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So my afternoon at the local food event was good.  It’s always lovely to meet other people who are running similar projects, be inspired by others and generally network.  I would prefer more ‘doing’ at these events and less listening – I come home feeling inspired by what I’ve heard, but I would have liked to do more group problem-solving.

The lunch I must tell you, was really miserable.  Perhaps my work running community events and conferences makes me hyper-critical, but I would have thought that an event on local food should have a vibrant, seasonal lunch of local produce.  The only obvious local produce was the apple juice (from Eddisbury Fruit Farm), but otherwise it was miserable beige food (read: soggy garlic bread with cold melted cheese) and a few token carrot sticks.

But enough of that, tonight I made up a delicious pesto using some slightly-too-old peas and a bag of sugar snap peas that were in desperate need of being eaten.  I was also in real need of green, vibrant vegetables for tea. 

Homemade pea and sugar snap pesto

So I quickly cooked the sugar snap peas and ordinary peas (that I’d podded first – possibly one of my favourite jobs ever) in boiling water.  I allowed the sugar snap peas a few minutes longer, but really only let them turn a bright green before draining them and cooling quickly in iced water.

I popped them into my handy small blender, along with some walnut oil (thought I’d try something different), sliced mint from the garden, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper.  I whizzed it all up, added some more oil to loosen it, adjusted the seasonings to taste and hey pesto (sorry…it was too irresistable!) my pea pesto was finished!

After cooking the pasta, I added the pesto along with a splash of the pasta water and mixed it in.  For an extra dash of colour, and in the spirit of using as much of my edible garden as possible, I added a few lilac mint flowers to finish it off. 

This is not a powerful, punchy pesto like the basil version.  It is subtle, with the sweetness of pea, the earthy nuttiness of the oil, and the savoury-salty flavour of Parmesan.  Lovely, seasonal, and a great way to use up forgotten vegetables.

Mr Rigg and I have had a lovely weekend with my family.  Yesterday before we left my mom and I made a delicious pasta dinner using green spring inspired vegetables.  Simply dreamt up with the ingredients we had.  Here’s how we made it…

Spring vegetable pasta

Feeds 2

2 small to medium leeks
Half a bunch of asparagus
Small bowlful of frozen peas
2 handfuls of shelled broad beans
2 spring onions
Long thin pasta for two
2 rashers of bacon (optional)
Parmesan to serve
Butter, olive oil, salt and pepper

Melt a generous knob of butter in a saucepan.  Finely slice the leeks and saute in the butter until soft.  You can also add a couple of teaspoonfuls of the pasta cooking water.  Season with salt and pepper.

If you are having bacon, cut it into small pieces and fry until crispy.

Put on a pan of boiling salted water and cook the pasta accordingly.  About 3-5 minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broad beans and peas.  Slice the asparagus diagonally into small slithers and add them to the pasta, peas and beans to cook for a few minutes.

Slice up the spring onions and add to the leeks. 

When the pasta and vegetables are cooked, drain the water and tip the pasta into the pan with the leeks.  Stir well, add a little olive oil and season to taste if needed.  Add a little more butter if the pasta is a little dry.

Eat the pasta topped with crispy bacon and shards of Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Better looking photos thanks to the little sister’s camera!

Some lovely friends of ours invited us round for tea last night – a scrumptious Jamie Oliver recipe from his Italy book of Sausages and Green Lentils with Tomato Salsa.  It’s one I’ve been meaning to try for a while…and now we’ve tasted it I’ll definitely be making it myself.

It’s always nice to take a little gift when you go out for dinner, so with the sun shining I headed down the garden to gather a small edible bunch of herbs. 

I collected mint, golden marjoram, rosemary, fennel fronds, flat leaf parsley and some jolly purple chive flowers.  All tied up with some purple raffia it was a simple but pretty gift that not only looked nice but could be used in cooking as well. 

We are off this weekend to visit my family and do some more wedding planning – this weekend ‘food’ is on the agenda.  We want a seasonal May wedding next year so the idea is to go to Stroud Farmer’s Market to see what’s available at the moment and dream up delicious dishes for our wedding feast.

