Sunday, September 30, 2007

Attempting to Cook a Locally Sourced Lunch in Bristol, England

A noble First Attempt:

picture photograph image Beef Dripping from Gloucestershire England 2007 copyright of sam breach
Beef Dripping from a farm in Gloucestershire way, way under 100 miles away

Today marks the end of the September 2007 Eat Local Month and so I had better quickly squeeze out the post I promised about producing a locally sourced Sunday lunch in Bristol, England last weekend.

My answer would be that we got off to a good start and we found some good sources for locally farmed products. It was definitely the beginning of the learning experience, though, and we came across brick wall for several items we'd hoped we would be able to buy locally. If I lived in Bristol and was able to do more research and make this challenge into an ongoing project I am certain I would be able increase the amount of local products in my parents' fridge and pantry as I learned where they might be sourced. For the sake of last Sunday's lunch we researched, we learnt, we ate, we were a family together and we had a great time.

picture photograph image Fried Green Tomatoes Bristol England 2007 copyright of sam breach
When I was growing up my parents grew a lot of our food. Half of our large garden was given over to a vegetable patch and we also had an allotment only about 10 minutes walk away from where we lived too. When my parents moved into their current house 21 years ago, they lost all of their garden space. But they have greenish fingers (unlike me) and still manage to grow a few items in pots and containers including blackberries, blueberries, herbs, rhubarb, tomatoes and even peppers. Unfortunately the tomatoes were taking a long time to ripen this year which is how they became the inspiration for our first dish:

Fried Green tomatoes with Red Pepper Dressing:

1) Green tomatoes - grown in my parents' back yard
2) Whole wheat flour - Milled in Shipton 27 miles away. Much of the wheat they mill is English but some of it is from as far away as Canada.
3) Beef Dripping from Gloucestershire - not sure exactly where but most likely under 30 miles away.
4) Salt and Pepper - not local - not sure why my mother doesn't use Maldon Salt (produced 171 miles away)?
For the Red Pepper 'Dressing' (which is Sam Speak for failed 'aioli'):
5) Red Pepper - grown in my parent's glass-covered porch
6) Organic Safflower Oil (label suggested it was British but not 100% clear as the label wording is ambiguous and it may only have been bottled in Britain)
7) Duck egg - locally laid 14 miles away at Cotswold Edge Farm in Old Sodbury.

picture photograph image Sedlescombe Organic English Wine England 2007 copyright of sam breach
A picture of calm amongst the clutter of the kitchen
Sedlescombe English Organic Wine 175 miles away

picture photograph image Venison from Deer Shot on the Badminton Estate 2007 copyright of sam breach
Venison Roasting in the oven
Neither mum or I had cooked venison before but it was a huge success. I first smothered it with some beef dripping and after a while in the oven splashed some port over it too. I basted regularly. In the last half hour of cooking time I added some red currants. Once the haunch was cooked and resting I made a pan sauce from the resulting mixture of meat juices, dripping, port and red currants to which I added some cream and brown sugar. We served the meat with some wickedly creamy potatoes gratin (cream in England so totally whips the arse of American cream, you have to eat as much of it as possible whilst you are there), and a great cabbage recipe with subtle overtones of cumin and coriander that my mum apparently pilfered from my sister (but to which I suggested the addition of bacon which I think was a genius move). I don't have that recipe (yet), I am going to have to ask one of them to blog it for me and then I'll report back here.

picture photograph image Venison with Redcurrant and Port, Potatoes Gratin and Savoy Cabbage with Bacon 2007 copyright of sam breach
Venison with Redcurrant and Port, Potatoes Gratin and Savoy Cabbage with Bacon
Venison with Redcurrant and Port, Potatoes Gratin and Savoy Cabbage with Bacon:

1) Haunch of Venison from deer shot by this guy on the nearby Badminton Estate, 16 Miles away
2) Potatoes, British, but not local, which we couldn't find this time. These supermarket potatoes came from Shropshire which is about 130 miles away.
3) Supermarket Red currants came from Norfolk which is about 250 miles away.
4) Port - not local at all - from Portugal!
5) Cabbage - from the Walled Garden 17 miles away.
6) Bacon - was British - we could have bought fabulous-looking locally produced bacon at the market but because mum had some British supermarket bacon already in the fridge that she needed to be used up, we utilised that instead this time.
7) Supermarket British Cream for the Potato Gratin, exact origin unknown.
8) Nutmeg, Coriander and Cumin, + Seasonings + Brown Sugar - none local.
9) Beef Dripping (again) - locally produced in Gloucestershire
10) Chicken stock - origin unclear (mum had run out of homemade and we didn't have time to make any from scratch.)
11) Garlic - Spanish was all we could find this time.
picture photograph image Welsh Rarebit with Cheeses from Bath England 2007 copyright of sam breach
The Cheese Course - Welsh Rarebit with two Bath Cheeses

