more eco -friendly. Where supermarkets do have an advantage is in having nationwide networks of stores that are well-known to consumers. Most people passing a Tesco or Sainsbury’s sign know what they will find inside, and this is not the same with small, local meat businesses. But independent businesses are finding innovative ways of connecting with their customers. One approach that has been successful over the last 15 years has been to sell their goods at farmers’ markets. Richard Lutwyche runs the Traditional Breeds Meat Market Company (TBMM), a co-operative that links farmers that rear rare breed cows, pigs and sheep with butchers that sell meat from the same breeds. He says that farmers’ markets show how small meat producers have become much more entrepreneurial than when TBMM started in the early 1990s. “There was no entrepreneurship in as far as actually growing your own stock, having it slaughtered and butchered. Then there’s going along to farmers’ markets and selling it direct to the public. That was totally unheard of. There’s a great deal more interaction now with farmers who produce their own food and deal directly with the public.” Of course, taste is still crucial. Richard says that commercial meat lacks succulence and flavour. By contrast, old-fashioned
breeds that grow slower also taste better. Some of the most popular pigs that TBMM deals with are from the Gloucestershire Old Spot breed, whose name derives from the dark spot they have on their skin. The TBMM system links farmers producing rare breed animals with nearby butchers. This not only cuts down on food miles but cuts out the wholesalers that operate between farmers and supermarkets, who drive up prices of supermarket meat. Farmers get paid substantially more in the TBMM system for producing animals: the mark-up is around 20 per cent for rare breed pigs compared to more common breeds. But because the wholesalers and supermarkets are cut out of the process, the end price for consumers is often equal to the prices of meat on the supermarket shelves. Another increasingly important way that meat businesses are getting closer to their customers is through the internet. Allen’s of Mayfair has been providing the finest cuts of meat to West London for over 185 years. Three years ago it hit financial difficulties and new owners came in to modernise the business. At first, changes were mainly practical, such as installing refrigerators to preserve the meat. In November, Allen’s set up a new website, www.allensofmayfair.co.uk, allowing it to send its products almost anywhere in the UK. The shop front is still similar to how it looked in Victorian times, with its tiled walls and carcasses hanging in the window. But the business now employs 18 people, some to work on deliveries and others as office staff. The website was an immediate success, with strong sales over the Christmas period. Glen Kirton, general manager at Allen’s, has been a butcher for over 30 years. “The business is thriving at the moment,” he says. “Obviously, we hope in the future it’s just going to build and build.” Fergus Henderson, sitting in his restaurant in Smithfield, would be delighted if more butchers were successful. He laments the way that they have declined, and that supermarkets now dominate the British meat trade. “At the supermarket you’ll find those pink, anonymous, floppy bits of meat with no bone, but a butcher understands the carcasses: they’ve hung them, they know where they come from.” It is clear that in the near future, supermarkets will continue to dominate the meat market. Their convenience, price and reputation make them highly attractive to the bulk of shoppers. Yet there is a growing niche market that small meat businesses can exploit. More and more consumers are prepared to pay for local food that tastes good. They prefer the homely ambience of farm shops and butchers, which is so different to the factorylike atmosphere of many big chain supermarkets. Fergus started the St John restaurant in 1994 along with a friend, Trevor Gulliver. The building had once been a smokehouse for meat from the nearby Smithfield market. But when this tradition ended in the 1960s, the building fell into disrepair. Visit it now, and you will see a thriving restaurant. This is thanks to Fergus’ cooking, but also to the British meat he uses. The success of this restaurant indicates that there is a real desire for locally sourced meat and it signals a period of rejuvenation and growth for the independent British meat trade.
“There’s more interaction now with farmers who produce their own food and deal directly with the public.”
>Online: Mike Kielty tries his hand at Fergus Henderson’s recipe for chicken and pig’s trotter
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Michael Gale of Allenâ€™s of Mayfair saws through pork ribs. Photo by Jonny Garrett
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Perry Bartlett in the hanging room, before teaching Rachel how to saw up a hulk of beef. Photos by Rachel Smith
Rachel Smith takes a class in the art of butchery at the award-winning Ginger Pig
motley group are assembled at The Ginger Pig on a Tuesday evening, ready for a lesson in butchery. Cooking is no longer just preparing something to eat. It’s a post-work creative outlet, a passion, a grass roots movement that is changing the food industry. As everyone puts on the white laboratory coats provided, I explore the hanging room. Everything is as pristine as can be expected from a London free range food shop. Even the small pools of blood beneath the hanging meat look like they are painted on the floor. Inside the hanging room, animal carcasses dangle off enormous hooks. The room looks like an empty gym with punch bags suspended from the ceiling. I push one of the carcasses. It swings in a therapeutic pendulum movement. Pigs’ faces grin at me from one shelf, and a headless side of beef the size of a sumo wrestler sits in the corner. The class starts with a 40-minute lecture where we are told about the Ginger Pig’s six Yorkshire farms which supply the London chain of butchers. As I am here for the beef class, I learn about different cattle breeds, hanging, what constitutes organic meat, and what makes different cuts of beef more tender than others. After the theory lesson, two butchers lug out half a cow, and heave it across two tables. The beef has been hung for 40 days and the outer layer is a dark gamey colour. When Perry Bartlett, the butchery teacher, slices a slither off the dark, slightly fuzzy layer, crimson moist flesh is revealed underneath. We work our way through the hulk of meat. Perry provides a commentary, showing where to insert the knife, how to cook
the steaks, and which bits you should ask butchers to remove before it’s slapped on the scales. Each student is invited to tackle a different cut under his instruction. It’s my turn. I’m handed an enormous knife and told to cut round the side of the bone. The first stab, I hit bone. A second incision, slightly to the side. Still bone. The third incision, the blade hits the bone, and then slides into the yielding flesh to the side. Perry hands me a hacksaw. “This is where you need to cut.” I start sawing. The teeth of the hacksaw keep getting stuck. I’m pressing down too hard. After a few jagged motions, I stop applying so much pressure, and the sawing becomes freer. My bicep starts to burn and I can feel sweat at the bottom of my back. Then in one swift motion the blade hacks through the bone. I have sawed up my first cow. At the end of the class, everyone is given a piece of meat, and is instructed how to cut and truss up a côte de boeuf. The sound of sawing resonates round the empty shop, then the scratching of knives scraping the meat off the bones. Everyone is engrossed in their work. At the end of the session the class enjoys a glass of Chablis together. As we reflect triumphantly on our handiwork, I am sure I’m not the only one contemplating investing in my own set of butchery knives. The Ginger Pig butchery classes are held at Moxon Street, Marylebone, from Monday to Friday. All butchery classes are £125. Choose from beef, pork, lamb and sausage making classes.
>Online: Rachel Smith’s photo essay on The Ginger Pig
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The problem with organic With decreasing sales and recent bad publicity, is the organic food movement losing momentum? Sarah Simpson investigates
Organic food was once regarded the preserve of the upper crust, with poster boys like Prince Charles fighting for the cause. Now it’s a billion pound industry and it seems that the message has reached the masses. But as the nation goes wild for it, the great organic success story is beginning to unravel. Recent revelations suggest that it may not be as healthy, safe and nutritious as its champions claim. Food producers incur considerable costs getting those seven-letters stamped on their food packets. But could organic certification just be an expensive status symbol? Last month Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, announced that sales in organic foodstuffs have declined by 13 to 14 per cent over the past year. This followed a tough year in 2008 when UK sales of organic products only increased by 1.7 per cent. Given the 22 per cent increase in 2007, it’s clear that organic sales were hit hard by the economic downturn.
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The industry’s halo was further dulled last September when Neil Stansfield, director of One Food Ltd, was jailed for 27 months for repackaging cheap supermarket food and selling it as organic. The £500,000 scam went undiscovered for five years and fooled organic
“We are afraid to use ‘the O word’ now. You have to be careful” enthusiasts into buying salmon from Waitrose at a mark-up of £31. One Food Ltd even resold Tesco pork pies to Fortnum & Mason. So what makes a product organic? As it’s a legal term, producers are subject to strict regulations and food cannot be marketed as
organic without approval from a certification body. There are nine bodies in the UK and Ireland who ensure that companies adhere to their strict standards. This regulation comes from European legislation on organic production. It insists that 95 per cent of a product’s ingredients must be certified as organic. The producer is subject to regular inspection by the certification body to ensure that the standards are maintained. Producers are also given comprehensive guidelines on pesticides, farming methods and animal welfare. The Soil Association claims to be the UK’s most trusted licensor of organic certification, with over 80 per cent of organic products in Britain carrying the Soil Association symbol. The Association’s standards are higher than the EU regulations, and they offer dedicated certification officers, support and a trusted symbol. But such stringent standards are preserved at a high price. The application fee is currently £199
and producers could incur annual costs of £500. This is all before VAT and service charges. The process of converting to organic can also take up to three years. Terence Laheney, director of Pepperfield Farm Produce, the RSPCA’s Most Ethical Farm Retailer 2008, said: “I was interested in organic certification but when I enquired I got a quote of around £480. You have to feed your animals only organic feed, which is very expensive; not many farmers can afford to do that.” He, like many small growers and producers, has felt the effect of the strict regulations. He said: “We are afraid to use the ‘O’ word now. You have to be careful how you describe your produce.” Food that isn’t certified as organic can also be produced to high standards, and there are alternative schemes available to promote the ethical practices used in production. The interests of smaller-scale growers and farmers who use natural growing methods are being championed by groups such as the Wholesome Food Association (WFA). The Association was founded 10 years ago in Devon by a group of local growers. They wanted to reflect their ideals and growing practices, without incurring the organic certification fees. The WFA issues a symbol based largely on trust and peer-to-peer inspection, at a much more stomachable £27 a year. WFA director Sky McCain deals with small-scale food growers and producers on a daily basis. There is often the temptation to use the word ‘organic’ in describing their produce because it embodies the natural processes and methods they use. But he agreed that “it would be unethical to get any leverage from the term” without forking out for organic certification. Yet he does believe that the strictures and expenses of the organic certification process “brought bureaucracy into the organic movement, disenfranchising the small grower.” “We don’t issue a thick book of regulations. It’s absurd to think that one book can apply to all growers.
