Tuesday, 24 March 2015

How do you taste a Landscape?

A convivial morning was held last week at the Lion Hotel in Tudweiliog, where a group of local people and small tourism businesses addressed the question of how to convey a unique food offer to visitors. In a world where so much food seems to be International and hotel and pub dishes seem the same the country over, how do we provide something unique to this locality when visitors come? We're very fortunate on the Llyn to have such excellent seafood, and on the rare occasions that we cook food for customers then we normally offer crab bisque, roll mop herrings and seafood terrine followed by salmon en croute. Of course, in reality, not all these ingredients will come from the Llyn and it would be nice to expand this offering and to make use of the wild flowers and herbs that are abundant locally. We were fortunate in having Carl Legge, a noted local food writer, who kept us all entranced with his enthusiasm and detailed knowledge. We sampled potato gratin with lemon balm, egg frittata with nettles (surprisingly good, even when cold), wild leaf salad and local welsh cheese.

 The square white dish contained a nettle frittata - an egg dish made with, of all things, cooked stinging nettles. The cooking process takes away their ability to sting, so it was actually delicious with an unusual flavour. Next to the frittata, in the circular dish, was a potato gratin flavoured with lemon balm which added a surprising citrus freshness. Further down the table we have a crab pate, admittedly not my favourite as crab has quite a strong flavour. The salad was brightened up with edible primrose flowers. Finally, the hexagonal dish contained a ricotta cheese made with local milk and spiced up with wild garlic, which went really well with the home made sour dough bread and rye crackers in the top left of the picture.

 Carl also brought along a selection of his home made preserves and chutneys. These went fabulously with the salad and welsh cheese. He also provided tips on how to make them. The apple cider vinegar seems particularly straightforward as it can be made with windfalls and left over apples.
The next course was some of his home made liqueurs, of which the blackberry whiskey was a particular hit around the table.
 The last course was gorse-flower ice cream, sadly beginning to melt, which tasted of coconut.
Carl in the centre of the picture
Are these traditional Llyn foods? Probably not, but does it matter? They are of the landscape being made of local ingredients, and a place can be quoted for each ingredient which gives the visitor a sense of identity which is much sought after.
So, in future at Manaros, for celebratory meals we will offer the blackberry whiskey liqueur as an aperitif and a foraged salad and a hot nettle frittata. Then perhaps the gorse flower ice-cream and a sloe gin to finish. What do you think? Perhaps we should offer these things as an alternative - a liquer, a special foraged salad and a special ice cream and perhaps some home baked rye bread as an additional extra, something to try, rather than a main item in the meal? It should be a great talking point.

1 comment:

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