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4:00pm Thursday 7th November 2013
Although Christmas Day is still several weeks away, there are certain items that are best prepared or ordered in advance, such as the Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mincemeat and the festive bird. For those who would like to sample locally-reared turkey and goose, Peach Croft Farm, Radley, is staging its famous Tasting Day from 10am to 3pm this Saturday. This annual event provides us all with a chance to try some of the farm’s scrumptious award-winning Christmas produce, most particularly the free-range turkey and geese that are allowed to develop naturally on grassy paddocks and fields around the farm. By tasting both goose and turkey, visitors to the farm will get the chance to decide whether to go for the nostalgic touch and choose roast goose, as eulogised by Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol or enjoy the glorious white flesh of a Bronze turkey.
11:10am Thursday 31st October 2013
I shall start, for a change, with a side dish — a significant change because I don’t think I have ever done this before. But the vegetable dishes and salads at The Trout at Tadpole Bridge are so much better than one customarily finds — Kenyan green beans and carrot batons, anyone? — that they deserve pride of place in this article.
4:34pm Sunday 27th October 2013
3:00pm Thursday 24th October 2013
The weather is getting colder, bitter winds rattle the windows and the nights are dark — yes Halloween is approaching. Throughout the world this festival, which is thought to date back to pagan times, is celebrated on October 31. It’s seen as the night on which ghosts, witches, goblins and fairies are particularly active due to the barriers between our world and the spirit world being at their weakest.
4:00pm Thursday 17th October 2013
It was award-winning organic farmer Helen Browning’s overwhelming desire to improve the welfare of livestock and maintain a landscape that supported and encouraged wildlife to flourish, that led her to farm organically.
4:00pm Thursday 10th October 2013
There was a happy buzz of activity in the playground as I entered the Wolvercote Primary school grounds last Sunday. This is quite usual on Sunday mornings when the Wolvercote and North Oxford Farmers’ Market is in full swing. With children’s faces adorned with face paint and glitter tattoos, and Henry Mcguinness, the Wolvercote busker, providing background music, the market was particularly jolly.
4:00pm Thursday 10th October 2013
James Martin is flat out. In fact he’s so busy I feel guilty even talking to him. But it’s his own fault for opening a new restaurant, filming a TV documentary, broadcasting Saturday Kitchen, publishing a new cookbook and tackling hospital food all at the same time. So what on earth possessed him? “I’ve got no idea,” he laughed. “Madness? If you still don’t know who he is, he’s the good-looking one from BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, the James Bond of the culinary world, whose love of food comes marginally ahead of his obsession with fast cars and planes. We’ve managed to grab a few minutes between shifts to discuss his upcoming visit to Oxford’s Waterstones to promote his new book Fast Cooking, so will he fly here? “Depends on the weather but I fly, whenever possible, otherwise it would be a long commute from Hampshire [where he lives] to Manchester [where his new restaurant is] and seeing Britain from the air is so memorable. “Cars and planes are my release from everything. I work 24/7 and have done for the last 12 years and need something to switch off,” he says. “So I go flying or sit in a car and just enjoy it. Everyone needs something.” You could be forgiven for thinking that James Martin is living rather a gilded life at the moment. In fact he probably was until he went severely off piste by taking on the mammoth task of trying to revise hospital food, the subject of an ongoing documentary, and a four-year project, which is slowly making progress. So why put himself through that when everything is cruising along so smoothly? “I ask myself that every day, because it’s such a headache and no one really gives a damn. There’s not an easyfix,” he shrugged. “Except that I still believe that patients should be given edible food and it shouldn’t be crap — you can produce healthy food on a budget, and we have made such a difference already. But the food is the easy bit.”
2:55pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013
Those who attended the Thame Food Festival last year don’t need reminding it was a remarkable event which attracted hundreds of foodies, not just from Oxfordshire, but the country. Next week (October 7-13) has been designated National Curry Week, to heighten our awareness of this popular Indian cuisine and create a platform on which to raise funds for charities, concentrating on those who are malnourished and poverty-stricken. Award-winning food writer and actress Madhur Jaffrey opens her latest book Curry Nation (Ebury Press, £20) by stating that “if Britain once colonised India, India has now returned the favour by watching spellbound as its food completely colonised Britain”. Madhur Jaffrey has probably increased our appreciation of curry more than any other celebrity, which is why she has been dubbed Queen of Curry. Her publications include the acclaimed The Curry Bible, which brings together all her years of experience as a cook and which, as the title suggests, contains virtually everything we need to know to produce wholesome, tasty Indian food. Now she brings us a book that highlight 100 of our favourite curries inspired by of cooking of the Punjab, Kerala, Goa and Bengal and a host of other states that conjure up India’s rich diversity of flavour. While the dishes she features are traditional classics she has given many of them a modern twist.