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The certifications have given people the impression that unless it says ‘organic’ on the packet then it’s trash.” Some organic devotees claim that they buy the produce as a healthy alternative to conventional food. In an effort to clarify what health benefits are gained from ‘going organic’, a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine analysed 162 reports that compared organic and non-organic produce over a period spanning 50 years from 1958. The report, published in September, found that there was no evidence of a difference in nutritional quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. Alan Dangour, who led the research, commented: “There may be other reasons for buying organic food but we can clearly say that there is no
“People think that unless it says ‘organic’ on the packet, then it’s trash” evidence of nutritional superiority in organic food.” Clio Turton, spokeswoman for the Soil Association has criticised the findings. She said: “The report ignored results from a major EU-funded study which looks at organic and non-organic products. This study found higher levels of nutritionally desirable compounds such as antioxidants and vitamins in organic. Essential fatty acids were up to 60 per cent higher in organic milk and dairy products, and Vitamin C levels were up to 90 per cent higher in leafy vegetables and fruits. The report also failed to address the long-term effects of pesticides on human health.” The environmental reasons for buying organic alone are often enough for the consumer. But one
key issue lies in the fact that many organic certification bodies do not factor in the ‘food miles’ the products have incurred during production. Food miles are the distance food travels from field to plate, and are a means of indicating the environmental impact of the food we eat. The Soil Association reported that less than one per cent of imported organic food is air freighted, yet this still makes up 11 per cent of the carbon emissions from UK food distribution. This goes some way to discount all the supposed environmental benefits that proorganic bodies claim. Terence Laheney said: “People don’t realise that organic food can clock up lots of air miles, and this can be more damaging to the environment. I believe people are increasingly aware that it’s important that food is local as well as natural.” Then there are issues relating to the superior taste of organic goods. The Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2009 revealed that 31 per cent of survey respondents believed the quality and taste were paramount factors in buying organic. But which food tastes better is often simply down to personal preference. Organic swindler Neil Stansfield spoke to his local paper before his exploits were uncovered. Commenting on the success of One Food Ltd, he said: “Fortnum & Mason sampled our product and found it to be the best in the UK.” If Fortnum & Mason can’t spot the difference between organic and non-organic, what chance has the humble consumer? Only once the dust has settled on the recession can we tell if this year’s dip in organic sales is here to stay. As Laheney predicts, it may only be a matter of time before people buy more locally-sourced food instead. No one can deny that organic laws were built on a noble premise. Yet organic would be a much more appealing prospect for both producers and buyers alike without the unaffordable overheads and with more of a commitment towards reducing food miles.
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A taste of the past Independent food and drink is flourishing across London’s farmers’ markets and gentrified east end boroughs. But eating establishments have long been the backbone of the capital’s diverse communities. Photographer Gabrielle Motola meets the faces behind some of the longest-standing businesses
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Beigel Bakery, Brick Lane. Owner Sammy Minzly, 74. “We came over from Israel 45 years ago. We now make over 3,000 bagels a day - business is good. Not a lot of people know that the type of bagels we make traditionally come from Russia and Poland – not Israel.”
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Allens of Mayfair. Butcher Glen Kircon, 50. (right) “It’s important to buy from independent butchers; supermarket quality is never the same. We only source our meat from British farmers because we know they’re the best in the world. It’s all about how much you care about your livestock. Allens has been trading for 187 years.”
Manzes Pie ‘n’ Mash, Southwark. Waitress, Kerry Thornton, 20. “This place has been here since 1902 and it’s still in the family. Traditional food is important to me. I love pie and mash but unfortunately not the eels. We have very loyal customers. Some have been coming here for 50 years or more.”
>Online: visit www.gabriellemotola.com for more images
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E. Pellicci Cafe, Bethnal Green. Owner Anna Pellicci, 37. “My Grandfather came over from Tuscany in 1914 and set up this cafe. It’s still in the family. It has a colourful history and equally colourful customers. The Kray twins used to come here. But they were local lads so never caused any trouble.”
Rules Restaurant, Covent Garden. Ricky McMenemy, 52. (Waiter Lorenzo pictured) “We opened in 1798. The founder Thomas Rule believed in serving traditional British fare. Guests have included Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray and Graham Greene. Its always been a green room for the artistic and literary set.”
] 26/03/2010 11:41:01
Newlyn harbour in west Cornwall is Englandâ€™s largest fishing port. All photos by Estella Shardlow
Estella Shardlow meets the Cornish fishermen caught in the crossfire between mega-trawlers and environmentalists
>Online: Cadgwith photo essay
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npredictability and struggle have always been part of life for fishermen. “If you look at the lifestyle, it’s mostly the same job as it has been for thousands of years,” says Nathan de Rozarieux, chief executive of fisheries charity Seafood Cornwall. “Except now there are more challenges than ever before.” One of the biggest challenges at the moment is surviving the negative publicity levelled at the fishing industry. Documentaries such as the BBC’s ‘Britain’s Really Disgusting Food: Fish’ aired in January and the feature film The End of the Line, based on the book by Charles Clover, revealed the ugly truth about certain parts of the fishing industry. The facts are shocking: half of the world’s catch is caught by one per cent of its fishing fleet and the biggest trawling net is large enough to hold thirteen Boeing 747s. But news of dangerously depleted fish stocks and damaged sea habitats hasn’t just affected the fleets that practice these methods. Small-scale fishermen are also suffering the consequences. In the tiny Cornish port of Cadgwith the fishermen are bracing themselves for bad weather. They’ve hauled the boats up to the beach and pulled blue tarpaulin over the smaller vessels. Today we’ve been lucky with clear skies and sunshine but a storm is forecast for tomorrow, and the men peer at the grey clouds beginning to appear over the horizon. This is just one of the communities that has been dragged into the furore surrounding the industrial trawling companies. Two key reefs near Cadgwith will soon be certified Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). At the moment, super-size crabbers and scallop dredgers come into these areas, causing damage to marine habitats by dragging heavy fishing gear across the seabed. Yet making these reefs absolute ‘no-take zones’ means all forms of fishing will be barred. With 49 ports in the county employing over 4,000 people, the talk of restrictions on where and how much one can fish is cause for concern. Just eight commercial boats run from Cadgwith and the way these men fish – with pots, small nets or handlines – has largely stayed the same for generations. John Trewin has fished in Cadgwith bay for 20 years. Rust cracks across the stern of his 25-foot vessel, Silver Queen, and pink and orange buoys are tied to its railings like bunches of balloons. Crabbing pots, ropes and plastic tubs are strewn across the deck. This is his livelihood, and he’s frustrated at being dragged into the controversy over the practices of large trawling companies. “The media generally shows the trawlers but we’re being tarred with the same brush. The mood here is very downbeat. For hundreds of years people have been fishing here in the same way and suddenly we’re being imposed upon and we’ve got no control over it.” David Muirhead, secretary of the South West Handline
Fishermen Association, warns that punishing small-scale fishermen for the damage done by the trawlers would be “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. He says: “People need to understand there’s the world of difference between us and those companies.” David is promoting handline fishing as a viable compromise between environmental and economic concerns. “You couldn’t find a better way to catch fish. It’s very eco-friendly as you don’t use much fuel and you touch a minute percentage of the actual stock,” says David. In what he calls their “hook to plate” ethos, each of the 150 registered handline fishermen tags their catch, so the origin and age of the fish is easily traceable for consumers, restaurant-owners and retailers. Handlining is also the cheapest way to fish: “You can go out hand lining for £20 whereas you’re talking £5,000 just to kit out a small boat with pots.” Mackerel, sea bass and pollock are all caught off the coast of Cornwall from April to September using this method. When it comes to selling his catch, David says strong connections between local businesses are vital. Newlyn, Cornwall’s biggest port, is 20 miles along the coast, and very close to the tourist hub of Penzance. Both of these offer struggling fishermen a wealth of trading opportunities. David’s long-standing links with a few key fishmongers in Newlyn and Falmouth ensures both the demand and prices for his fish are stable. “It’s about catching small amounts of fish for a niche market. I sell mackerel to the same shop I was selling to when I was 17. I catch it at 6am and by 10am it’s on the slab in Newlyn market. By the afternoon it’s out in the shop.” For Kier Meikle, proprietor and head chef at the Navy Inn in Penzance, sourcing locally-caught fish is an integral part of his business. “Seafood is 70 per cent of our menu and we only buy from Newlyn,” he explains. “If the produce isn’t there, I’d rather close for the day than use a lesser product. For me, it’s all about the flavour, and of course I also like to support local fishermen.” Local merchants and restaurateurs can take advantage of the bustling fish market in Newlyn to buy a superior product with a negligible carbon footprint. Unsurprisingly, the fishermen have a strong aversion to supermarket fish: “Their fish is just old. It’s bland and often chemically dyed. The haddock is bright yellow with the junk,” John says. By offering very low prices on imported or farmed fish, supermarkets have made fishmongers a rarer sight in most British towns and cities. But a number of Cornish fishmongers now operate mail order next-day deliveries, making it possible for businesses and consumers to get fresh, sustainably-caught fish regardless of where they are. Another potential boost for the community will be the
“There’s a strong aversion to supermarket fish in this area”
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John Trewin has fished in the area for 20 years and says spirits are low amongst Cadgwith Bay fishermen.
