The finale of our trip was lunch at River Cottage HQ. We’ve been to River Cottage for a fantastic day of mushroom foraging in the past as well as to their Autumn festival. So we were keen to introduce Rad of squirrel and hare fame to the delights of Hugh’s rural utopia.
We were given a fascinating tour of the kitchen garden by a charming Chris Evans lookalike who had lots of ingenious suggestions such as:
Grown your seedlings, cress and other micro herbs in guttering. It seems to work brilliantly and is a piece of cake to do.
Try braising the stems of thistles which apparently are delicious.
Use tyres to create unusual containers that are ideal for growing things like potatoes in. The black rubber absorbs the sunshine and therefore keeps the soil warm. Also when it come to harvesting you can just remove a layer of tyres to get to the next level.
Try growing your tomatoes and potatoes in inside out plastic compost bags. It’s a great way of recycling, otherwise wasteful plastic bags.
Rainbow chard looked stunning.
As did the deep red, and slightly seductive, stems of this plant.
The best advice was about how to plan your kitchen garden / allotment. All too often we get a bit overexcited and dive in withouth thinking. We plant rows and rows of potatoes and acres of tomatoes both of which you can buy in the shops. It’s much better to find some interesting varieties of vegetables you love and can’t find in the shops or are expensive, or need to be eaten as soon as they are harvested and concentrate on them. Things like asparagus, raspberries, sweet-corn, squashes and artichokes spring to mind. It’s also well worth developing a strong herb garden and think about planting flowers such as nasturtium which not only taste great in salads but also attract the bugs and therefore save your prize vegetables from getting nailed.
Our tour finished with a casual lunch for 50 in their converted barn. Canapes of rabbit in a light jelly and smoked mackerel pate on a slice of cucumber were deliciously simple and comforting.
And don’t tell Hugh, but we may have nibbled on some of his prize peas as well…
Our main course of uber-local lamb cooked two ways was pretty special too. The shoulder was slow cooked for about a year and half with enough Middle-Eastern spices to deplete a well stocked souk.
Whilst the leg was flash roasted and served beautifully pink. Some slow cooked tomatoes helped to marry the two styles of lamb together, like a squirt of ketchup does with BBQ’d meat…
A slice of cake with fresh English fruit and stiff nutty cream brought our magical meal and adventure around the South West to a memorable close and sent us home wishing we could stay forever at River Cottage.
This is part of our trip around the South West.