Riverford Field Kitchen

On Saturday I finally got around to eating lunch at the Riverford Field Kitchen. I’ve been a Riverford customer for 2 1/2 years, and I’ve been to their events in London, like a couple of their supperclubs and the dinner in a yurt they had last year, but I’d never visited the farm before.

I was with my parents on the way back from Cornwall. On the way there we actually stopped at the farm and did their farm tour, guided by owner Guy Watson via an MP3 player given to us at the restaurant. Staff at the restaurant were really friendly and offered to squeeze us in for lunch even though it was a busy Saturday and we hadn’t booked. Instead, we ended up booking for the following Saturday.

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Jane Baxter was in the kitchen and her cooking was as delicious as ever. It was a very new experience for my parents who weren’t used to communal seating or family style service – with the amount of supperclubs I go to this just felt normal to me! Less normal however were the people sitting next to me, the only blot on an excellent experience – the woman at the end of my table jiggled constantly throughout the meal. It was like eating in an earthquake. Her toddler screamed all the way through too, encouraged by the amount of attention from his parents it attracted. When I first arrived I thought it was lovely how well the Field Kitchen accommodates families, with baby seats that hook onto the tables, but by the time I left I wasn’t so sure.

Most of the time I tuned out those irritations thanks to the excellent food:

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Dad absolutely loved the duck, and I had an impressive vegetarian option:

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Dad in particular was impressed by the way all of the vegetables were presented – he said he didn’t know vegetables could taste so good! I did.

Having read other people’s reviews of the Field Kitchen I was forewarned to leave enough space for pudding, and I was glad I did. I chose the irresistible sticky toffee pud, but Mum’s choice of crumble was also incredible, and the custard so, so good.

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Restaurant Ramble

Last week I went on the Restaurant Ramble, organised by Kirsty of Ethical Eats at Sustain in conjunction with the Sustainable Restaurant Association.

Full disclosure: as you probably know I work at Sustain on the Real Bread Campaign so I’m not even going to attempt to be impartial.

Basically, the idea of the night was to have a progressive dinner at four different members of the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Kirsty’s already blogged the event so I’m just going to nick her description:

Ramblers met at the Duke of Cambridge Organic Pub, for an aperitif of crostini including Home Smoked Trout with Horseradish and Marinated Baked Ricotta with Mint and Tapenade accompanied by Organic Sloe Gin with Lemonade. Guests then followed the leader to walk 500 meters to The Charles Lamb. We enjoyed a starter of Chegworth Valley Apple Tarte-tatin with Black Pudding or Blue Cheese served with garden fresh leaves perfectly matched with Furrow Hill Somerset Cider.

We were then whisked away by London Pedicabs to The Clerkenwell Kitchen. We were presented with a “gorgeous” Fish Stew with Ailoi or Aubergine & Tarragon Gratin with Berkswell Cheese served with perky, peppery watercress and sour dough flutes all washed down with the delightful Chapel Down Flint white wine. Finally, a short stroll to Bistrot Bruno Loubet at The Zetter Hotel for an “amazing” Blackberry and Apple Charlotte followed by the Harvest Chase – a cocktail of Chase Marmalade Vodka, Fresh Pear & Lemon with Rose Hip Foam.

The Chapel Down was a revelation to me – I have slightly bad memories of Chapel Down that come from leading a tour group there during the Great Career Crisis of 2009. I didn’t like any of the wines except the English Rose bubbly, which in itself was surprising since I’m not a huge fan of bubbly. But the Flint Dry was delicious.

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Canapés at the Duke of Cambridge

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Tarte Tatin at the Charles Lamb. This is a wonderful old locals pub that’s been gentrified without losing its charm.

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Playing tourist on a rather hair-raising pedicab ride.

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Blackboard menu at the Clerkenwell Kitchen

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Watercress!

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Interesting lamps at Bruno Loubet

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The Charlotte really was tasty.

Thanks Kirsty and all the restaurants for a great evening, I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Mien Tay

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the launch of the new wine list at Mien Tay Battersea. The wine list has been developed with Willie Lebus of Bibendum and will launch this month, as soon as their alcohol licence comes through.

The wine list is impressively affordable – there are definitely no big markups – and wines are available by the glass, carafe or bottle. There are just 14 wines on the list, along with fizz (Prosecco or Champagne) and sherry. Prices range from £2.50 to £4.50 per 125ml glass, and the most expensive bottle is £20.

We started off with a glass of prosecco, and morsels of Fried Crispy Sea Bass with Lemongrass, Garlic and Chilli, which happens to be my favourite thing on the menu.

I say there were just 14, but it turned out they expected us to try them all, and each came with two different food options – all of the wines have been matched to vegetarian options too. This was going to be quite a challenge. I’ll just mention my favourite wine and food matches.

I couldn’t believe how well our first course of Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onion went with the wine, Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio. The Sea Bass itself was incredible too. The next wine, a Picpoul de Pinet, went very well with the vegetarian spring rolls. The rolls came with a delicious peanut sauce and on my notes I’ve written “best spring rolls I’ve ever tasted!”

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Sea bass

The next wine was a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and despite my loyalty to Marlborough, my home turf (should that be home terroir?), I had to admit it was delicious. I ate fresh seafood rolls with this wine. The rolls were packed with mint but the wine stood up to this very well, with a real gooseberry punch. Salt, pepper and garlic squid was also crunchy and delicious. I love the amount of salt they put in the batter – it’s definitely not heart-healthy food.

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Fresh rolls

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Salt, Pepper and Garlic Squid

Then more rolls came out with an Alamos Mendoza Chardonnay and I’ve written that the wine was an even better match. Tofu with lemongrass and chilli was also a hit.

One more white wine was followed by a rose, a sherry and then we were into the reds. If you’re counting that makes about 7 or 8 glasses of wine so far, though by this stage I was making use of the spittoon. I’m afraid my notes get a little sketchy after this. The evening was clearly deteriorating.

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Helly will possibly kill me for posting this photo.

It was also getting late, and it was time to admit defeat. We abandoned the final courses, and I ended up on a night bus in Trafalgar Square clutching a beautiful tea set to my chest (thank you Mien Tay, it is the tea set of my dreams and I got it home in one piece), wearing a Vietnamese hat, and being pointed at by drunken teenagers. What a glamorous life I lead!

Although Battersea is a bit of a hike for me, I definitely want to go back after the wine list is launched. The fried sea bass haunts my dreams, and I haven’t yet tried their soft shell crab, which is meant to be one of their best dishes. There’s always their Shoreditch branch too though – which as I’m currently working in Hackney, is a definite possibility…