>Online: Cadgwith photo essay
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No 33 remodelling of Newlyn harbour. In February, the European Fisheries Fund awarded the project a £2.3 million grant and plans include the installation of an electronic auction board to allow merchants to bid for fresh fish via the internet. It is hoped this will attract more British buyers from beyond West Cornwall and rival the markets in Plymouth and Falmouth. Now it’s April and the Cornish mackerel and sea bass seasons have just begun. Newlyn and Penzance are
“We’re catching small amounts of fish for a niche market. I catch it at 6am, by 10am it’s on the slab” humming with tourists once again, and the fishermen hope things will soon look up. Many are praying that the clashes between large-scale operators and environmentalists won’t drag them under. The key to their survival will be exploiting trading links within the local community and raising the profile of handline fishing as an ethical and cost-cutting alternative. Consumers and retailers will play a key role in salvaging these communities. Demanding fresh fish caught sustainably in British waters and buying from companies that support small-scale fishermen will make all the difference.
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Suppliers and useful organisations Fresh Cornish fish are available across the UK thanks to local fishmongers operating mail order services. The day’s catch is dispatched in ice-packed boxes and is delivered overnight. For wholesale, contact: Trelawney Fish www.cornishfishonline.com W. Harvey & Sons: www.crabmeat.co.uk Wing of St Mawnes: www.wingofstmawes.co.uk The Cornish Smokehouse: www.cornishcuisine.co.uk Pengelly’s Fishmonger 01579 340777 The South West Handline Fishermen’s Association The SWHF was set up 20 years ago and now represents 150 handline fishermen in Cornwall. Their site can be used by anyone in the supply chain and includes a tagging scheme for hook to plate tracing. www.linecaught.org.uk Seafood Cornwall Seafood Cornwall advises businesses involved in the processing or retail of Cornish fish on best practice. They also run a training school with courses for fishermen, fishmongers and caterers. www.seafoodcornwall.org.uk
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In the heat of the moment
From olives in Devon to vineyards in Sussex, traditional Mediterranean crops are now flourishing in Britain. Jessica Blunden explores how food and wine producers are making the most of a shifting climate
Three Choirs Vineyards, Gloucestershire
he view from the terracotta-roofed farmhouse looks out onto hills lined with rows of green vines. The sun beats down on clusters of grapes budding from the vines. In the winery, huge gleaming vats tower over crates filled with bottles of wine and oak barrels line the wall. But this isnâ€™t Provence, this is a British vineyard. All across Southern England, farmers are growing crops that are traditionally found in the Mediterranean.
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A changing climate is giving farmers the chance to forge a very different agricultural landscape. The success of British vineyards and tea estates shows that there is a real alternative to traditional crops. Farmers are experiencing earlier growing seasons, more frequent droughts and extreme weather conditions. Farming Futures, a body set up by the Government to advise farmers how to handle climate change, carried out a survey
Climate change means Britain is now warm enough to harvest olives. ©Guardian
in September 2008 and found that half of the 479 farmers surveyed in England said climate change was starting to affect their land. In the same survey, 63 per cent of farmers thought they would be affected by climate change over the next 10 years. Green campaigners have warned that rising temperatures could give England a climate more like southern France within the next 100 years. If these forecasts are right, the warmer climate would let farmers expand into different areas of food production. Environmental consultant Mark Diacono was one of the first in this country to take advantage of the changing climate. A pioneer in exotic food production, he owns Otter Farm in Devon, the UK’s only ‘climate change farm’. Mark set it up five years ago when he wanted to plant mulberry trees. The farm now grows olives, grapes, pecans and even Szechuan peppers. Mark hopes to inspire food producers to explore unusual new crops: “You need to have someone like me to show people you can overcome the traditional limitations of climate. People will then follow my lead.” Mark took care to source varieties that could cope with Devon’s weather. He chose late-flowering varieties so their blossoms wouldn’t be damaged by cold weather. His olive trees were sourced from Maremma in Tuscany, where rain, snow and frost are not uncommon. He insists that climate change isn’t just about growing foreign plants. Mark wants to reintroduce forgotten fruits like mulberries, medlars (an apple-like fruit eaten at the point of rotting) and quinces. “We’re trying to bring back these forgotten flavours, expand the domestic taste spectrum and reacquaint
ourselves with some truly delicious food,” he says. Mark is adamant that all food remains under the farm’s own label, he refuses to sell to supermarkets due to his low carbon ethos. All of Otter Farm’s produce is sold locally at the River Cottage, run by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Particular successes on the farm have been the Szechuan peppercorns, apricots and peaches. Here is Mark’s advice for aspiring food producers: “Plant
“British wine is fast losing the stigma that it’s inferior to French and New World wines” something nobody ever has before. Even if you think it won’t work, you’ll get publicity and you’ll immediately sell everything else that you grow.” Although home-grown vineyards weren’t set up solely to take advantage of climate change, they are flourishing. There are now 400 commercial wine growers in England and Wales, most of which are in southern England where the warm climate and chalky soils are similar to the Champagne region of France. British wine’s success is due to the major financial investment that has occurred over the past fifteen years. Some would say the British wine industry is merely
>Online: video of wine tasting at Three Choirs
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Climate change in figures
£30m 239 1.3m
per year is spent by Local Authorities to deal with the effects of soil erosion on roads and footpaths
of 479 farmers surveyed have already changed their practises due to climate change hectares of farmland are within flood plains, including half of the UK’s most productive land
Grape picking in the UK sun © Chapel Downs
reclaiming its heritage. The Romans had cultivated vines in Britain when the climate was relatively mild. The champagne-making process began with a West Country scientist called Charles Merrett. Records show that he devised two techniques fundamental to making champagne 30 years before Dom Pérignon. Founded in 1973 as a small fruit farm, The Three Choirs Vineyards in Gloucestershire now produces around 250,000 bottles per year. It swept the board at the English & Welsh Wine of the Year awards 2008, with winemaker Martin Fowke and his Siegerrebe 2006 winning the top prizes. Spokeswoman Jo Kelly admits the first batch of vines was an “experiment” and if it hadn’t been for a particularly warm summer in 1976 the vineyard may never have existed. It’s still a family-owned business that sells onsite and to local, independent shops. Crunching along the white gravel path through the vines, Jo explains that it’s the vineyard’s microclimate that allows them to grow vines successfully. The vineyard is in a valley, giving it a warmer temperature, lower rainfall and has south-facing slopes and free-draining sandstone soil. Three Choirs has over 70 acres of vines and its own winery. It also bottles the grapes of 90 other vineyards from England and Wales that would otherwise have no means to produce it. Wine-making is an expensive business. One of the huge gleaming metal vats in Three Choirs’ winery cost around £60,000. the art of barrel making died out in James I’s reign, so the imported French oak barrels that store the wine cost between £400 and £600. But Jo says the biggest expense is tax. “We have to pay £1.65 customs and excise per bottle produced. You have to
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per hectare can be saved by farmers with good soil management
of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions are contributed by land use and agriculture
factor that in as well as a baseline of growing costs, starting costs and transport.” Small operators are allowed to produce 500 litres of wine for free, but it must only be for their own consumption. Despite the costs, Three Choirs is trying to dispel British wine’s reputation for being expensive. Everything is grown and bottled on site, with prices starting at around £6 per bottle. Admittedly, the last few harvests have been poor. The years 2007 and 2008 saw woefully small yields of 75 and 80 tonnes due to flooding and rain. Last year saw a more respectable 200 tonnes with a later harvest, but its winemakers are desperate for a good summer to build up reserves. The good news is that British wine is fast losing the stigma that it’s inferior to French and New World wines. Jo says that French and Spanish tourists are often shocked at the high quality of English wine. “So many people are unaware of how good it is. We’re coming into our own, as long as we can grow the grape.” British producers are also getting much better at making sparkling wine. The Nyetimber Estate in West Sussex achieved international success at the Bollicine Del Mondo competition in Italy. Its Classic Cuvée 2003 was crowned champion of worldwide sparkling wines. Nyetimber says that the secret to their success is the attention to detail as well as working with experts. At 350 acres, it’s currently the largest estate in the UK, with plans to expand, and is benefiting from an earlier and extending growing season. Last year was an excellent harvest for them (as good as 2003) and they hope to recapture the Cuvée’s success. Nyetimber’s chief executive Eric Heerema warns that it should not be seen by farmers as another choice for crop diversification: “It’s a most complicated and money intensive agricultural activity. It requires expert advice and planning in advance, as well as a long term commitment.” The biggest challenges facing Nyetimber are changing consumer perception about British wine and raising the company’s profile is. They will be producing 500,000 bottles from the 2009 harvest and aiming for one million in the future. Marketing manager Lou Bushell says: “Our small profile means many consumers haven’t heard about us. We need to get the brand out there; winning awards is great for this. In the future
The Three Choirs vineyard at the height of summer
we want to export our produce and compete abroad.” Despite our renowned love for a cuppa, the production of English tea has been relatively minimal. The Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall is the UK’s first tea plantation. Like Nyetimber, brand extension is the Tregothnan’s main priority. A strong brand identity is as important as the product. Jonathon Jones, a spokesman for the company, says that tea will be the next big food revolution to hit England. “Tea is starting to go through the same revolution coffee did 20 years ago and it’s coinciding with food provenance awareness. As we’re the first outdoor growers of it in the UK we can take advantage of its massive potential.” The estate has grown camellias for over 200 years, and uses the plant’s leaves and leaf buds to make tea. The temperate climate, acidic soil and location far away from damaging sea breezes makes Tregothnan an ideal environment to grow tea. “The market is there for it to spread nationwide,” says Jonathon. There has been a surge in people buying tea and Tregothnan is happy to share its expertise. Jonathon believes that climate change can overall only be a good thing for the British tea industry, although he warns much of Britain’s soil will be too acidic for its growth. While in the short term there are opportunities for farmers to capitalise on climate change, there are greater issues at stake. It could bring a host of potential problems for farmers. Aside
“Climate change will alter the way we grow food. It’s a wake up call for society” from extremes of weather, drought and soil deficit, the security of crops against pests and diseases will be a fundamental issue for farmers. William Frazer, Farming Futures project administrator, says: “A changing climate could suit different pests and diseases. A longer season could enable different generations to breed throughout it and create species that would survive the winter.” Despite such warnings, many business owners have already spotted the fresh opportunities that come with warmer temperatures and longer seasons. Climate change will force the food industry to adapt over the next few decades, but the question is “by how much?” As environmental consultant Mark Diacono says: “Climate change will alter the basic way we grow food. We can start to produce food for local markets and create a more sustainable food culture. It’s going to act as a wake-up call for society.”
