THE SET MENU DIGEST

·4 min read
Whelk good: Barbara Windsor  tucks in  (Getty Images)
Whelk good: Barbara Windsor tucks in (Getty Images)

FLOUR POWER

Meet the old-but-new ingredient improving the planet one loaf at a time

In an ideal world, each and every one of us would be as green as can be. The reality, sadly, is that the slog of everyday life can tend to get in the way. But what if there was a delicious and seamless new way to make a hefty difference that wasn’t just carrying around a reusable water bottle? Well, it seems there is.

Wildfarmed by Groove Armada musician and farmer Andy Cato, TV presenter George Lamb and finance whizz Edd Lees is set on improving the planet one loaf at a time. Based on Cato’s pioneering farming methods hat won him France’s prestigious Chevalier L’Order Merit de Agricole award in 2020, Wildfarmed encourages farmers to sew a diverse range of wheat alongside other plants, grasses and legumes grazed on by sheep and cattle, as well as pledging not to use pesticides and to plough the ground as little as possible. The antithesis of industrial farming, this method encourages the recycling of nutrients, ensuring soil becomes more fertile and what is grown is more nutritionally dense.

Wildfarmed breat at Big Jo Bakery (Harry Mitchell)
Wildfarmed breat at Big Jo Bakery (Harry Mitchell)

Now, more than 40 farmers in the UK and France are growing wheat using the method, and the results — flour sold to bakeries and restaurants including Pizza Pilgrims, Jolene, Hide and Padella — are extraordinary. Not only does the flour have a distinctive nutty flavour, but the results extract 380 per cent more CO2 from the air than regular flour. By 2030 it’s predicted the Wildfarmed system will take as much CO2 out of the atmosphere as a rainforest the size of Greater London. If that isn’t a reason to eat more bread, we don’t know what is.

wildfarmed.co.uk

Andy Cato hits to fields (Wildfarmed)
Andy Cato hits to fields (Wildfarmed)

IN DEFENCE OF WHELKS By Richard Corrigan

Whelk good stuff (Getty Images)
Whelk good stuff (Getty Images)

Whelks are very special things indeed, though they can seem daunting to folk who consider them similar to salty slugs. But my goodness, the flavour is some of the finest you’ll find in the ocean. Though there’s nothing worse than a sandy whelk, so ensure you clean them scrupulously by rinsing under cold water. Cook them like we do at Bentley’s, by gently poaching them in a large pan of salted water with a splosh of vinegar and a few sprigs of fresh thyme for two hours. Skim off any impurities that float to the top, and once cooked, let them cool completely and serve with soda bread and Lincolnshire Poacher butter. It’s never going to mimic a tender fillet steak but its firmness is a texture I adore. Long live the whelk!

Richard Corrigan is chef patron of The Corrigan Collection

SEEING RED

Equal parts gin, red vermouth and Campari, scented with an orange twist or wedge, the blazing Red Negroni is a rite of passage for drinkers... once they learn to love its essential bitterness. A firm fanatic of the grown-up drink, Yuma Hashemi has mastered a trio of older takes on the recipe at his cosy, Persian-accented Clerkenwell restaurant, The Drunken Butler. Here, stored in a cabinet taken from his parents’ home in Berlin, Hashemi keeps his most coveted blends from different eras. The first encapsulates spirits from the 1980s, feeling wine-like and toasty with an aftertaste evoking a squirt of Cif lemon. Then, in the 1970s version, one can sense the passing of time in the drink’s leathery aspect, which mingles with the scent of white pepper and juiciness of jelly. The oldest, richest version comes from the 1950s, replete with a surprising lick of white chocolate. Such drinks are ‘mind-blowing’, says Hashemi. ‘I think about someone working to create the components back then, and the person who cared for the bottle.’ For those unaccustomed to the hostile bitterness of a traditional Negroni, try Hashemi’s white version, poured from a silver hip flask. It features plum wine and fresh plums, sake, Finnish gin reaped from a road trip to the Nordic land and white Lillet Blanc.

thedrunkenbutler.com

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

20 & 21 May: North Wales’ answer to Nigella, Xanthe Gladstone, is in town at Layla rustling up a supper of asparagus tart, grilled pollock and lots of fresh vegetables from her garden.

Tickets £45 laylabakery.com

23 May: Make your way to Tayēr + Elementary for a taste of down under by top Australian mixologists Matt Whiley and Luke Whearty, who’ll be serving a menu of six tremendous drinks.

Tickets £45 tayer-elementary.com

26 May: Climb the floors of The Standard for Dinner with Friends, where Native’s Imogen Davis and Ivan Tisdall-Downes will be serving foraged-focused meals alongside wines from Passione Vino. Tickets £100 standardhotels.com

Until 25 June: Natural wine paired with sizzling slices? Count us in. Get down to Vin-Yard on Hackney Road for the collaboration of dreams by pizza mavens Yard Sale and vino aficionados Top Cuvée. resy.com

THE COLLAB

Salivating yet? The Patty & Bun X Norman’s burger (Patty-&-Bun-Normans-JustinDeSouza-5.jpg)
Salivating yet? The Patty & Bun X Norman’s burger (Patty-&-Bun-Normans-JustinDeSouza-5.jpg)

Can’t get a table at Norman’s? Us neither. Hop to Patty & Bun where you can gobble the caff’s limited-edition breakfast inspired cheeseburger complete with hash brown, fried egg and onions. Plus, all of the profits go to Cook for Ukraine.

pattyandbun.co.uk

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