As I mentioned previously, on Tuesday it was my birthday and Mr Rigg and I had lunch at The Victoria pub in Altrincham.  We have wanted to go and eat there for as long as we’ve known about it, but for whatever reason never been until this week.

We weren’t disappointed.  The pub serves dishes with a strong emphasis on seasonal and local ingredients.  We chose three starters/light dishes and sat listening to the Pipettes

What we ate…

Local Asparagus Muffin ~ grilled Cheshire/Lancashire asparagus served on a toasted muffin, topped with a poached egg and creamy hollandaise sauce.

Gorgeous fluffy muffin, tasty asparagus, a runny golden yolk and buttery hollandaise sauce.  I could have eaten this dish over and over again.

Sarsaparilla Glazed Belly Pork Ribs ~ Meaty pork ribs glazed in an orange and sarsaparilla sauce served with chunks of bread for mopping.

This was more Mr Rigg’s choice than mine – I did try a mouthful and the glaze was delicious.  Any menu that includes ‘bread for mopping’ is five star in my opinion!

Seared Mackerel Pikelet ~ Pan fried mackerel fillet, served on a toasted pikelet with a pickled walnut and rocket salad, with herb dressing.

A real surprise – I wasn’t sure about this dish when I first saw it, but the flavours were heavenly.  A toasted pikelet and soft mackerel with herby dressing and pickled walnuts.  I’d never had pickled walnuts before but they were scrumptious with the rest of this dish.

I was also equally tempted by their battered fish butty with tartare sauce and chunky chips.  We will be going back for one of these.  My only complaint?  Too much parsley.

If you live near to Altrincham or are visiting I would highly recommend a visit to The Victoria.  A lovely atmosphere, delicious and inventive dishes and ‘bread for mopping’!  Oh, and you can’t miss it – the whole building is painted mint green!

I completely forgot to tell you that our lovely Little Heath Farm were featured as one of the producers on last week’s Great British Menu. 

Their pork was used in Aiden Byrne’s main course of oak-roasted middle white pork with broad beans and wild mushrooms. 

Sadly Aiden didn’t make it through to the final – it would have been great to see one of our local producers have their produce cooked for the Prince of Wales.

So, I must confess, I was hoping tonight to share a lovely meal N and I had last night at a fab new restaurant in Manchester…however, it appears I have left our camera with all the great images of our meal in our car…which in turn is in the garage having its exhaust fixed.

Fingers-crossed the car will be back tomorrow and along with it the camera. Then I shall share some scrumptious food, including a divine wild mushroom pate and a savoury steamed pudding.

This is just a quick post to share with you a couple of cool things I’ve stumbled across on the web this week, and thought that they might be of interest to others.  Am hoping to head out into the garden later today (I see blue sky peeking through the clouds!), and I desperately need to rescue my peas as they are listing to one side after the terrible winds we’ve had this week.  I also have a few pictures of my ‘Local Food Celebration’ from Tuesday night to share so will try and post them later.

In the meantime, I found this website called Dinner4Good, which allows you to raise money by having dinner with your friends.  From what I can see, you invite your friends round for dinner in aid of a charity, and your friends donate money through the website.  The website allows you to send invites and for your friends to donate via it, so there’s no awkward moment at your dinner party where your rattling a bucket asking for loose change.  The Soil Association are linked up with the website, which is how I found out about the website, so get cooking people and raise some money for your favourite charity!

The other neat thing I found this week is a fun poster guide to eating seasonally from the website Eat Seasonably.  I love the design of it and how it almost looks/reads like a poem.  Print off a copy and stick it up in your kitchen.

eatseasonably

p1060682

Two summers ago we went to Sweden for a family wedding.  We decided to make it into our summer holiday as it seemed like a long way to go for a wedding.  We travelled by boat to Denmark with our little car, then drove around a large part of the west coast of Sweden.  At the time, it felt exhausting, and by the time we got back we weren’t sure it had felt much like a holiday.

Now as I look back on our time there and the experiences we had, it was actually quite a lovely holiday.  Despite the terrible weather and the hours and hours of driving, we ate some lovely food and saw some fantastic things.  It is an amazing country and somewhere I would definitely like to return to one day.