Otter Farm: www.otterfarm.co.uk Three Choirs Vineyards: www.three-choirs-vineyards.co.uk Nyetimber Ltd: www.nyetimber.com Tregothnan Tea Estate: www.tregothnan.co.uk >Online: video of wine tasting at Three Choirs
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Willie spills the beans With his recycled machinery in a converted chicken shed, Willie Harcourt-Cooze is changing the face of luxury chocolate. Dolly Alderton and India Sturgis discover the business behind the man
hoever said that men can’t multitask has never met Willie Harcourt-Cooze. He picks us up in his grubby white Volvo; its seats are covered in cacao shells and the earthy smell of chocolate is dizzying. As he careers down the Devon country roads with the wild abandon of a cantering horse, he tells us about his new book The Chocolate Bible. Occasionally he stops to answer his ever-bleeping Blackberry and bark into his earpiece: “Ya. Ya. Well, just get Marco to call me back” (Pierre White that is, an old chum from his teens). Five minutes with the eccentric chocolatier is enough to realise the key to his success. A relentless energy and passion for his product has propelled Willie from being a tiny one-man business to one of Britain’s premier independent chocolate producers. Willie’s chocolate dream began 17 years ago. He quit his job as partner in 41 Beak Street, a London private members’ club, and bought a cacao farm in Venezuela. Two television shows, one published book and a converted chicken shed factory later, Willie is establishing himself as the man to change the British perception of chocolate. He now stocks nine varieties of his trademark 100% Venezuelan Black cooking cacao and five flavours of sweeter bars in some of Britain’s most famous food retailers, including Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Waitrose. So what sets Willie’s chocolate apart from anything else in the market? Apart from being the first man in Britain to farm and produce his chocolate from ‘bean to bar’, he had a vision for chocolate that was unique. He wanted it to be more than just confectionary and show people it could also be used as an ingredient in everyday cooking. And so his cylindershaped blocks of chocolate were born. “It’s not a new idea,” he explains. “Chocolate started its life as a savoury food when it was introduced 500 years ago. Over here people hadn’t realised
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its potential, then I came along and tried to fill a niche in the market.” And fill it he did. Willie’s recipes for cacao-infused risottos, pork and fried eggs awoke people to a new way of cooking and his cacao flew off the shelves. With the demand for his product growing, Willie expanded the business and started producing chocolate bars. The five types he launched each have a distinct “forgotten flavour” depending on the bean used. Willie’s business is the first in Britain to promote chocolate as both a sweet and savoury cooking ingredient. His premium beans face little or no competition from other chocolate companies, something he’d like to see change: “More people doing what I’m doing would be great,” he says. “The chocolate industry is remarkably bitchy and protective, but I really think it would be great for other people to be inspired by what I do and do it themselves. There’s definitely space in the market for others.” The white Volvo pulls up alongside his factory in Tiverton, a long rural barn painted buttermilk yellow. As we walk through the mud and into the barn, we pass underneath a large wobbly neon green sign that reads: ‘Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory’. He laughs, sheepishly. “That was from one of the television shows.” We are greeted by a rich smell of cacao and the warm whirr from the antiquated brass machines. Willie flits from job to job, booming loudly over the cogs of his contraptions. “You must try this!” he bellows and thrusts two spoons in our hands. “Have some new Cuban beans.” We dip our spoons into a bowl of thick brown liquid and taste a chocolate like no other – warm, rich, smoky and delicious. It’s clear that Willie’s a man dedicated to mucking in and working hard, but he admits that some of his success has been
Fresh pods containing cacao beans © Willie’s Cacao
No42 down to luck. He heard about the cacao farm in Choroni, Venezuela purely by chance: “I was on holiday and lying on a beach. The guy who rented out the umbrellas struck up a conversation and told us about a farm for sale,” he says. “The next day we found ourselves bundling into an old Toyota and driving up to the farm. We crossed over through the plantation, through the trees and up into the collection of houses and that was it.” Living off the land is something Willie experienced when he was a child and this influenced his decision to move to Venezuela. He grew up on a small island off the west coast of Ireland where his family led a self-sufficient life. “It was a utopian lifestyle,” Willie reminisces. “We grew wheat, barley and oats. We had bees for honey and goats for cheese. When I saw the farm in Venezuela I thought, for a small amount of money, we could change our lifestyle completely. The cacao farm was my Ireland, really.” Given that the 100% Venezuelan Black cylinders were such a novel product, Willie knew he needed to successfully trial
“When I saw the farm in Venezuela I thought, for a small amount of money, we could change our lifestyle completely” his chocolate in the market before beginning production. In classic Willie style he coerced an eclectic mix of friends into trialling the bars. These included a few chefs; friends with upmarket delis; a neighbour who owned the Chocolate Society (a confectionary shop in London); and a girl who sold out of the back of a converted ice cream van in Brick Lane. “Whatever business ideas you’ve got, you have to bounce them off your friends,” he explains. The bars sold well and a more selfassured Willie presented a business plan on a small Excel sheet to his bank manager. While making the prototype bars in Venezuela, Willie decided to film the process in the hope of selling the footage to a television company. Almost a year later the eight hours of tape were edited down to six minutes which were immediately snapped up by Channel 4, who commissioned a documentary: ‘Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory’. The show was followed by a second in 2009 called ‘Willie’s Chocolate Revolution: Raising the Bar’. This was a huge boost: “Television is a powerful medium. People are much more aware of the chocolate process because of that program. If I hadn’t got the series I probably wouldn’t have been able to compete at all.” Producing Willie’s cacao is a delicate process. Firstly the cacao beans are lightly roasted before being smashed by a winnower. The cacao kernels (nibs) drop onto a vibrating table that grades them by size. The nibs are ground between granite stones, producing a course liquid, and then refined between rollers. Next the cocoa mass is gently warmed and sloshed about by large pistons. This is called conching which makes it smoother and less bitter. Lastly, the chocolate gets tempered to give it shine and snap. Inside his factory, the conching machine looms before us like a copper-coloured monster. At the front are two giant pistons Willie and his 1920s conching machine. Photo by India Sturgis
>Online: listen to a podcast of Willie discussing Kraft takeover and starting up his business
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No43 and behind, ribbed plastic extractor tubes dangle like spider’s legs. Willie delves two fingers down beside a resting roller, swipes at some chocolate residue and smacks it into his mouth. His eyes close momentarily before he demands we follow suit. Dutifully, we thrust our fingers in. “That’s my Venezuelan 72,” he says, as though announcing his first born. He offers us some bars to try. First, the Madagascan 71 Sambirano Superior which has a sharp aftertaste, reminiscent of berries. Then we sample the Venezuela 72 Hacienda Las Trincheras which has a totally different flavour, tasting rich and nutty. “Cacao really is like wine,” says Willie. “I’ve bought different beans from different places in the world and their natural flavours are reflected in the bars.” Resourcefulness and unfailing confidence have been fundamental to Willie’s success. His initial budget was near zero despite his mother lending him £10,000 on top of a loan from the bank “that kept running out”. He refuses to say exactly how much he borrowed from the bank, but does give this advice: “The smaller the budget, the better you are because you have to be inventive and get things done without spending a lot of money. If you’re clever, you can get started for as little as £20,000.” Like someone scouring a salvage yard for a cheap but perfect fireplace, Willie has sought out quirky, second-hand machinery. The factory is a bizarre mix of turn-of-the-century equipment, ancient roasters sourced from French bakeries, internet finds and even things that could be easily mistaken for junk. “When you start to invest in commercial machines you are talking vast sums of money. I’m always looking for alternatives.” One of these was a vast cooler given to him by Arthur Westbrook who invented the one-shot depositor. This is the method responsible for depositing soft centres inside confectionary such as creme eggs. Willie heard Westbrook was retiring and selling off machinery so he rushed to his Scottish factory. On arrival everything had been sold apart from a rusty cooler lying in the dirt. Allegedly Westbrook’s daughter tried to prevent Willie taking it, writing it off as a piece of rubbish, but Westbrook insisted it was enough to get him going: “He was right. If you have a business you just need to get it going to show it works. There’s no point spending a lot of money.” But Willie admits that second-hand equipment can be a production nightmare. “The older ones constantly break down.” Luckily, this one-man-chocolate machine has learnt to repair most faults himself. “We fix almost everything ourselves. I’ve always been handy”, he flashes a wry smile before gallivanting over to another machine. “This yellow machine purees almonds. It looked so sexy that I had to have it. Look at the curves.” Sadly, it’s time to leave and Willie bustles us in to one last room. This is perhaps the only part of the factory that bears any semblance to Willie Wonka’s wonderland. A clean, white room is stacked almost to the ceiling with little, white oblong boxes. Many have been ripped open and parts of the contents seized. Metallic gold wrappers litter the floor and someone with ‘Mike’ written on the back of his shirt is foraging about the floor with a clipboard. Willie thrusts a box into our hands and grins like a naughty school boy. He has a smear of brown across his cheek: “We’re all chocoholics round here.” For information on stocking Willie’s products email email@example.com
