Food Safari

Food Safari
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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wild Meat in a Day - last chance to book

Wild Meat in a Day - prepare it, cook it, eat it
Sunday March 29th
The Anchor at Walberswick, Suffolk

Join Food Safari to round off the game season with a fun, hands-on day preparing, cooking and eating game. There are just a few places left on the event which takes place in ten days time.

The workshop will be led Robert Gooch of The Wild Meat Company. One of Rick Stein's Food Heroes, Robert started the Wild Meat Company in 1999 with the aim of taking "the muck and mystery out of buying and eating game". Wild Meat Company sell wild game from woods, forests and fields in Suffolk killed by local farmers and landowners.

Robert will share his wealth of experience about local game, habitats and seasons. The focus will be venison and we'll explore how different varieties of deer produce different meat.

Generally speaking, the smaller the deer, the more fine-grained and delicate the meat will be. Roe and muntjak are more gently flavoured animals while fallow deer have grainier, richer meat, and the big red deer give the most open-textured and gamey venison of all. Robert will explain why wild animals that have roamed freely are likely to be a little more robust in flavour and texture than their farmed counterparts, which will have had a more restricted range.

Venison is rich in protein and lower in fat than other red meats and is a good source of B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Mike Keen, The Anchor's Head Chef will demonstrate so tasty and inspiring game dishes as well as sharing tips and ideas for preparing game at home. We'll round of the day with a tasting menu of game dishes and suggestions about complementary pairings of game with wine and beer.

Full details of the day are available on our web site: Food Safari or email

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Charles Nash of Sutton Hoo Chickens

We are deeply saddened to report that Charles Nash died suddenly on March 8th. He was one of the country's genuine Food Heroes and his early death is a great loss. His friendly face will be missed at farmers markets across Suffolk.

We send our heartfelt sympathy to Charles' family.

We were lucky enough to spend a fascinating morning with Charles in November walking around his farm at Sutton Hoo (Chicken the Full Story) and had hoped to share this experience with others through a Food Safari event in the summer this year.

We're informed that his family will continue to run Sutton Hoo Chickens in his memory and we hope that we may be able to offer this event at some time in the future so that people may have the opportunity to learn more about his legacy.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Brew day at Grain Brewery: report

I arranged for Tim to visit Grain's microbrewery in Alburgh on the Norfolk/Suffolk border for a day learning how to brew beer. Well it was his birthday and thankfully he did bring a few bottles back and also agreed to blog his experience!

"I managed to get lost on the way to Alburgh but what a beautiful place! On the North side of the Waveney valley which runs along the Suffolk/Norfolk border this is unexpectedly rolling English countryside. When Phil Halls and Geoff Wright were looking for a home for their new brewery in 2006 they saw and rejected lots of potential sites including a range of different farm buildings and (thankfully) characterless premises on industrial estates at a much higher cost. When they found their current site at South Farm they knew it was right for what they wanted to do.
What I learned between 9.30 and 4.00 is that the life of a craft brewer is physically demanding, full of sensory (particularly olfactory) stimulation and occasionally repetitive.

All brewers develop their own unique recipes. Today we were brewing Grain's session bitter Oak and throughout the process we referred to a sheet listing the precise weights of ingredients.
The first part of the brewing process is to combine hot water (called liquor in brewing terminology - it just sounds better doesn't it?) with malted barley which comes in big sacks.
This lets the heat release the natural sugars in the barley (which will later be turned to alcohol by yeast) in a big open barrel called a mash tun. The clever bit at this stage as we learned at Beer Academy is combining different types of malted barley: pale, crystal, chocolate in different proportions to create beers of very different flavours and colours. Oak majors on pale malt - Maris Otter to be precise.

The sweetest cup or two of the resulting 'wort' is discarded and then the rest is transferred to a copper tank where it is boiled with hops. Two types of hops are added in two stages: first bittering hops which add bitterness; and then at end of an hour or so aroma hops which 'spice' the brew adding a wonderful, heady aroma. These aroma hops are an expensive ingredient (by weight) but really contribute character and zing to a beer like Oak.

While the 'boil' takes place we get our hands and boots dirty shovelling the spent barley out of the mash tun (see below) - it's oddly satisfying and we just finish in time for Jimmy the farmer to come and pick up the sacks of waste barley husks to feed to his sheep. How about that for thrift and sustainability?

The brew is then transferred into a fermentation tank where it will, with the addition of yeast the following day, begin to become beer as we know it with the malt sugar converted to alcohol. The beer we brewed will be ready in a few short weeks and Phil is going to give us a call when it's ready!"

We really like Grain's beers and are impressed with the way Phil and Geoff are working to bring their beer to new audiences : check out their classic session bitter Oak which has some lovely aromatic hops on the nose, the Ruby Porter which is full, sweet and creamy with that 'Ovaltine' flavour from crystal malt and the Strong Pale Ale which has quite a serious drink with a kick.