Eating Locally

We’ve been chuntering on about eating local food, sourcing sustainable ingredients etc for years now, so I thought it might be a good time to explain why I think this is such a big deal.  All the food that comes out of East Cliff Kitchen (including our brunch club this weekend!) is sourced as locally as possible for a whole load of reasons – some proper science-y ones and some which are a bit more poetic so I’m going to try to cover both.

 

I am really fascinated by place/location – it’s been a bit of a thing for me since I studied architecture (careful, if you let me go on about this stuff for too long, I’ll start dusting off my De Certeau and Walter Benjamin texts and forget all about the food!).  I’ll try to tell you why.  Space is one thing – in fact it’s everything, and having enough of it for ourselves is intensely political – but PLACE… place is how we define the space that IS ours or that relates to us – to our bodies, to our histories And location is how places relate to other places and that is community…. But location is also about locale and localness – the understanding of the characteristics of a place and it’s heritage, it’s special significance.  Now this is not to say that we should get all patriotic and inward-looking, because there are other places too that are just as special and are connected to ours in multiple ways – but here we are now, in whichever place we are in and we should connect to that, celebrate it and really examine it.

Now before I lose you, let me tie this back to food.  Buying, growing, foraging and eating local food is so important because it is a fundamental statement and celebration of PLACE.  You, dear reader, might be anywhere in the world, but we are in Kent – the so-called ‘Garden of England’.  Specifically we are in East Cliff, an area of Folkestone.  We have the sea to the south of us, the white cliffs to the east and glorious countryside (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty no less!) to the north.

Stuff grows here that doesn’t grow anywhere else (I defy you to bring me a more delicious whelk or a more peppery alexander seed!), people have farmed and fished and cooked here for centuries – the knowledge of what is good (both in terms of deliciousness and health) is embedded in the rocks, so why go to Tesco?

And if that doesn’t convince you, here are some real proper bona fide science-y reasons:

    • local food is fresher and fresh food tastes better because it is still clinging on to its nutrients, so it’s better for you too – Farms who sell locally often allow fruits and veg to ripen longer on branches etc rather than picking them early because there is no concern about them spoiling during transit
    • You’ll generally find less packaging on non-supermarket foods
    • Fewer food miles = lower environmental impact (fewer vehicle emissions etc)
    • Supporting local farming/food production preserves green space & countryside, which is, you know, nice for walking and stuff.  Also it has been proven that being surrounded by greater biodiversity leads to better mental health.
    • Supporting local smaller producers means you get better variety (more heritage varieties, more flavours) because they are under less pressure to churn our vast quantities of identical products for large scale distribution.  This means historic varieties of fruit and veg and rare breeds animals can be preserved.
    • Being engaged – You can meet the people who grow/rear/make your food – and the food becomes more enjoyable just by knowing the care that went into producing it. Not only that, but you can give feedback so that the producers can work with the community to supply the stuff people want.
    • This communication with suppliers gives us amazing knowledge of the processes that go into food production and supply which puts us, as consumers, into far stronger positions to make decisions about what we put into our bodies and the effect that this has on the environment.
    • It is an incredibly valuable act to decide to support your local community and economy. It doesn’t mean you can’t leave the county ever again or that you shouldn’t enjoy food and drink from elsewhere too, but when an economy builds strength from within it attracts investment from without – so every pound you spend locally is actually worth double its value to the community as a whole. 

 

  • This is less science, more just my experience.  Shopping locally saves money.  Buying seasonal food is the most cost-effective way to shop because it is the easiest way for the farmers to operate.  Buying from as close to the source as possible reduces the effort/packaging that the supplier has to make to get your food to you – save them time/money and saving will undoubtedly be passed on.  We’ve always found that there is misconception that farmers markets and small-scale shops are really expensive – some things are pricey (usually because they are really high quality or produced in tiny batches) but seasonal fruit and veg, fish and meat is generally much better value locally than in a supermarket.

WHERE TO BUY SUPER-LOCAL AND DELICIOUS FOOD IN/NEAR FOLKESTONE:

Well first of all, did we mention you can try lots of local food at one of our pop-ups! 😉 More info here.

Folkestone Food Assembly (we especially love Walmestone Growers’ spray-free veg but it’s all good)

Roots ‘N’ Fruits (Fruit, veg, spices)

Folkestone Trawlers (always ask what is local and whether it has been frozen)

Folkestone Wholefoods

Dockers Brewery and Bakehouse (the exceptional bread is sold at Folkestone Wholefoods)

Griggs of Hythe (Fishmongers)

Nethergong Nurseries – deliver amazing veg boxes once a week, such good value and an amazing range.

SECRET BRUNCH CLUB

Join us for a THREE COURSE BRUNCH in a secret new location on 3rd February 2018 at 11am

BOOK HERE

East Cliff Kitchen presents their alter-ego, East Cliff Dining Club, through which we make secret (and not-so-secret) eating events which celebrate seasonal and local ingredients from Folkestone, Kent.

