On Saturday I took the quick train journey from Nottingham to Burton on Trent , .Once the heart of brewing for the UK, brewery buildings still dominate the town but the yeasty smell in the air is more often attributable to Marmite production these days.
i WAS heading to a small restaurant 5 minutes from the train station , 99 Station St to meet with. Well I am not sure what the collective noun for bloggers is, I’m going to say bounty of bloggers , 10 members of the Midlands Food Bloggers a group set up by Jo’s Kitchen to allow regional food bloggers to connect and share tips on local food providers and producers.The visit was arranged by Louise of Comida y Vida
99 Station St was a fantastic choice , a Modern British restaurant run since 2008 by Ross and Susan Boardman with a focus locally sourced seasonal food. They make just about everything they can in house, ice cream, sausages pies and this commitment to local produce and production has gone a step further in the last year or so with a launch of their range of sausages pies moked products charcuterie Staffordshire Fine Foods . Stockists can be found online
We enjoyed a lovely relaxed meal talking about food and where exactly is the Midlands not sure we quite reached a consensus but take not London newspaper editors it does not include either Norfolk or Cambridgshire. After a quick chat with chef Daniel Pilkington, we headed for a trip to the Boardmans’ home for a speedy masterclass in Staffordshire Fine Foods techniques of brining curing and smoking
I knew I was going to be in trouble for not taking Nick along , he has long harboured the desire to get into smoking going to far as to make his own bread bin hot smoker last year which was rather put to shame by Staffordshire Fine Foods example. I was amazed how little smoke was leaking out, perhaps I could secrete one in our tiny back garden.
Ross is knowledgeable , passionate and enthusiastic about the proccess involved in developing and producing the SFF range aided by an enviable library of books and off course some online resources. I was please to see many of the books are already on our bookshelf Hixs Chop House, Nose to Tail , Charcuterie ) a few more are definitely going on the wishlist.
The group has opportunity to sample a range of products ; pigeon breast , venision & salmon as well as some chorizo part of their newly launched charcutierie range.
I think the UK is definitely catching up with places like Spain and Italy in our use and appreciation of curing and smoking. We have such great meat in this country and modern technology – like these cabinets which can maintain a constant temperature and humidity are overcoming the fact that we are not naturally blessed with the ideal climate for drying quality salamis.
After samples and leaving a hunk of chorizo simerring in chicken stock, we headed off for a foraging walk in the local woods. Being in the woods made me realise I have neglected foraging this Spring bar a short trip out for some wild garlic and some St Georges Mushrooms)
The woods typical for June were stuffed with english wild greens ,wild, Garlic, Nettles, ground elder , elderflower. Ross foraged some wild greens and washed nettles and wild garlic were added to the chicken stock to producing a lovely wild green soup.
On parting we Ross was generous enough so give a sample of chrorizo from their new collection.
Inspired by our foraged feast , and to comfort a slightly miffed Nick I made caldo verde, a portugese green broth usually containing smoky pork sausage potatoes onions and kale but often with some . I make this dish a lot in winter with spanish chorizo and kale but this is a Spring version I went for some fresh Spring green, broad beans & wet garlic
British Summer Caldo Verde
100g of Staffordshire Fine Foods Dry Chorizo
1.5 pints of chicken stock (chicken stock out of the freezer )
1 large onion finely sliced
1 bulb of wet garlic finely chopped ( ro two cloves of regular garlic)
1 large potato roughly chopped
2 large bunches of spring greens leaves removed from stems and roughly chopped
2 handfuls of broad beans removed from the pods but not shelled
1/2 a fresh lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
- Simmer the chorizo in a large chunk in the chicken stock with the onions , garlic & potatoes for an hour at least ( I used my slow cooker on low for a few hours)
- Remove the chorizo and cut into chunks , return to the pan and turn up the heat to a medium simmer add the spring greens and broad beans
- Simmer for ten minutes serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and ground black pepper.