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The finished product. Photo by India Sturgis
Chocolate nation In January 2009, British chocolate faced some big changes. After two bids, it was announced that Cadbury would be purchased by Kraft for around £11.5 billion. However, the British chocolate industry is far from dead – on the contrary, it seems to be growing. “It’s getting bigger, but it’s still a niche,” explains Alastair Gower, manager of The Chocolate Tree shop in Edinburgh. “Fine chocolate’s like a young tree. It’s definitely growing and getting stronger, but it’s still surrounded by Cadbury’s shrubbery.” So what is the growth of fine chocolate down to? “I think people are more aware of what they eat. Fast food has had its day. It’s slow food that’s thriving now.” Alastair and his partner Frederike Matthis started their chocolate venture five years ago when they started selling their products at UK music festivals. They continued to sell to delis and soon had enough money and encouragement from customers to open a shop. The Chocolate Tree is now a firm local favourite in Edinburgh with signature products including sea-salted caramel bars, Buddha-shaped chocolate studded with crystallized ginger and vegan hazelnut chocolate cake. But you don’t have to go to Scotland to have a taste of Britain’s finest chocolate, it’s more than likely you’ll find some locally. B&B recommends: Chococo, Dorset www.chococo.co.uk Montezuma’s, Brighton www.montezumas.co.uk Simply Cocoa, Manchester 01612 388999 Paul Wayne Gregory www.paulwaynegregory.com
The London Coffee Revolution
A new generation of roasters, baristas and café owners are making London the coffee capital of the world. Jessica Pike meets the people leading the movement
’m in a room surrounded by coffee fanatics. These people are obsessed with coffee. They know where to find good beans, how to roast them to bring out the best flavours and how to prepare the perfect cup. And today they’re being put to the test. I’m at the final of the British Barista Championship, which is being held in London’s Docklands. Twenty baristas demonstrate their skills in front of a panel of expert judges, preparing four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original signature drinks in a 15-minute performance set to music. It might sound bizarre, but this is serious business for those involved. The winner will go on to compete in the World Barista Championship (WBC) in June. The chosen location of the WBC, as well as the fact that the winners in 2007 and 2009 were both British, is a clear sign of the country’s burgeoning coffee culture. Right now the London coffee scene is thriving. Cafés and roasteries have endured the worst of the recession; businessmen who would have previously taken clients out for lunch and wine are now favouring the cheaper option of coffee and a sandwich. While some restaurants and pubs are closing down, new coffee shops
are opening up across the capital with customers demanding quality and consistency. And this isn’t just in London – cafés such as Kilimanjaro in Edinburgh and The Bean in Nottingham are also doing exceptionally well. Long gone are the days of watery lattes and tepid cappuccinos. If anyone can tell me more about the emerging scene, it’s Gwilym Davies. Having won the title of World Barista Champion in 2009, he knows good coffee and how to make it, as well as what it takes to set up an independent business. Along with running Prufrock, a coffee bar in a men’s clothing shop in east London, Gwilym is the inventor of the ‘dis-loyalty’ card, designed to help promote independent coffee sellers in the city. With one of these you can buy eight coffees from any of 10 independent sellers in London and get the ninth free at Prufrock. The aim is to promote unity between independent sellers and make coffee lovers feel part of a specialist community. Gwilym’s outlook is refreshing in a business environment where competition is usually rife. “The best thing about the London scene is the friendliness and openness between roasters and cafés,” he says. “This is partly why the scene’s growing so quickly.” He tells me that the market hasn’t been
>Online: exclusive video of the Climpson’s Roastery
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Award-winning barista Gwilym Davies at Whitecross Market ÂŠEvening Standard
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saturated in London, so there’s still plenty more beans (and profit) to go around. AJ Kinnell, a coffee buyer for Monmouth, London’s oldest roastery (founded in 1978) echoes this point. “There are only five roasters in London, which is ridiculous considering the size of the city. In New Zealand, we have a population of four million people and we have over 130 coffee roasters. There’s definitely room for more people.” The Monmouth roastery is located under the arches of a railway bridge in Southwark, south London. Trains rumble overhead, and inside, the rich smell of coffee infuses the air. It’s an impressive place – fat, woven sacks are piled up in corners and a gleaming Petroncini roaster is surrounded by vast tubs of green, unroasted beans. Roasting has finished for the day, but the machine’s still hot to touch. Every morning AJ and 10 other experienced coffee tasters sample different blends to ensure quality and consistency. As I sip a flat white, AJ tells me that she’s in the throes of a 10 year love affair with coffee. “The attention and interest that the coffee industry is getting at the moment is fantastic. It’s a very exciting time for us.” Further east on an industrial estate in West Ham is Union Hand Roasted, another key player in the coffee scene. (The majority of the best roasters and cafés are in east London, where rent is - or was - cheapest.) Union doesn’t have its own café, and instead focuses on selling to other cafés, delis and restaurants. Jeremy Torz, the co-owner, describes the long chain of communication involved. “We speak to and visit the farmers regularly, which we think is really important. From the farmer to the barista, everyone has to be happy and know what they’re doing.” This isn’t always possible for smaller roasters. Ian Burgess owns Climpson and Sons, a beautiful café and roastery at bustling Broadway Market, Hackney. “We can’t afford to travel out to the farms, we’re just too small at the moment,” he says. Inside his café, customers sip cappuccinos and read the newspapers as trained baristas prepare lattes, flat whites and espressos. It may look like a seamless operation, but Burgess has some advice for those thinking of setting up a coffee shop. “People might think it’ll be easy,” he says. “But I’d say go and work in one first and find out exactly what’s involved. Most people don’t realise how much hard work goes in.” It’s clear that the British scene has many influences: the Italians, who provided the first espresso machines, the Americans who invented what we now recognise to be ‘coffee shop culture’, and more recently the Australians and New Zealanders. What’s happening now seems to be an organic movement, a natural growth inspired in part by the way other countries have gone about it. Those in the know say that Scandinavia, the west coast of America, Japan and Australia all have amazing coffee scenes. As Gwilym Davies notes, the British have taken from all these influences and are “in the infancy of defining their own scene”. Back in London’s Docklands, the winner of the British Barista Championship has just been announced. It’s John Gordon, who works at Square Mile roastery. He’s clearly optimistic about the growth of the British coffee scene: “I can’t wait to see it grow, which it definitely will. This coffee community is just going to keep getting bigger and better.”
Gwilym’s top tips for making great coffee Flavours
Balance is key. If the water temperature is too low, or if water passes too quickly through the coffee grounds, you may get sour flavours. If the water temperature is too high, or the water passes too slowly though the coffee grounds, you may taste more bitter ashy flavours.
The barista should use fresh coffee. Ask them when it was roasted – coffee beans go stale after about two weeks of roasting.
Fresh milk should be used for each and every cup. Avoid reheating.
The coffee mustn’t be too hot. Ideally, it should be a temperature that means you can drink it immediately.
The baskets (the part of the machine that the coffee grounds are spooned into) should always be cleaned before brewing a new batch of coffee.
A Monmouth barista packs coffee in London Bridge. Photo by India Sturgis.