5:37pm Thursday 19th September 2013
Those who attended the Thame Food Festival last year don’t need reminding that it was a remarkable event which attracted hundreds of foodies, not just from Oxfordshire, but the country. This year’s festival, which takes place on Saturday, September 28 in the centre of this historic little market town, promises even more, including demonstrations by an exceptional line-up of chefs led by Raymond Blanc, the festival ambassador. Adam Simmonds, from Danesfield House, Marlow, who represented the South East on BBC1’s Great British Menu this year will be demonstrating, as will Shaun Dickens of The Boathouse in Henley-on-Thames, Chris Godfrey, head chef of Michelin-starred pub The Sir Charles Napier in Chinnor and Mike North of The Nut Tree Inn at Murcott, all cooking inspiring dishes from their menus. Festival patron Lotte Duncan has been involved with the festival since it began in 2008 as just a few food stalls and a cookery demonstration in the town hall. She is amazed at how quickly it has developed into a popular fixture that now compares favourably with major festivals throughout the country. Indeed she was thrilled when it won the Cultural Events and Tourism Award at this year’s Oxfordshire Business Awards in recognition of the festival’s success in attracting visitors to the area and promoting Oxfordshire as both a tourist destination and focus for the cultural events. “One of the special things about the Thame Food Festival is that you’ll see the big-name chefs everyone is talking about side by side with local growers and smallholders. The great thing is that every one of the chefs are taking part because they genuinely want to promote local produce. The Thame Food Festival provides them with the perfect platform,” she says. Lotte goes on to stress just how excited she is about this year’s festival. “We promised it would be bigger and better this year, and with 150 stalls, two demonstration theatres, a pop-up pub, children’s workshops, music, book signings and street food, that’s exactly what we are delivering. It is going to be the biggest festival yet,” she enthuses. “It began as an event for the community and that is still the ethos at the core of everything we plan. It now brings people from far and wide to the town and the surrounding villages together for a celebration of what is grown, produced and cooked in our area.” Real ale fan Jim Crew from Shabbington, near Thame, has made his contribution to the festival by winning a competition organised by the Vale Brewery Company. He came up with the winning name for the festival beer: Thame’In of the Brew. Jim’s idea for the name came from the fact that the beer needed a link to Thame, have a traditional feel to it and yet be nice and simple. Thame’In of the Brew is a 4.1 per cent mid-strength seasonal bitter that’s burnished gold, made with English hops and English malted barley, giving it a truly traditional harvest feel. It will be on tap at the licensed outlets during the festival and remain on sale at watering holes throughout the county for the rest of the month. Street food will be available in plenty too, including an authentic new range of Moroccan sauces and pastes from Belazu who will be serving delicious vegetable terrines and chicken flatbreads from their Mediterranean canteen at the festival. Rumsey’s, the makers of exquisite hand-made chocolates, who run coffee shops in both Thame and Wendover will also be selling their produce. Creative ways to ensure that good food doesn’t go to waste will be demonstrated by the Oxfordshire Waste Partnership who will be teaming up with the Pudding Pie Cookery School to show visitors how to save money and eat well. Those making a pledge to reduce their food waste by signing up to do things like plan their weekly shops, eat leftovers for lunch or make the most of their freezer, will get a free recipe book full of helpful ideas. For full festival details go to www.thamefoodfestival.co.uk
12:00am Thursday 12th September 2013
Have you ever wondered why we eat chillies? I ask because they are not only capable of setting our mouths on fire as they activate the pain receptors in our tongues, but they have no real flavour. Chillies provide a heat sensation painful enough to cause our eyes to water. A glass of water does nothing to dilute the heat. Only a milky drink will help when we chew on a fiery little fruit lurking in a sauce, curry or pickle and even that doesn’t diminish all the pain.
12:00am Thursday 5th September 2013
AT THIS time of the year, when autumn is fast approaching, I find myself travelling the Oxfordshire countryside with Barnaby, my Border collie, in search of dog-friendly pubs that we can enjoy before the cold weather sets in.
12:00am Thursday 29th August 2013
THERE were pies in the early days but although pastry can be traced right back to early Arab cookery, the true art of pastry making, with all its complexities, did not finally emerge until the 17th century.
12:00am Thursday 22nd August 2013
One of the wonderful things about raspberries is the fact that you can go on harvesting some varieties right through to October and those late raspberries are just as sweet as any picked during the height of the summer. The other thing that makes them a special fruit is their ability to hold their shape when frozen and retain that “just picked” look when you thaw them out.
12:00am Thursday 8th August 2013