- Food & Drink
It’s been a while since I’ve been on this blog. The lawn is all overgrown, there are weeds forcing their way up through the cracks in the crazy paving and I can’t begin to describe the state of my herbaceous borders. This is all because I have been busy at Stepney City Farm planning things for Urban Food Fortnight.
You don’t know what Urban Food Fortnight is? Then you clearly haven’t been paying enough attention to my twitter feed. Urban Food Fortnight (or UFF as I shall henceforth call it) is a London-wide celebration of all the brilliant food that is made and grown in our fair(ish) city. As I work on a farm that is just two miles from the Bank of England, UFF has a lot of resonance for me.
Stepney City Farm is a working farm, which means everything we grow and rear is for food. When the crops and the cute, skippy animals leave the fields, they are destined to end up on a fork (with a few notable exceptions. The donkeys are guinea pigs are safe. Repeat safe). So I planned two events that show off all the incredible food our farmer Tom and our generous-spirited, green-fingered volunteers grow.
The geese when I woke them up this morning (well, they were already awake. Not sure geese actually sleep)
Tonight there is an Edible Garden dinner, which is sold out – hurrah! And on Sunday 29th September there is a Michaelmas Feast, which we’re hosting with The Ginger Pig in an über trendy ex-factory in Hackney. The 29th is both the last day of UFF and also Michaelmas, one of the quarter days in the traditional rural calendar, when rents were paid and geese fattened on stubble were slaughtered for the celebrations.
This morning I waved off our 11 Legarth geese. They are going to be the basis of our feast. There will be potted goose and pickled rhubarb, braised heart and neck with white beans, roast goose and stuffing with veg from the farm and, er, late summer pudding (which doesn’t feature goose).
Because we’re posh we’ve also got a cheese course with cheeses that are made in Haringey by Wildes Cheese. There will also be beers from London Field’s Brewery, bread from E5 Bakehouse, soft drinks by Dalston Cola, and wines from Borough Wines.
Events like this are one of the reasons I love working at Stepney City Farm. Not the events themselves. They’re a nightmare and often see me waking up screaming at 2 in the morning because I’ve forgotten to order flour or borrow enough chairs. But what they do is remind me how much great food and drink is being produced in London, and not only in the ritzy restaurants.
Onions and celery leaf, which made me cry. The onions. Not the celery leaf. The celery leaf and I got on fine.
I just put the lamb in to roast for tonight’s dinner. It’s roasting on a bed of onions and celery leaf. 20 minutes before the roast went in the oven the celery leaf was still growing in the soil. The pumpkin for the soup was picked 30 minutes ago, and a basket of spinach and kale has arrived for the side dishes.
Being so connected to the food I cook with is a rare and special thing and, covered in flour and panicking slightly about chairs as I am (pretty sure we’ve got enough chairs), I do feel privileged to have these opportunties.
While tonight’s dinner is sold out, there are a few tickets left for the Michaelmas Feast. They are £37.50 for five courses and any profits go to the running costs of the farm, which is a charity and does good things for Tower Hamlets. Click and book for the most local, most traceable and (I’m fairly confident about this) the most delicious Sunday lunch in London this September.