Gwilym Davies: www.prufrockcoffee.com Monmouth: www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk Union Hand Roasted: www.unionroasted.com Climpson and Sons: www.webcoffeeshop.co.uk >Online: exclusive video of the Climpson’s Roastery
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Would you like to see the beer list, Sir? Wine has long been considered the drink of choice for fine dining. But with many restaurants now establishing on-site microbreweries, British beer is being rebranded. Jonny Garrett investigates
ipes cling to the ceiling above massive metal tanks. Strange machines whine. Each wall is made of glass. Beyond the stainless steel machinery you can see the green expanse of Greenwich Park. With the open plan and glass partitions it’s hard to believe you’re in a restaurant, and in many ways you aren’t: Zerodegrees in south east London is a kitchen, bar, brewery and restaurant all in one. Zerodegrees is one of several new venues that have found a way to make the restaurant-cum-brewery model work, and make money. With energy saving benefits, environmentally friendly
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processes and tax cuts for small breweries, it’s a profitable business model which, since 2000, has seen the company open three more branches in Reading, Bristol and Cardiff. The brewery makes five beers, all brewed 20 feet away from the tap out of which they’re poured. Head brewer Simon Siemsgluess is from Germany, where micro-brewery restaurants are widespread. To him the idea is a natural progression rather than a revolution. His beers are made from German recipes, but the hops, yeast, grain and water are from Britain. Simon produces the full range using just these four ingredients, be it their Czech-
inspired Pilsner lager or traditional dark wheat beer. He hopes to make a beer menu that matches the breadth and flavours of Zerodegrees’ international cuisine, as well as promoting traditional brewing. The beers are given at least two weeks to mature and are all at least 4.8 per cent alcohol by volume, which gives them a much stronger flavour than most mass-produced lagers. “There are a lot of four per cent beers being served that you wouldn’t have seen five years ago. Demand has gone down so companies have to come up with ways to get around that, and four per cent beer costs less to produce. We want to get back to the roots of making beer in the natural way, without mass producing it.” The microbrewery at Zerodegrees is its main selling point. Restaurant manager Finn Trainor believes that by offering organic produce made using traditional methods they can set themselves apart from the competition. Unfortunately beer sales in restaurants and pubs have been falling year on year. Finn says: “The recession affected everyone but being quite individual has helped. I think we’ve taken a lot of customers away from more pricey restaurants. The brewery is what makes us unique and gets people in. We get emails on a daily basis from people in places like the Czech Republic, who want directions here so they can try the beer and food.” The glass walls allow customers to see their food being cooked and their drinks being brewed, something Trainor describes as ‘theatre-style’ dining. Matching the food with the beer is part of this experience. The light Pilsner lager suits Zerodegrees’ largely Mediterranean cuisine, but Simon says the heavier ales they brew also work with food: “Contrary to what you might think, Italian food with beer makes a perfect combination. They go so well together. If anything, the darker beers
complement the food better.” “Certain beers go with certain dishes,” adds Finn. “Our wheat beer goes with pork dishes. Our head chef matches the specials to the beers, like the oysters with the Black Lager – much like people traditionally eat oysters with Guinness.” So is beer matching a passing fad or an actual business proposition? And can it rival wine in restaurants? Zerodegrees still has a wine list, though real ales and premium lagers can have as many textures as the most expensive red wines. Rupert Ponsonby, a director at the Beer Academy in Mayfair, runs training courses in beer tasting and matching and he’s adamant that beer belongs at the dinner table. “Beers have many flavours that wine can never match. You can have honey, caramel or coffee. There are fruit beers and wheat beers. The higher alcohol content in wine today means higher tannins [responsible for that dry, puckered feeling on your tongue] often over-power food. Beer is more supple and delicate.” Even the clichéd partnership of wine and cheese is under threat with Rupert saying that beer shares more common properties with cheese than wine. Honey and creamy flavours as well as fruity hops complement the bitterness of the cheese, while modern wines tend to dominate its flavour. The Beer Academy is part of a high-profile campaign to put beer on the tables of celebrity chefs and in high end restaurants. “We once challenged the chefs at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant to pair their food with beers,” says Rupert. “One dish was roast caramelised belly pork with Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer, which has a wonderful toasty caramel taste. And there were oysters with lavender and passion-fruit with a Belgian spiced wheat beer.” The success of these ventures has meant that many restaurateurs are creating beer menus as well as wine ones. Beer is a cheaper alternative to wine, and its unsophisticated
“We get emails from people in the Czech Republic, who want directions here so they can try the beer and food”
Keeping it micro Copper Dragon – Skipton, Yorkshire
Bored of mass market brewing and a take over culture, founders Steve Taylor and Ruth Bennett sought to re-establish the century old historic brewery at Skipton. Copper Dragon now provides traditional flavours using only local ingredients.
BrewDog – Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire Proud to be different and famous for their 32 per cent beer Tactical Nuclear Penguin, this microbrewery also produces fantastic local ales and is a big advocate of beer and food matching.
St Peter’s Brewery – Bungay, Suffolk
Based in a village called St Peter, the brewery uses local hops and water from a spring right beneath their feet. They own the Jerusalem Tavern in London, voted the UK’s Best Town Pub by the Good Pub Guide. The beers may be German recipes, but all the ingredients are British.
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From the brewery you can see the bar, restaurant and kitchen. All photos by Jonny Garrett
image is starting to change. Alasdair Hook founded south London’s Meantime Brewery a decade ago, and takes great pride in local brewing. “We brew the widest range of beers in the UK to show the spectrum of what beer can do,” he says. “I think people are waking up to the sophistication of their national drink.” Meantime’s beers have won trophies at the World Beer Awards three years in a row, helped by its individual, passionate approach to brewing. He believes that beer fully deserves its new place at the table. “We actually started by supplying restaurants, because they’re not tied to major brewers,” he says. “There’s no reason why beer and wine should be regarded as different at the dinner table, that’s just lazy thinking. It’s a question of preference. Some things go better with beer, others with wine.” The initial start up cost for microbreweries can be as much as £1 million in cities, but the financial benefits are there for entrepreneurs. Smaller breweries receive a tax cut of 3p per litre, and this is part of the reason that the number of independent breweries has doubled in the last ten years. This is good for both the industry and the environment, as smaller companies are often more economical and eco-friendly. The water used to cool the beer can be recycled and the mash made from the grain can be given to a local stable for horse feed. The rise of the microbrewery is a sign of the passion felt by those who have tasted and understood the place of traditional beer in gastronomy. It belongs with food, fresh from the barrels and not watered down to suit fussy palates. With the business model becoming far more viable and customers becoming more open to beer on the dinner table, the time is ripe for restaurant owners and brewers to collaborate.
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The big match
With such a wide aray of beers, food matching is often an experiment. Here’s a five course menu to get you started. Caesar Salad with a blonde or golden ale (Oxfordshire’s Pride of Oxford) Crab, Prawn and Dill fishcakes with a weissbier (Hoegaarden) Steak marinated in Innis & Gunn with thick chips (Innis & Gunn oak aged beer) Rustic bakewell tart with a raspberry beer (Meantime’s Raspberry Grand Cru) Blue cheese with porter (Meantime’s Porter) or Cheddar with an IPA (Fuller’s 1845) Source: Appetite for Ale, 2007 Thanks to CAMRA and Fiona and Will Beckett
Zerodegrees: www.zerodegrees.co.uk; Tel: 020 8852 5619 Meantime Brewery: www.meantimebrewing.com; Tel: 020 8293 1111 Rupert Ponsonby: www.beeracademy.co.uk; Tel: 020 7290 6087
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Caerphilly does it Making Caerphilly cheese is a traditional but labour-intensive process. Clare Vooght finds out how one remote Welsh dairy has become a nationwide success
he only thing that’s not Welsh in here is the radio,” says Maugan Trethowan as he leads me into an old, grey stone building with bright red doors. We’re on a farm in the middle of the Teifi Valley in south west Wales. Here, rennet (enzymes from a cow’s stomach) is added to milk and mixed in a vat to separate the curds from the whey. Then the curd is salted and packed into round moulds, pressed, soaked in brine and the wheels of cheese are left to mature. Two months later the Gorwydd (pronounced Gor-with) Caerphilly has grown a thick, earthy mould-covered rind and is delicate and creamy underneath. It’s ready to eat. Trethowan’s Dairy was set up by Maugan’s brother Todd in 1996. It has grown into a 15-person operation with their wives working alongside local workers. The business has expanded beyond the farm in Wales to include a shop in Bristol and a stall at Borough Market in London. Todd began transporting cheese for Neal’s Yard Dairy in Covent Garden, London, 20 years ago. “It was really interesting talking to these cheesemakers,” remembers Todd. “It gave me the idea of doing it myself.” Still unsure about choosing cheesemaking as a career, he studied Archaeology at the nearby University of Lampeter. Though he kept up a weekend job at a local farm making Tyn Grug cheese with Dougal Campbell, a pioneering farmer and founder of Welsh Organic Foods. Three years later, he had the option of taking an MSc in Human Evolution and Biology in Sheffield. Instead he chose to do several apprenticeships making different cheeses. The most significant was with third-generation Caerphilly
Maugan Trethowan at Gorwydd farm. Photo by Clare Vooght
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The treasured Welsh cheese matures for two months in the storeroom. Photo by Clare Vooght
maker Chris Duckett in Somerset, at the time the only person left making Caerphilly using the traditional method. In 1996, he decided to give cheesemaking a go on his parents’ farm. Climate is crucial to Caerphilly’s taste. Although they’re not located in Caerphilly, the Teifi Valley gets a lot of rainfall which increases the humidity in the store room, so it’s a good place to make cheese. “The moulds that grow on the cheeses are specific to here,” explains Maugan. “If we moved it anywhere else you’d have a different rind on the outside because there’d be different moulds in the air.” Todd sent a sample from his first batch to Neal’s Yard Dairy owner Randolph Hodgson who liked it and bought some. “From there it just evolved,” says Maugan. Two years later Todd persuaded Maugan to leave his career as an archaeologist and get involved. Now he and his team do the cheesemaking while Todd is away three weeks a month running the shop in Bristol.
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“We just thought ‘we’ll see what happens’,” Maugan says. “If it didn’t work we could always go back to our old jobs, but luckily it did.” It was a financial struggle at first, because of all
“Caerphilly tends to get mullered in a factory environment” the equipment they needed to buy to get started and the work they had to do to the building to ensure they met food hygiene requirements. But five years ago, they managed to pay off all their debts. Now Caerphilly from the Trethowan’s dairy is sold in Waitrose and delis across the country. It is bought by restaurants across the UK, and exported to Europe, the US and Canada. It is also popular locally: “People around here like it and if they have friends to stay they’ll often buy some cheese to show off,” says Maugan. In the
village shop near the dairy, it costs £5.55 per lb, but in London it’s double that. Caerphilly cheese can sometimes be unpalatably dry, but Gorwydd Caerphilly has a creamier texture. Todd says: “People tried to put me off making Caerphilly – it didn’t have a good reputation because it tends to get mullered in a factory environment. It was hard at first as people didn’t think they liked it. They hadn’t tried it made the traditional way.” Gorwydd Caerphilly has won awards every year since they started, including Best British Cheese and Best Welsh Cheese at the World Cheese Awards in 2005. These are all modestly crammed onto a shelf in the office at the back of the factory. Even the recession hasn’t slowed their business. “It’s been really busy, even busier than the year before. We’re struggling to make enough to keep up with demand.” Despite the momentum, they don’t have plans for expansion. Morgan explains: “We don’t want to get too big.