Our 3 course brunch menu includes pescatarian and plant-based options, as well as a special children’s menu, all designed around the beautiful food available right now in East Kent.  We’ve also teamed up with the incredible Debonair Tea Company from Hythe to bring you tea pairings for each course and a complimentary tea-infused cocktail!

We can’t wait to welcome you to this new venue for the first time, just a few minutes walk from the harbour, you’ll be right in the heart of our family, sharing food at a table with a small number of other food lovers.  This is no restaurant experience – it is a true exaltation, eating wonderful food together right here where the food was made. We will email you the address on the day before the event.

SEATS ARE LIMITED SO PLEASE BOOK EARLY

Brunch tickets:

£20 per adult

£6 per child

we ask for 50% deposit on adult tickets when you book and the rest on the day.

Please let us know if you have any allergies or other dietary requirements – we’ll do our best to make sure you get the same yummy food as everyone else!

East Cliff Kitchen is a foodie celebration of the best of local Kentish ingredients. We are convinced that – as well as being a more responsible way to eat – sustainable, high-welfare, low-mileage food just tastes better! Here on Folkestone’s East Cliff, we are completely spoiled.  On the one side we have the English Channel (on a clear day we can see France) and on the other, the Garden of England so we have our pick of incredible seafood and delicious fruit and vegetables all year round. As East Cliff Dining Club, we host supper clubs, foodie parties and create bespoke events for local organisations including Folkestone Fringe and the Folkestone Triennial.

Salsify and Cauliflower

Salsify and Cauliflower roasted with miso and wakame.

We got these beautiful seasonal goodies from Folkestone Food Assembly  where all the food is sourced locally and (where possible) is also organic. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

Cauliflower

Salsify

Miso paste

Honey or Agave Syrup

Soy Sauce

Toasted Sesame Oil

Wakame – or any dried seaweed flakes

 

There are no quantities here, because it’s such a simple dish, you can just use as much as you need or like.

  1. Slice the cauliflower into 1cm slices (I like to keep the slices as whole as possible)
  2. Peel the salsify and drop immediately into cold water
  3. Blanch the salsify by dropping it into boiling water for 3-4 mins
  4. Lay out all the veg on baking trays
  5. Mix equal parts of the Miso, Honey/Agave, Soy and Sesame Oil together
  6. Brush this marinade over the veg and stick in all in the oven at 190ºc for 10-15 mins.  The cauliflower should still have a slight bite after cooking.
  7. To serve, just sprinkle over the wakame and you’re done!
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Beetroot and other seasonal goodies

Winter salad of roast and pickled beetroot, radish, fried Sussex halloumi, mint, carrot oil and foraged gorse flowers. I’m working on a couple of blog posts at the moment. One is about foraging – it’s been on my mind a lot recently – it’s a hugely important part of how we can reconnect with both our environment and our social/food history. The other is about why it’s so important and worthwhile to shop and eat locally – which is at the heart of how we both work and live. In the meantime, here is a lovely lunch I put together that embraces both of these things!I pickled a batch of Brockman farm organic chioggia beetroot back in September and whilst it has lost its beautiful stripes, it has a gorgeous flavour from the bay and star anise in the pickling liquor. The fresh beetroot in our Nethergong veg box comes from Walmestone Growers and is spray-free. We met the appropriately named Steve Parsley a few years ago when he was a manager (now retired after 30 years)and have visited their farm – now run by Paul Vesey-Wells (whose background is in organic farming) near Ash many times. Owned by the Aspinall family, they supply the Aspinall wild animal parks (specifically they grow fennel for gorillas!). Their ethics and processes are spot-on and their dedication to this means the veg and herbs they produce have exceptional flavour. We pan-roasted the beetroot in butter and made a carrot oil by blending fresh carrots (also walmestone) with olive oil and sieving. Walmestone are all over this dish, as they also provided the fresh mint and peppery radishes. High Weald Dairy are just over the county border in Sussex and have been making Halloumi for as long as Walmestone having been feeding the gorillas. When we get round to buying a car, I think we’re going to have to go and visit because they also make Brighton Blue and Ashdown Foresters. Finally – although perhaps I should have opened with this – the gorse flowers. Folkestone is a constant inspiration. After taking the boys (one dog, one toddler) for a walk on the rocks at low tide where we marvelled at the seaweed, we climbed back up the steps to East Cliff and discovered a blooming hedge of gorse. So stunning and with an amazing fresh flavour. I gathered as much as I could before the boys got bored – just enough to finish this dish! . Photography: @bartlehalpinphotography#kentfood#seasonalfood#eveninwinter#folkestone#chefsofinstagram#foragedfood#foraging#beetroot#mint#radishes#halloumi@highwealddairy@walmestone_growers@nethergongnurseries