Slow Food movement gathers pace...By Linda Fort
July 06, 2010
The motto of the Slow Food movement is ‘good, clean and fair’.
A new book highlights restaurateurs and producers across the UK who celebrate food grown without chemicals.
Linda Fort talks to two pub owners in Baughurst who are quick to champion the slow...
The Slow Food movement began in Italy founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986.
His aim was to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and promote the farming of crops and livestock characteristics of the locality.
The movement was galvanised by a bid to resist the opening of McDonald’s by the Spanish Steps in Rome.
It has grown into a major force in food production with offices all over the world and believers producing “good, clean and fair” food everywhere – if you care to look for them.
Authors Alastair Sawday and Anna Colquhoun working with the Soil Association – whose imprimatur guarantees the genuinely organic – have published Eat Slow Britain which lauds all that is wholesome in British food production.
And Australian chef Jason King and front-of-house manager Simon Page, who own The Wellington Arms in Baughurst, are thrilled to be in it. Here are some of the mouthwatering things the authors say about the Wellington Arms: “Out in the garden, plum trees cast dappled shade over summertime tables.
“In the raised beds and polytunnel grow squashes, potatoes, cabbages, tomatoes and salad leaves.
“Herbs tumble from pots by the kitchen door.”
And more: “One of his (Jason’s) specialities is crispy fried pumpkin flowers stuffed with ricotta, Parmesan and lemon zest.
“Bagfuls of quinces, plums, apples and damsons are brought by the neighbours to be magicked into chutneys and jams.
“Four Tamworth pigs live happily in the woods behind, on land that is rented in return for a supply of ham and in the adjoining paddocks there are 150 rare breed Welsummer, Matan and Cream Legbar chickens.”
Their menu changes with the seasonal ingredients they can buy.
The authors explain: “Influenced entirely by what is in season as well as what’s growing in their own garden, they always serve new and inventive dishes alongside enduring favourites.
“Local rabbit and wood pigeon terrine with a chutney of Angela’s apples, wild venison stew with shallots and chestnut dumplings, twice baked Marksbury Cheddar soufflé – a favourite of the keen regulars.
“Occasional special dinners indulge Jason’s love of North African, Middle Eastern and south-east Asian flavours.
“Moroccan chicken and apricot stew spiced with his own ras-al-hanout, falafels with harissa and zhoug paste.
“Australian Murray River pink salt (coloured naturally by minerals) is one of the links to his homeland.”
Jason told food monthly: “We are very flattered to be in this wonderful book. We came here five years ago and it is a great honour to be in this prestigious book with all these great food producers and restaurants.”
He went on: “A lot of restaurants say they source their produce locally but when you look more closely you find that they don’t really.
“We are not perfect by a long shot. But we really do mind a lot about where our ingredients come from.”
Simon runs the front of house at The Wellington Arms, making sure everything looks perfect as the diners arrive.
Anyone who cares about food should buy a copy of Eat Slow Britain and carry it around whenever travelling across the country.
With the addition of beautiful pictures, it tells about Dorset oysters and geese, vineyards in Sussex, poultry producers in Lincolnshire, cider and perry-makers in Herefordshire, brewers in Ross-shire and ice cream makers in Dumfries and Galloway. And it points the traveller to restaurants and gastropubs all over the country where slowly nurtured ingredients untouched by agri-chemicals are then cooked with care and a conscience.
- To get a copy of Eat Slow Britain by Alastair Sawday and Anna Colquhoun, visit www.sawdays.co.uk. It costs £19.99.