Four steps to becoming a successful cheesemaker 1 Take a course
The School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire (www. schoolofartisanfood.org) and AB Cheesemaking in Cheshire (www. abcheesemaking.co.uk) do courses in cheesemaking. Courses range from half a day to five days and cover all aspects of cheese production. Also, find work with other producers to get some experience and advice before you start.
2 Get in the know
4 Sell your produce
Once you’ve made your first batch, the best places to approach are delis or specialist cheese shops, because they can give you feedback. Waitrose is also a good place to start as it stocks regional products in certain stores (Head Office: 01344 424 680). Neal’s Yard Dairy (www.nealsyarddairy.co.uk) in Covent Garden bought some of the first batch after Todd sent them a sample. The business grew
from there as customers liked their cheese and requested it in other delis, who then contacted the dairy and ordered the cheese. Selling at the busy and respected Borough Market (www. boroughmarket.org.uk) has been great for the Trethowans too. Maugan says: “Borough’s brilliant for publicity – lots of people go and taste the cheese so it’s good to have a presence there.”
Join the Specialist Cheesemakers Association (www. specialistcheesemakers.co.uk), a group of cheesemakers, retailers, wholesalers and cheese lovers. It’s a good way to meet other people in the business and the association promotes British cheese and informs makers of legal issues that might affect them. Look at the Specialist Cheesemakers Code of Best Practice.
3 Keep costs down
Costs vary depending on your factory and whether you have your own milk supply. The Trethowan’s start-up costs were low as their parents owned the farm already. Todd only needed to get a £5,000 bank loan to buy a second-hand vat and other vintage equipment. The brothers installed concrete floors, sinks and chillers to the farm themselves to keep costs down. Salting the cheese at Trethowan’s dairy. Photo by Clare Vooght
It’s easy to keep an eye on the quality when you’re not too big. Otherwise all your time is taken up by paperwork and you’re not actually making the cheese, you can lose consistency.” Quality, simplicity and tradition is their mantra. The Trethowans believe the business is successful because they focus on one type of cheese, and keep the taste consistent. They make it by hand, use clean unpasteurised milk, and give the cheese plenty of time to mature. As a result, they get better taste and texture than mass-produced Caerphilly. “With unpasteurised milk you get a much better depth of flavour,” says Maugan. “We’ve adapted our methods
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gradually and now we use traditional animal rennet instead of vegetable.” Todd chose Caerphilly because of its Welsh heritage, and because there was only one other Caerphilly maker who used the traditional method. The Trethowans also had family links to Caerphilly. Maugan explains: “My grandmother’s side was all born there going back to the 1700s, and were involved in cheesemaking at the farms they worked on. It’s quite apt that we’re making it now.” Producing Caerphilly is labourintensive and, as they are a small business, they have to watch every penny. While I’m photographing the factory Maugan
won’t let me cut into a wheel of cheese as it would make it unsellable. But despite these financial constraints they wouldn’t change a thing: “If someone asked me five years ago what I’d do differently if I had to start the business again, I’d say I wouldn’t have done it. It’s such hard work,” says Todd. “But now I feel like we’re really getting it. We have lots of loyal customers, and people are appreciating good food more than ever.” Gorwydd Caerphilly is sold in 4kg wheels. To stock the cheese, call the dairy on 01570 493516
IN THE MARKET
This east London market was practically derelict a decade ago, but James McIrvine discovers Hackney’s ‘sinking ship’ is far from going under
>Online: Watch our In the Market video for interviews from Broadway Market
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en years ago, Broadway Market barely existed. Vacant stalls and boarded-up shops lined the site of one of London’s oldest markets. Even graffiti artists despaired of the dying institution, scrawling on a nearby wall: “Broadway Market is not a sinking ship - it’s a submarine”. In 2004, the Broadway Market Traders’ and Residents’ Association (BMTRA) decided to restart a Saturday market and force out drug dealers who were plying their trade on the deserted street. Hackney had become trendy among young professionals thanks to its arts scene. It was time to take advantage of the area’s new-found affluence. Wandering round the market is a very different experience since its regeneration. The road is teeming with people. There are mothers with push chairs; waif-like, long-haired Shoreditch types in designer velvet jackets; elderly clientele who may well have frequented the market of old; and a few bewildered looking locals who don’t quite know what to make of this weekly street invasion.
Merito Coffee (www.meritocoffee. com) is attracting a large queue at the north end of the market, opposite the Off Broadway pub. There are over 20 varieties of ethically-sourced coffee
“It was so quiet there was practically tumbleweed rolling down the street” beans and you can request filter coffee made to order. Jason Fitzpatrick has been working on this stall since 2004 and has seen first-hand how the market has changed the local scene. “I had my birthday party in a bar on this road nine years ago. It was so
IN THE MARKET quiet there was practically tumbleweed rolling down the street,” says Jason. “It’s completely changed. There’s a very bohemian laid-back atmosphere. No one causes any trouble. Everyone looks different. Everyone is having fun. It’s a really nice vibe.” Nearby is St John and Dolly Smith’s Pickles, Sauces and Chutneys stall (www. thepickleman.com). A cornucopia of exotic concoctions are displayed in jars. The company is run by Chris Smith who makes all the products himself. “I get customers who come back every few weeks and customers who come back every few months,” says Chris. “Since my products can last up to four or five years, people only need to replace them when they’re finished, but business is still fairly constant.” His ‘Old Nick’ Scotch Bonnet Sauce is proving a favourite with its fiery chilli flavour. Walk towards the centre of the market on the west side of the road, and you’ll find the Norbiton Cheese stall (www. norbitoncheese.co.uk). Bryan Barrington specialises in Farmhouse cheeses.
This page: Sweet treats at Broadway Market. Previous page: an array of snacks on offer including beef in Yorkshire pudding (left) and curry (right). Photos by Rachel Smith
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IN THE MARKET
Fruit and veg has been a firm favourite at the Hackney market for over 50 years
On display is a selection of artisan cheeses that he calls the ‘Best of British’. “Broadway Market is a really great market for us. It’s up there in our top two or three,” says Bryan. “It is one of those markets in which you can build up a local customer base. It’s consistent; we know what we’re going to get each week. A lot of markets are very touristy. You have a bit of bad weather and nobody comes out. At Broadway, people will make the effort because they know they can get really good fresh produce at a reasonable price.” A survey last year found that 90 per cent of Broadway customers live within a mile of the market. This is good news for traders as locals are more likely to buy things. It’s all very well attracting tourists but often they’re there for the spectacle rather than the shopping. Some of the traders who have stalls at the more famous Borough market find they make more money here, as it is easier for customers to negotiate the crowds. The Cinnamon Tree Bakery (www. thecinnamontreebakery.co.uk) specialises in baked confectionery. They sell Shortbread Owls and Cinnamon Elephants at both Broadway and Borough markets. “Two thirds of my customers at Broadway are people I see week in week out,” says Andrew Geddes who runs the stall. “There’s a really good sense of local community.”
South of the centre of the market, Downland Produce’s (www.downland produce.co.uk) organic pork also attracts a devoted local following. The owner, David Wilkinson, used to be a commercial pig farmer with a herd of 500 at his farm in Lacock, Wiltshire. Now he
“You can only survive at Broadway if you have top quality produce” has 50 pigs but sells all the meat through his company. “I went down this road immediately after foot and mouth as I thought it might be easier,” he says. “It isn’t, but it is very satisfying seeing the products all the way through. We always knew our product was high quality but now we get to hear it directly from the customer.” Last year three of their products won gold medals from the Taste of the West food awards. David points out: “You can only survive at Broadway if you have top quality produce. You wouldn’t be here very long if you didn’t.” Downland Produce also have stalls at markets in Marylebone, Islington,
>Online: Watch our In the Market video for interviews from Broadway Market
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IN THE MARKET
Savoury tartlets at Artisan Foods on Broadway market
Wimbledon, Pimlico and Richmond. But Broadway is one of their best performing stalls. “It’s a very popular market,” says David. “It’s always buzzing even if it’s a cold and miserable day.” At the heart of the market is John and Tony’s fruit and vegetable stall. John started selling from this stall 50 years ago and his father was here before him. They are the only traders to have operated in the original market who still have a stall. As I approach the stall, John is wandering away with an acoustic guitar under his arm. He’s bought it from another stall. Is he embracing the hipster ambience and starting a skiffle group? No, he assures me. It’s for his grandson. Although a traditional grocer, John and Tony’s produce is still in great demand from the metropolitan crowd the Saturday market now attracts. “Back in the day it was a good market,” says Tony. “But that died about twenty years ago. Now it’s got lively again and that’s obviously good for us.” Just across from them is the BMTRA’s stall, which sells canvas bags and ‘I “heart” Broadway Market’ badges. Watching over the hubbub with a smile and a pint of ale is Andrew Veitch, the former chairman. As both a local resident and an active participant in the market, he has experienced first-hand the transformation the new market has wrought on the area.
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“We have succeeded beyond anything we ever expected,” says Andrew. “We’ve got to the stage where we don’t actually need to do publicity. We didn’t even notice the recession.” Saturdays attract up to 6,000 shoppers and competition is fierce whenever a stall becomes available. Broadway Market’s slogan is ‘quality, speciality, variety’ and this is what they are looking for from potential stallholders.
Like most popular London markets they are currently full, but places do become available from time to time. “The main criterion is quality,” says Andrew. “So if your application says you’re an organic farmer then you’ll probably be higher up the waiting list.” In six years the market has completely transformed. Whether it’s hand-reared livestock or quirky clothing, Broadway has raised the bar for urban markets.
