Undoubtedly, the way to convince the unconvinced of the merits of local produce is through eating. It’s just a fact that not everyone is going to want to get rained on, stain their hands black putting up polytunnels, don STYLISH overalls and ear protectors for a spot of rotavating or break their back planting thousands of cloves of garlic (uh, thanks Joe). One of the things we’re most keen on doing with Cultivate is making the link between the act of eating and the act of growing food visible, visceral and highly enjoyable. “Eating is an agricultural act,” said Wendell Berry. We want to put on feasts of freshness, we want to cook in fields, we want show every step of taking food from field to fork.
Now, although Emma does make a fine veg soup, we’re not what you’d call professional chefs. Luckily we know a few people who are. The first Cultivate dinner cooked up by our friends at Oxfork last week was a trial run of what we hope will be the first of many gastronomic events. We challenged them to come up with a feast of locally-sourced produce at the trickiest time of the year, during the Hungry Gap when winter veg is tailing off but before the new season has really got under way. Not just local, but vegetarian, convivial, beautiful and affordable. Done without blinking an eye-lid. We stood on tables, gave an update on Cultivate’s progress, ate carrot fritters, drank Compass Ale, Joe talked about horticultural strategies for minding the gap, Drew Oxfork MC’d, Chloe Oxfork showed off her collection of recipe books and culinary knowledge with a talk about the meal.
Tasty it was. Thanks everyone. Here’s the menu:
Carrot & Compass Brewery Fritters
Purple Sprouting Broccoli, spring greens, spinach and sorel with wild garlic pesto on Oxford Sourdough with Crudges Haloumi.
Apple, Parsnip & Cotswold Cider Cake w/ Creme Fraiche