10:50 am, March 22, 2013
- Farm Butchery NOW open next to the egg pod – Good Friday 29th March, 8-5pm
- Order and fetch at Edinburgh Farmers Market Saturday 30th March & every Saturday 9-2pm
- Courier orders dispatched on Wednesday 27th to arrive on Thurs 28th March
- Visit us at Perth Farmers Market Saturday 6th April 9-2pm
Oops how did that happen? Easter is nearly here.
I don’t have much to say about this spring so far, its wet muddy and cold. However you didn’t need me to tell you that. Farming is a bit tricky – we have to be patient and catch up on all those maintenance jobs that always get put on the long finger. In the meantime there’s a holiday weekend coming up and we’re busy in the butcheries. We have lots of lamb available and even a sneaky bit of mutton on the go. Just ask. We’ve plenty of beef, pork and chicken also of course if lamb isn’t your thing.
Order ahead of time and fetch at the farm butchery or our Egg pod from Wed 27th onwards. If you call in on Good Friday just head into the farm butchery next to the egg pod. Moray, the butcher, is there to cut what you want or hand over your order.
There are 3 combinations that really work for roasting lamb. The traditional lamb studded with rosemary and garlic is top of the heap but if you are feeling adventurous substitute root ginger slivers or anchovies for the rosemary. Just for a change, and to challenge Grannie’s tastebuds. Happy Holidays.
Sustainable Types: The Chef
9:21 pm, March 1, 2013
This month I’m interviewing someone who’s had a real influence on what we do here at Newmiln Farm.
Neil Forbes, a former Scottish chef of the Year, has been a long standing customer of ours, and his restaurant, Cafe St Honoré, has recently won the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s award for Society. A fitting tribute, showing that small businesses can be materially successful, source sustainably, and contribute to their local community
Neil and I first met on chilly January day at Edinburgh farmers market in 2007. He tried our produce and I’ve been speaking to him every week since then. Cafe St Honoré, in Edinburgh’s New Town, his permanent home for the last 2 years, is a lovely place. Its unpretentious, and very rooted in an Edinburgh tradition of hidden gems. Its a place to lose an afternoon over the longest of lunches, the food is unfussy and lovely with clean, simple flavours allowing the best of Scotland’s ingredients to shine.
For Neil it seems thats what its all about. I went to see him on a Saturday morning, coffee was poured and we spoke. He told me about his childhood memories around food, tugging on his father’s apron strings as he cooked classic French country food. “My father was a pastry chef, and a teacher. He loved the French food culture and family holidays were spent in rural France, indulging that passion, visiting markets and tasting and trying regional food. Its where I first understood the concept of provenance and learnt respect for produce. Cassoulet: thats the dish that best defines it, and my father’s is the best”.
Teaching is a central part of Neil’s days, there’s always a new person in the kitchen doing work experience when I deliver. As he says, “If I don’t do it who will? I have a duty to pass on my knowledge & skills to the next generation of chefs. The act of showing someone how to do something new is rewarding. You see the light dawn in another’s eyes as they realise a new skill for the first time. Its great”.
So who taught Neil?
“I learnt so much from my father, and Andrew Radford, owner of the now closed Atrium, put his faith in me to run things there, I worked for David Wilson of the Peat Inn, and Nick Nairn amongst others”. He cites his influences as not just chefs though, and he mentions Donald Reid and Fiona Richmond from the local branch of the Slow Food movement. He has them to thank for opening his eyes to the Slow way of doing things & leading him to his trip to Terra Madre in Turin in 2006. There the themes of provenance, and great food being about simplicity, the ingredients & the story, came together. Neil describes it as a ‘punch in the gut’. It was a Eureka moment for me and it changed my life, everything, how I think, how I live, and critically how I cook and run Cafe St Honoré today”.
I ask Neil if he follows food trends. There’s a firm ‘no’ & he tells me about about food made to look like sand, & I’m laughing. “There are no waterbaths here. Don’t follow fashion, carve your own path. There’s a growing network of people & businesses in and around Edinburgh who recognise the value in the sustainable approach to food.”
We do talk about Horsegate briefly & I ask him about our biggest food problems: “Bad, cheap food, over-eaten, over-marketed, & over-rated.” And our solutions: “Supporting more independent businesses”.
We move on, to more frivolous things.
- Salt or Sweet: “Salt”
- Favourite Food: “Roast chicken & bread sauce”
- Beer or Wine? “Beer”
- Anything left to learn? “Lots, I’m always learning”
Personal food goal for 2013: “Consistently great, honest, food with integrity”
We then speak briefly about the emotional dimension to cooking. “I’m a hopeless romantic, I get to use all my senses in what I do each day and so no two days are the same. I’m always experimenting and I do have off days when it doesn’t quite work. But I love it.”
If it sounds like Neil is quite serious, nothing could be further from the truth, he’s affable and friendly, and has a reputation as an approachable person who likes a bit of banter in the course of getting the job done.
We wrap up. It’s time for Neil to go and butcher the lamb I brought in with me. He was kind enough to share some recipes with me. Here’s the one for his roast chicken and bread sauce, a Sunday roast for everyone; no pretensions & little effort. Simple and delicious.