East Cliff Kitchen will be the official festival pop-up for the whole of Normal? Festival of the Brain at Folkestone Quarterhouse. We will be serving a menu of Brain Food and Multisensory Cocktails throughout the festival in The Clearing (you don’t need to pay for a festival pass to come and eat with us!). You can find us there at the following times:
Thursday 10th May:
6.45pm (45 mins) FREE. “Join co-curators Folkestone Fringe, Living Words and the Creative Foundation to celebrate the launch of Normal? Festival with ‘brain food’ and multi sensory cocktails provided by festival pop-up East Cliff Kitchen.”
Friday 11th May:
5pm-10pm. East Cliff Kitchen will be serving extraordinary eating experiences, in the form of seasonal, and locally produced, ‘brain food’. We’ve put together a whole menu based on ways of improving your brain health. The first of those is ‘be happy’ – so all our dishes are designed to be upliftingly delicious!
Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th May:
10am-midday. As our brunches have demonstrated, we take morning meals very seriously! Join us for the most important meal of the day
1pm – 10pm. East Cliff Kitchen will be serving extraordinary eating experiences, in the form of seasonal, and locally produced, ‘brain food’. We’ve put together a whole menu based on ways of improving your brain health. The first of those is ‘be happy’ – so all our dishes are designed to be upliftingly delicious!
Normal? Festival of the Brain brings science and art together over four days to delve into and question the brain. This year, we’re looking at rest and sleep, grief and loss, love and perception and exploring ways to pay attention, delight in difference and make ourselves more resilient.
Spring is here at last and our menu for the next pop-up at Space Bar & Gallery is a celebration of all the lovely new stuff! We’re also pickling and fermenting the winter root veggies and getting excited about leaves and buds. In the fermenting jars at the moment, we have chard root and swede (rutabaga) with sea lettuce and chilli and cauliflower with ginger, whilst pickling away in the corner is a selection of lovely beetroot and pink blush shallots with herbs.
In the meantime, we just got a delivery of Rowan shoots and Birch sap from Forager – one of our favourite suppliers. We forage ourselves where we can, but these guys have so much knowledge and skill. The ethics of foraging are complex, it’s about respecting the environment as much as the landowner because wild food isn’t cultivated so you have to be sure you are not damaging it and preventing it from regenerating. That’s why I turn to the professionals if I’m in any doubt. The Rowan shoots have an intensely almond-y flavour, so I and going to try to create an infused syrup to use in cocktails for the launch party of Normal Festival. The Birch sap is currently fermenting with a few raisins in the bottom as a catalyst. I’ll keep tasting it and when it reaches a good point, i’ll pop in some lemon juice and freeze it till I need it.
As spring is finally arriving, we’re saying goodbye to some winter lovelies, sothis menu celebrates the outgoing root veg in our salsify fritters and the last of the pears and the incoming seafood with our luxurious crab macaroni cheese, with wild garlic also making it’s first appearance in
our first course.
The rye bread will be from the awesome Dockers on Folkestone’s Harbour Arm, which opens on 24th March for the 2018 season and you’ll be seeing more of us there as the season unfolds – watch this space!
East Cliff Kitchen had a particular reason for celebrating Mothers Day. Cherry started the award-winning Paramour Pie Club (our previous incarnation) when she became a mother herself and she suddenly developed a hankering to feed the world! But before any of that, she was taught how to cook by her own mother – an epic chef in her own right (and one half of Truluck & Heaven). Jenny Truluck was responsible for the fish pie recipe on our menu and was the inspiration and consultant for everything else. She is awesome.
We had such a lovely day celebrating all the wonderful women in our lives with delicious food and drink, including a couple of Pie Club specials!
We did it! Our first brunch at our East Cliff HQ. It was an absolute joy. We had 26 guests: 6 plant-based menus, 14 pescatarian and 6 children (all under 5 so our 2 year old was so excited to have all these new friends to hang out with!).
It was a bit of an experiment in lots of ways – we borrowed benches from ]performance s p a c e[ who are always incredibly generous, did tons of crockery research, decided it was all too expensive and just when we were beginning to think we might have to serve the food directly onto the table, found that Asda do a perfectly respectable basics range. We would have loved to stick to our ethos of local sourcing on this one but for our first event, the budget was just not going to stretch!
The menu was a combination of new ideas and things we have tested in the past. I love using fresh nettles – I’ve previously made a delicious nettle gnocchi – and I knew it was a tad early but didn’t realise quite what a mission Peter would have to go on to find them! There is another low-growing weed that seems to take over the areas you’d expect to see nettles around here. I keep meaning to find out what it is, I thought it was ground elder at first but the leaves are different… anyway, I digress. The Folkestone Downs finally came up trumps and our nettle porridge was back on track.
We’ve also had a play with making vegan ‘eggs’ before using a vegan ‘gelatine’ based on carrageenan (a kind of seaweed). Previously we made little ‘fried eggs’ for a curry-based dish, so the egg white was a jelly made with coconut milk and the yolk was half a yellow cherry tomato. This time, I wanted to make boiled ‘eggs’ to go with baked wild mushroom polenta, so for the white I made a fennel puree, added gelatine and set it in little easter egg moulds! The runny yolk was a carrot and tomato chutney.
We got Whitstable oysters (for the Bloody Marys) and delicious Folkestone scallops (for the pescatarian version of the nettle porridge) from Folkestone Trawlers. On the way down to collect them at 7am, I picked gorse flowers from the Cliff to go with the porridge. The sense of ‘place’ in these dishes is really exciting for me. The kippers were from Griggs in Hythe where they do their own brunch menu that you can eat in or take out onto the beach. I went to collect my order with our little one in tow and they gave him a free smoked salmon bagel because he has one of those cute chubby faces you can’t say no to! I met Louisa from Debonair Tea there as well, since she is based in Hythe, to pick up the beautiful loose leaf tea that she had helped us pair with each course. I think there needs to be a whole blog post dedicated to cooking with tea and matching tea to food – perhaps I’ll ask Louisa to do a guest post..?
All our vegetables were from East Kent, mostly from Walmestone Growers, Nethergong Nurseries and their neighbours. I loved the squash puree made with roasted Acorn and Red Kuri squashes, garlic, Kent rapeseed oil and nothing else – super sweet, but our favourite was the beetroot syrup, just a simple sugar syrup made with beetroot juice, but the flavour was so earthy and intense – perfect against the greek yoghurt, fresh mint and yeasty pikelets. I pinched the idea from a very talented friend and barman Chris Lacey-Malvern at whose bar I recently tasted one of his many insanely good cocktails containing beetroot syrup.
Having it in our front room felt like such a good decision, it was cosy and intimate, everyone sat on tables together and there was a beautiful sense of community, loads of chat about everyone’s love of Folkestone. Best not to mention all the washing up that took us a couple of days to plough through…
So much more I could tell you – did you see the little video in instagram of the tea infusing in the vodka for the Bloody Marys?! – but the pictures will give you an idea.
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