We sailed from Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark, then drove along the E20 through Denmark to Copenhagen.  We crossed the huge bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo – our first stop in Sweden.  Our parks conference the February before we went away had included a speaker from Malmo, and it inspired me so much I knew we had to visit. 

the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo

the bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo

Everywhere that we stayed on our journey along the coast was a member of the Bo på lantgård – ‘staying on a farm’ – http://www.bopalantgard.org.  Our first farm was Vragerups Gård (http://www.vragerup.se/) in the countryside outside Malmo.  It was an idyllic farmhouse with beautiful furnishings and we really didn’t want to leave. 

Vragerups Gard, near Lund

Vragerups Gard, near Lund

In terms of eating out our plan was to drive around and see what looked nice, which means on one hand you might find a real gem of a restaurant, but on the other hand it could be dire.  Our first night we found this place…

Kallbadhus in Bjarred

Kallbadhus in Bjarred

It couldn’t have been a more stunning location, and the food was equally nice.  I have managed to find out that the restaurant is called Kallbadhus (this might be the name of the whole complex) or Kalendarium, but it is also Sweden’s longest swimming pier (http://www.kallbadhus.se/).

p1060669

Nearby to where we were staying, we discovered this unusual village, which we think it styled on a medieval style town.  It felt like a film set, especially as it was seemingly deserted.

unsual medieval style town

unusual medieval style town

We had a somewhat miserable day out in Malmo as it rained, and rained and rained.  So much for visiting parks – we ended up on a coach tour of the city, which was not quite what we were hoping, but there wasn’t much choice short of getting soaked.  We did also discover a cluster of craft workshops and a quaint sweet shop – perfect for gifts for younger brothers!

 

Malmo before the rain

Malmo before the rain

Our plan the next day, with storm clouds looming, was to head for the sun and blue clouds wherever they were on the horizon.  This worked out quite well, and we came across a little cafe-cum-farm shop.  We sat in a beautiful glasshouse and ate tea and cake under a canopy of kiwi fruit!

canopy of kiwis

canopy of kiwis

That evening, we found a lovely little restaurant in a nearby town and enjoyed a great meal.  That was until the roof above me sprung a leak, which turned into a waterfall, and the whole restaurant was swamped!  We sat in the car wondering what kind of holiday we were on…

rain rain go away

rain rain go away

One thing that Swedish hospitality does well is a fantastic spread for breakfast: cooked meats, jams, compotes, fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheeses, and breads including the dark rye breads.  I fell in love with what I like to call pillow bread, what it’s real name is I’m not sure – but it’s soft, flat, with dimples in it like a sofa.  I ate a lot of it during this holiday, and brought a lot back with us. 

breakfast at Vragerups Gard

breakfast at Vragerups Gard

As we travelled up the coast and slightly inland to our next stop – an incredible looking colonial style house – there was more rain…

rain

rain

Drip, drip, drip, little april showers…

and more rain

and yet more rain

We started to see signs for a vaffle stuga (spelling probably not quite correct) and ended up in a log cabin deep in a huge forest eating waffles!  They were delicious and it was nice to sit inside by a fire while it drizzled outside.  There was a hamlet of houses selling artisan made items and we came away with a lovely rug that now sits in our living room.

the waffle house

the waffle house

Hults Gard (http://www.hultsgard.com/) the next place we stayed, looked beautiful, but our room was small and felt like we were staying in a hostel.  One of the things I enjoyed most about the incredible amounts of driving that we did, was it meant we could watch the landscape change – from the rolling farmland and towns near Malmo, to dark evergreen forests, then through great expanses of farmland with railroads, and finally to the rocky coastal islands with their clapboard fishing villages.

 

Hults Gard

Hults Gard

The wedding was held in a fairytale castle near Gothenburg and was a whole weekend of eating and celebrating.  We were treated to a gourmet meal featuring some delicious Swedish dishes – sadly no pictures.

the wedding castle, near Gothenburg

the wedding castle, near Gothenburg

Our final leg of the journey took us further up the coast and out onto an island.  We were staying at a strawberry farm called Tyfta Ostergård (http://www.lekander.nu/eindex.html) which had the perks of fantastic jams and compotes for breakfast. 

