Category Where we have been…

No fresher than this.

In August myself and my family swapped our usual summer trip to the states for some Caribbean sunshine in Barbados. 


Those of you that have been to Barbados will know that it has an awful lot going for it…the coffee not being one of them! As someone who has barista coffee on tap normally, the exploration of finding somewhere for a decent coffee was an amusing one, but discovering Keshwan in Coffee House Italia (that actually had oat milk) after a few days was a great find. He would have my oat milk flat white ready for me each morning as he saw me arrive, awesome service!


As a chef who works as far away from the sea as possible in the UK, obtaining fish always seems to pose a challenge, which is a shame to me because actually, I prefer cooking fish to meat. It is crazy to me that we live on an island surrounded by water but to get a reliable commercial supplier is one of my biggest barriers. Often my suppliers want to try and throw portions of fish at me rather than fresh whole fish. It is funny because I remember a conversation recently where I called my supplier for a whole fish, they said they couldn’t supply it but they could supply the fillets, baffling. 


We love a good fishing trip when we are on holiday so I was really excited that we were going to have the opportunity to do this and see what the tropical seas had to offer. As per usual my brother Jack was in his element and always catches the biggest fish. We managed to catch some barracuda, which for me with my chef head on was really exciting. Barracudas are a subtropical fish so realistically not something I will be cooking in the UK unless I am ok with the miles it has travelled or have a lot of money to spend. We have caught Barracuda before but have never been able to eat it as what they consume in the seas near Florida can make you really ill, but the sea in Barbados is much cleaner so they are fine. 


I was so happy with my barracuda, we took it back to the dock where I filleted it, wrapped it up in paper and headed off in a taxi back to our villa. There really is something so cool to think of all the processes required to get a fish to a plate at work and I just had my lunch straight out the sea ready to go on the BBQ. Never seen a cargo crate, never seen a delivery van, never seen a fridge. Literally, ocean, taxi, BBQ, plate! Awesome. 


Bucks County Show 2019

When Laura, a good friend of ID, said she was entering the Bucks County Show this year, I was instantly intrigued: what on earth was she actually talking about?! 


After a bit of research, I realised that it was right up our street. A food hall full of local producers as well as some awesome examples of home bakers and gardeners, using and growing local products.
We arrived at about 11:30am and of course made a beeline for the food tent. As a result, this meant that by 11:34am we had already sampled at least three types of Foxdenton Gin, with our particular favourite being the Winslow Plum. A quick browse on their website this morning I am gutted to have missed their Dark Lantern rum so I will certainly be picking one of them up in the future (We’re big fans of rum at IDHQ). 

The food hall was buzzing with people all there for little taste tests of what the producers had to offer. One thing you will always notice if you go to a local food market is the willingness of the producers for you to sample their product. My mum, who accompanied me for the day, questioned at one point if it is worth the exhibitors giving away so much, but knowing what it is like from the other side of the table, you spend so long mastering the products that you just want to share it with everyone. Yes, it is ultimately a sales technique but just a small conversation with any of the artisan producers and you realise just how proud and passionate they are.

After a quick lap of the food hall we moved on to see how Laura had performed in the categories she had entered items into, as well as a quick scope out of some groups we could potentially enter next year (once the ID allotment has more than just mud!). As someone who has adapted very well to suburban life in Milton Keynes I cannot lie, I was instantly taken back to my village roots, seeing all these tables full of cakes, flowers and produce. It was great! Then the educator in me also loved to see how all these people entering each class had interpreted the exact same recipe – apart from the Victoria sponges, they all looked so different. The vegetable cake section particularly caught our eye; courgettes are in abundance this time of year so we could potentially develop an ID courgette cake for next year (although a year development maybe taking it a little too seriously!). We were really proud to see that Laura had come first in class for her lemon curd, but her mum really stole the show with plenty of 1st, 2nd and 3rds. We might have to send Laura in to get some of her recipes! 


All in all, it was a really good day out; later in the day I got chatting with the Buckinghamshire beekeepers and sampled some of their local honey fudge, so that is one item I will definitely be encouraging chef George to re-create. When I went back to the food hall later on, so many producers’ presentations were looking quite bare, which was great to see. 


Now to get planning for next year…