Andrew Veitch on getting a stall:
We’re looking for high quality fish, fruit, veg, meat, cheese staples that people can take home. The key criterion is high quality. If a vacancy arises, you’d be invited to a meet and greet to show your produce. We’ll then make a recommendation to the Council for a licence. I have to say that we are quite choosy. We want people who buy into what we’re doing. I hope we get our choices right
Trading is £34 a day (£9 council rent and £25 for the stall and back office support). Application forms from: www.broadwaymarket.co.uk
Andrew Veitch photo © Gabrielle Motola
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State of the pollination The demise of the bee has made headline news but little has been said on how this will affect the food industry as a whole. Rachel Smith reports ÂŠ Gabrielle Motola
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magine a future without bees. No blackberry and apple pie. No raspberry sorbet or strawberry ice cream. No smattering of elderflower decorating the hedgerow. No pear orchards, peaches and apricots. No squash, pumpkin, fennel, cucumber or onions. The dinner of our bee-less future looks bleak. In the last 20 years, the honey bee population has declined by more than half, and the numbers of solitary and bumblebees have plummeted. The knock-on effect this could have on agriculture is devastating. One in three mouthfuls that we eat is dependent on pollination, and 80 per cent of British plant species rely on insect fertilisation. Continued decline could have far reaching implications on all sorts of food production industries. The meat and dairy industries need bees to pollinate clover for cattle grazing. Fruit growers rely on bees to fertilise their crops. The food chain that props up our fragile ecosystem depends on bees pollinating wild flowers and other plants. Estimates show that continued decline in the bee population could cause a 13 per cent slump on farming income, costing British agriculture £440 million. “The figures aren’t plucked
from the air – they come from carefully calculated economics,” says Dr Jacobus Biesmeijer, research fellow at the Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology at Leeds University. There’s no obvious alternative to nature’s own way of fertilising plants. Hand-pollination, for example, would cost £1.5 billion per year. A single bee visits around 1,000 flowers every day. That’s a lot of work as well as a lot of money. “A very large portion of our pollination is done for free,” says Dr Ben Darvill, ecologist and development manager of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. “To replace this pollination service with hand pollination by people on minimum wage would not be practical or affordable.” “If people value variety on their dinner plates – their ‘five a day’ at affordable prices – then they should care about pollinator populations,” he says. “If you’re happy only eating rice and wheat-based foods, and don’t enjoy seeing colourful wildflowers in the countryside, then sure, no need to worry.” It’s not only honey bees that are responsible for crop fertilisation. Bumblebees and solitary bees are responsible for a large part of the pollination process. With a 60 per cent decline in the numbers of bumblebees since 1970, it seems
“One in three mouthfuls we eat is dependent on pollination”
Beekeepers worldwide have reported an 80 per cent loss from their hives. © Gabrielle Motola
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Plight of the bumblebee Three steps to help save the British bee
Get a bee hive
The number of British bee keepers has halved in the last 60 years. Managing a hive boosts your local bee population and can help pollinate your crop. Steve Benbow, the beekeeper for Fortnum & Mason’s rooftop hives, and manager of 850 nationwide hives, encourages people to boost local bee populations: “Each of my hives contains 50,000 bees,” he says. “The more people take on a hive, the more we can buck the trend of bee decline.” Steve recommends getting indigenous bees: “The British bee’s dark colour means that it absorbs sunlight better, and is more tolerant to our weather conditions here.” Before making the decision to become a beekeeper, take a three hour taster course. After that, Steve advises a three day practical course. Visit www.bee-craft.com for details of upcoming courses near you.
Plant a wildflower garden
Wildflower gardens not only provide bees with a varied source of nectar, but also create an easy-to-manage patch of colour. The key to a successful wildflower garden is plants which are in flower for as long as possible. Callum Davies, an eco-gardening specialist recommends a variety of seeds: “Try common knapweed, greater knapweed, cornflower, sainfoin, selfheal and red clover. There are obviously lots more, but these are the best for most of the year.” Wildflower gardens also have huge benefits over traditional British gardens. “A herbaceous border might only have five species of plants in it. The more varied the source of nectar though, the less likely it is that bees will pick up diseases. Another benefit is you don’t need any fertilizers or nasty chemicals in a wildflower garden.” Visit: www.ecocharlie.co.uk for ‘Bee Attract’ Wildflower Seeds.
that all species have been affected by pesticides, disease and loss of habitat. The decline of the bee population spreads further afield than Britain. Beekeepers worldwide have reported 80 per cent losses from their hives. “The people who will be the worst affected are farmers in developing countries,” Jacobus says. “At the end of the day, we could try to buy ourselves out of the problem, and we can afford to make changes to our diet. For a small-hold farmer in a developing country though, there’s no leeway.” Without bees, melons would only yield five per cent of their full harvest. Tropical crops have the highest dependency on pollinators. For kiwi fruit, passion fruit, cocoa, vanilla and Brazil nuts, pollinators are absolutely essential for their fertilisation. Over the past two years, America has lost 70 per cent of its honey bee colonies. Losses in the UK are currently running at 30 per cent a year – up from just six per cent in 2003. We are facing what is known as ‘an extinction vortex’. It’s what happens when the food chain crumbles round the disappearance of a critical link. No bees means no plants, which means even fewer bees. With the extinction of insect pollinated crops, the world as we know it will disintegrate around us. Lord Rooker, a Defra minister, and Chair of the FSA predicts that the British honey bee might just have 10 years left before extinction. With the real threat of ‘extinction vortex’ hanging over our heads, the time for change is now.
Give your hedgerows some TLC
Lots of pollination is done by bumblebees and solitary bees as well as honey bees. In apple orchards for example, 600 wild bees can pollinate the same amount as 30,000 honey bees. Wild bees live in different habitats to honey bees and many bumblebee species nest above ground. By cultivating hedgerows, you can create great nesting environments. Maintain your hedges at a minimum height of 1.5 metres and don’t trim more than once every couple of years. When you do trim, do it after September, as bumblebee nests are often still around until then. Try enriching hedges with other plants which can provide queens with a valuable source of food when they come out of hibernation in spring. For more information go to: www.handbooks.btcv.org.uk to order a booklet on hedgerow management.
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BACK TO BASICS
Against the grain Caroline Gosney puts the case forward for traditional breadmaking
ccording to the Federation of Bakers, the UK bread market is now worth almost £3 billion. This can be chiefly attributed to the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP). Introduced in 1961, the process revolutionised bread making by using highspeed steel mills. Labour time and costs were shaved, resulting in greater profits for manufacturers. But is this approach really the best thing since sliced bread? Today, around 80 per cent of bread made in Britain is produced using CBP. The dough is vigorously worked in high-speed mixers. Vitamin C is added to the flour to accelerate the process, and additives are used to make the bread last longer. The process emphasises speed and life-span. But despite the financial benefits, some people are taking bread back to its roots using simple ingredients and more traditional methods. Craig Sams and Josephine Fairley own Judges Bakery in East Sussex and are committed to ‘real bread’. “We’ve always been committed to organic food. We felt local was something we could be really interested in,” says Josephine. Die-hard regulars pop in daily while
their mail order service is gaining popularity with people across Britain. Josephine says: “Some regularly order 12 loaves at a time so they don’t have to eat supermarket bread.” She puts their popularity partly down to people becoming more interested in where their food comes from. She says: “Once you’ve had great bread you don’t go back to the flabby stuff.” Judges call themselves a ‘slow bakery’. Their bread is made using dough that has been left to rise slowly overnight and the ingredients, including the flour and the yeast, are all organic. Traditional bread is baked using natural ingredients with no additives. By using only flour, water, salt and yeast and leaving the dough to rise naturally, enzymes aren’t distorted by the high temperatures of the CBP mills. Plus, allowing a longer fermentation period ensures better texture and, arguably, taste. The start-up costs of a bakery can be high, often in the region of £40,000 just for rent and equipment. But since people are increasingly questioning where their food comes from, traditional breadmaking could be a profitable labour of love.
© Judges Bakery
For Judges Bakery mail order contact: firstname.lastname@example.org © Judges Bakery
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AT THE END OF THE DAY
Mike Kielty speaks to the founder of Food Lovers Britain, award-winning writer and local produce campaigner
Food is glorious because of the way it changes. I love that it’s different at every time of the year. I shop mostly in markets, although I do occasionally go to a supermarket for convenience. The joy about a proper market is that it will reflect the seasons and its place. So if you’re in an area that is famous for a particular produce, which is in season at that particular time of year, it’s exciting. There isn’t a market that I go to religiously except the farmers’ market in Queen’s Park, west London. I love travelling around.
In April, you can get some early lamb. There’s also lots of good fish available and wild garlic. You can pick nettle tops and make nettle soup. If you’re feeling really experimental, you can make nettlestuffed ravioli or a nettle sauce.
I’m not a complete Anglophile. I don’t only buy British produce. The blood oranges from abroad are wonderful. Pomegranates are great. I’m also looking forward to the Indian mango season in May.
Because I live alone, sometimes I’ll just buy a chicken and roast it. If I’m having a couple of people over for supper, I quite like to go and buy chicken thighs (they taste better than the breasts and the drumsticks), which I roast with root vegetables. I’ll put on some honey or balsamic vinegar, or perhaps some spices from the local Persian shop, and then roast the whole thing. I founded my website as a way for people to find the best locally-produced food. We approve all the businesses before we put them on our website, so that we know they are of a certain standard. We weed out the ones who are not delivering. I love to go to the north Norfolk coast on holiday. It’s just heaven. Good friends. Good landscape. Great food. I’ve had wonderful local cockles at The White Horse at Brancaster. It’s got a gorgeous terrace overlooking the marshes. Or you can go down to the nearby crab shacks, buy some crabs and eat them while watching the sun set.
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Published on Mar 30, 2010