Tyfta Ostergard - the strawberry farm

Tyfta Ostergard - the strawberry farm

It was run by a lovely family with three generations of the family living and working there together.  The guest accommodation including a lovely kitchen and sitting room were decorated with that impeccable Swedish knack for style.

effortless Swedish style at Tyfta Ostergard

effortless Swedish style at Tyfta Ostergard

It was out on these islands that we had our best meals of the holiday.  It was also probably the poshest and most expensive meal that we have ever eaten – but worth every penny.  Situated on the “herring island” of Klädesholmen is Salt & Sill (http://www.saltosill.se), a small restaurant with a stunning view and excellent food. 

the view from our table at Salt & Sill

the view from our table at Salt & Sill

The highlights of this meal by far were the starters.  I wish at the time I had written down exactly what we had eaten, because now I just have the photos as a reminder, but don’t know any of the more interesting details!

Salt & Sill restaurant, Kladesholmen

Salt & Sill restaurant, Kladesholmen

N had a trio of pickled herring, each piece pickled differently, on a different bread or cracker, topped with a different sauce.  Each mouthful was pared with a different shot of snaps. 

trio of herring and snaps

trio of herring and snaps

I chose salmon, which turned out to be THE best salmon dish I’ve ever eaten.  I think that salmon dishes often run the risk of being a bit boring, but this was incredible.  I think it was poached somehow – it was so delicate, and still so pink, and came on a bed of green vegetables with a sauce that I think was broad bean.

THE best salmon

THE best salmon

For mains we had fishcakes and a piece of cod with a foam – sorry I can’t recall the details more accurately.

main courses at Salt & Sill

main courses at Salt & Sill

Desserts were also a highlight.  N had a(nother) trio of handmade truffles with a strawberry coulis. 

trio of handmade truffles

trio of handmade truffles

I had a delicate dish which comprised a miniature panna cotta dusted with vanilla, a chocolate fondue sauce, and a caramelised banana wrapped in filo pastry and finished with a scattering of nuts.  This restaurant would come highly recommended from me to anyone looking to visit this part of Sweden.  It’s not to be missed.

my dessert

my dessert

The island of Tjörn had a wealth of interesting places for ‘foodies’ to visit.  We found a pick-you-own tomato farm!

just a few of the tomato varieties at the pick-your-own farm

just a few of the tomato varieties at the pick-your-own farm

It was run by a lovely couple who showed us around their giant pollytunnel where there were growing unusual organic salads.  I have never seen or heard of some of the incredible vegetables, salads and herbs they were growing, so it was a fantastic experience.  Ever since this experience, I have always loved the idea of setting up a pick-you-own tomatoes, what a fab idea!

salads, herbs and cucumbers

salads, herbs and cucumbers

There was one cafe that I had read about on my internet searches before we left for Sweden that I was determined we would visit.  It is a small cafe-restaurant in the fishing village of Mollösund, which is right on the far tip of an island called Orust.  Café Emma (http://www.cafeemma.com/eng.html) is  a member of the Slow Food movement, and serve homemade food using seasonal and local ingredients. 

Cafe Emma in Mollosund harbour

Cafe Emma in Mollosund harbour

We both had their signature rich fish soup for starters, which is made with saffron, shrimp and two kind of fish.  It was served with bread, aioli and a herb mayonnaise.  I must admit this isn’t the sort of starter I would normally order, but it was incredible. 

fish soup with aioli at Cafe Emma in Mollosund

fish soup with aioli at Cafe Emma in Mollosund

It was a no-brainerwhat N would choose for his main – a homemade burger.  It was served in thin pillow bread, with a fresh tomato salsa and a bean salad.  Who said burgers have to be unhealthy?

homemade beefburger

homemade beefburger

I chose a quinoa salad with asparagus, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, olives, roasted beetroot and micro salad leaves.  This is food to die for.

quinoa salad

quinoa salad

Café Emma serve the kind of food that you never forget.  Food that you dream about.  Food that you spend hours trying to recreate.  These are my food memories.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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