1) Organic bread baked locally at Bordeaux Quay 4.3 miles away, (flour origin unclear).
2) Wyfe of Bath Cheese - Bath Soft Cheese Company 12 miles away.
3) Bath Blue - from Bath Soft Cheese Company 12 miles away.
4) Fresh Sage - grown in my parents' back yard.
5) English Ale - I didn't take notes on which one.
6) Colman's English Mustard - made in Norwich since 1814, 230 miles away.
7) Ducks Egg - locally laid 14 miles away at Cotswold Edge Farm in Old Sodbury.
8) Supermarket shallots - British.
9) Lettuce - from the Walled Garden 17 miles away.
10) Chutney - made at the Walled Garden 17 miles away, but origin of the ingredients unknown.

This Welsh Rarebit was made using a favourite recipe that I have blogged before, which came from Delia Smith (who, like Colman's mustard, is also from Norwich, 230 miles away!)
picture photograph image Scrumped apple fool 2007 copyright of sam breach
Scrumped Apple Fool

1) Cooking Apples scrumped 14 miles away
2) Brown Sugar - not local
3) Organic Dorset Double Cream from Manor Farm, 59 miles away.
4) Organic white sugar - not local
5) vanilla pod - not local
6) Cornflour - origin not noted.
7) Ducks Egg - locally laid 14 miles away at Cotswold Edge Farm in Old Sodbury.

(I will share the actual recipe for this dessert , another day, in a separate post.)

Locavore purists might judge our attempt at eating locally in Bristol, which was by no means perfect, to be a failure but I would disagree. The major ingredients for each course all came from within just 20 miles away, which puts the Bay area's 100-mile eating local limit to shame in some respects. But, of course, the UK is a different beast to California, much more densely populated with a lot of farming happening in the countryside closely surrounding the larger cities. After all, you can't drive 5 minutes anywhere in Britain without seeing cows and sheep grazing on the luscious green landscape.

I enjoyed taking this September 2007 Eat Local challenge in a less familiar environment - not only did I learn a lot - it tasted good too. I wish I could eat it for Sunday lunch all over again today...

Other Resources & Further Reading
Mum's Take on the same meal
Local Produce Market, Westbury-On-Trym, Bristol
The Better Food Company & Barley Wood Walled Garden
A Cute Local Deli called Taste we stumbled upon on our way to Bristol Airport last week.
My own Eat Local Bristol Challenge
Bristol Local Food Guide

2006 | Restaurant Girl Speaks
2005 | A Vegan Downfall
2004 | Olive, San Francisco

© 2007 Sam Breach
Attempting to Cook a Locally Sourced Lunch in Bristol, England


  • At 30/9/07 11:06, Blogger Caffienated Cowgirl said…

    Oh that venison roast looks delightful! Great effort on the locally sourced...

  • At 30/9/07 11:06, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    after a break on blog browsing for my new job, this is the perfect post to be welcomed back to. What an inspirational lunch!
    Being from canada, 'locally sourced' has a much looser meaning for me, as I'm happy to try my best to keep all purchases within the UK and feel like I'm doing my bit.
    Thanks for giving me a lovely reading experience sam!

    Hand to Mouth

  • At 30/9/07 18:17, Blogger Kevin Kossowan said…

    I don't know how to say this without sounding like a snob or providing generally useless information, but I'm excited to see venison on a blog, and have to throw it out there: if you like venison, put calf [that's nursing/milk-fed] moose on your to-do list of things to try in your lifetime. I know. Where the hell do you get that? My house, for one. It's venison meets veal, and is a seriously superior game meat to anything else, imho. Good on ya to give venison a go!!!

  • At 30/9/07 19:28, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm so impressed that you're eating local in Bristol! It sounds like a fun project for the whole family...

  • At 30/9/07 19:41, Blogger FaustianBargain said…

    dear sam..i so miss english dairy.

    and totally whips american cream's arse because american heavy whipping cream is only 36% butterfat..while the beloved DC(double cream) in england is a whopping 48%.

    and dont believe what the french say...their dairy sucks compared to england's glorious cream. altho' they do make killer cheeses..but thats for another day!

  • At 30/9/07 20:02, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    May I ask what "drippings" are? My husband is English, but he only eats Alpen all day. Anything food-related is "horrible" to him.

  • At 30/9/07 20:16, Blogger Sam said…

    CC - it was delicious indeed - thanks for the local encouragement

    B - I was liked the idea of "Buying British". Marks & Spencer's big selling point used to be that everything they sold was made in Britain. Sadly no longer the case...

    Kevin - if you are excited about Venison - I have no problems at all with that. Are there any moose in CA?

    Jennifer - well - I think most of the family got the fun part from the eating rather than doing which was mainly me and mum. It kept me out of trouble though.

    FB - When it comes to cream I certainly don't take any crap from the French. They are cream whimps across the channel

    Anon here is the dripping explanation, hope that helps!

  • At 30/9/07 23:31, Blogger Tea said…

    Isn't it interesting how you have to start all over in the eat local game in each new place? I've had to do much the same in Seattle and find that, perhaps as with you, some things can be found from quite close, other things (citus, olive oil) just aren't available. It's all about doing what you can.

    I'm impressed you took this on--and what great results. Your lunch looks delicious!

  • At 1/10/07 00:23, Blogger ChrisB said…

    I enjoyed our meal over again- oh and you forgot we grow loganberries as well.

  • At 1/10/07 02:58, Blogger Beccy said…

    I'm sure I would have enjoyed it...if I'd been there!

  • At 1/10/07 07:12, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have many of the same issues unfortunately. In this part of Texas it's nearly impossible to go completely locally grown. One, the soil here doesn't bode well for many kinds of organics, and almost all proteins with the exception of chicken, catfish and crappie (it's a fish!) are shipped in from other parts of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma or even California.

    If we're lucky enough to get stationed where we want to be on the next round. (Travis AFB, California), I'll be able to do the "local food" thing much more easily.

  • At 1/10/07 09:48, Blogger Kitt said…

    Brava! It all looks locally delicious.

    (And thanks for the comment on my frozen yoghurt. At least the dairy and berries were local!)

  • At 1/10/07 11:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I too love venison, and totally agree about English cream. It is amazing - so way above and beyond what we in the US call cream it isn't funny.
    On a synchro note I bought local duck eggs Friday at the Oakland Farmer's Market and have been enjoying them immensely. Almost bought balut accidentally, but squeeked by that and landed on the duck eggs instead.

  • At 1/10/07 12:14, Blogger Dagny said…

    That all looks utterly delicious. I really should go out shopping because now I am beyond hungry.

  • At 1/10/07 21:37, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    Sounds good Sam - glad you made it home! :-)

  • At 2/10/07 07:02, Blogger Sam said…

    tea - and I heard you were back? Maybe you'll have to do it all again in SF!

    chrisb - thanks for reminding me.

    beccy - we might not have enjoyed the smaller portions though ;)

    jerry - i will keep my fingers crossed for you getting that stationing

    dagny - sorry - can you do some shopping for me whilst you are at it!

    me too, alice, me too!

  • At 3/10/07 01:48, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    For local produce in Bristol, I recommend one of the weekly farmers' markets in Bristol.

    There's a farmers market every Wednesday at St Nicholas markets, and the world's first regular slow food market takes place on the first Sunday of every month:

  • At 3/10/07 05:09, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very interesting post. Even though it's October, I think I'm up for the challenge to cook a locally grown meal. I just want to be sure - is the limit everywhere 100 miles from where you live? If that's the case, I live in Brooklyn. There's alot of ground covered within 100 miles of here. Either way, great post. Amy @

  • At 3/10/07 10:22, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very very well done! I should really make myself do the same thing - create a meal out of all local produce! I'm meeting Alice Waters this afternoon and she would be proud! My coeditor tried frying green tomatoes but they didn't come out quite like yours!

  • At 16/10/07 13:19, Blogger ExpatChef said…

    It looks like a beautiful meal to me! Working on the Eat Local Challenge site, it's likely good news to many that ELC is about doing what you can to eat locally without 100-mile limits that are more of a barrier than a help. Even if you choose one local ingredient, it's a good thing for us all. Once you get into it, though, you find the quality and flavor of such local ingredients is addictive and you are forever spoiled for anything less. Fine meal!

  • At 21/10/07 03:55, Blogger fanny said…

    Hi Sam,
    it's been a long time since I haven't read your blog in depth(usually do it through google news).
    And gosh, your writing is absolutely divine.
    Your lunch sounds delicious and makes me want to go back home and cook with my mum during a cold winter day.

    - fanny


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