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Chefs

Peter Sidwell of Simply Good Food TV  "Womersley products are fantastic, very pure they deliver a wonderful opportunity to bring balance to a dish.They deliver a clear fresh and incredible flavour, great cooking starts with great ingredients and that's why I buy Womersley."

Peter Sidwell of Simply Good Food TV

 

Peter lives and works in the beautiful Lake District, a popular location in the UK with over 12 million visitors each year.  He enjoys rewriting the rule book for local produce, reinventing British recipes....

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Tom Aikens uses Womersley Herb Vinegar and Vinegar Fruit dressings

“I have known Rupert for the best part of almost ten years now and have been using his vinegars all the time in my own various restaurants. They are of a superb quality and have an exceptional taste & flavour….

a great addition to the deli.”

Tom Aikens

Consultant Chef, Soho House

 

Tom Aikens is one of the UK’s most acclaimed and inspirational British chefs....

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“Bloody Good”

Raymond Blanc

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"Absolutely fantastic for dressings... stunning... great product."

Simon Crannage, Head Chef of Swinton Park in Masham, North Yorkshire

Amongst Simon Crannage's accolades, he scored 8/10 in The Times judged by Giles Coren, retained three AA rosettes throughout his tenure at Swinton Park and runs the Alfresco Walking Food Festival in the Swinton Estate parkland.

20.9.2011 UPDATE: Simon Crannage voted Yorkshire Chef of The Year and Swinton Park is Hotel of the Year at the Yorkshire Life Awards

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"You've got a British gem and should be celebrated..."

Jason Palin, Private chef providing bespoke dinner parties and catering events, Gourmet Gusto

Jason has been a chef for 27 years, cooking in several locations around the world. He does cookery demonstrations, cookery school, private catering and can give nutritional advice.

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Grandfa and Oliver  

Food shows come and food shows go. As an exhibitor, you don't always know what to expect: plenty of opportunity to catch up with fellow exhibitors, a mad panic to protect your stock from being ruined in a downpour of English weather or lots of enthusiastic people eager to talk about artisan food production.  And so it was in Cheltenham last weekend where I attended the Food Festival for the first time...

On the way there very early on the first morning of three, I had time to work out that it was fully 29 years since I had been at school at Cheltenham College. Maybe I should not have been so surprised to find myself having become a grandfather to a very beautiful boy called Oliver in the same week!


The festival was in the beautiful setting of Montpellier Gardens. We were in a large marquee surrounded by lots of other lovely producers like Cotswold Gold, Grumpies Pies (thanks for the lunch!) and Artisan Smokehouse who use maple for all their smoking, which makes particularly their smoked duck taste really sweet and tender. Being practically unique, we rarely find ourselves having to compete with many other fruit vinegar producers so we enjoy talking to people about how to use them and how to be creative in the kitchen with a good glug of our vinegars. When possible, though, we try to ensure our vinegars are included in the cookery theatre or we work with a local chef to showcase a recipe. I had recently met a charming fellow called Wayne Sullivan at an event at the impressive herb and micro leaf growers, Westlands, near Evesham and found out he is a head chef in Cheltenham, so I asked if he would like to do a demonstration on our stand on the Sunday. He loved the idea and, fresh from having moved house, he turned up with his whole family to show just how easy it is to make a delicious salmon ceviche. And, being a chef, this was also a great opportunity for visitors to ask questions about food preparation and mixing flavours and what is ceviche! (Ceviche is, put simply, raw fish marinated in citrus juice or vinegar and spices; the acid in the juice denatures the proteins in the meat in much the same way as cooking would. The flesh becomes opaque, the texture firmer and dryer, yet the flavours remain spanking fresh. Naturally, our vinegars do the job beautifully).
So, on a day off from his role as Head Chef at the local Storyteller Restaurant, Wayne made a delicious salmon ceviche with our Strawberry & Mint vinegar and finished with our Lime, Black Pepper & Lavender for a punchy sourness.

Salmon Ceviche with
Strawberry & Mint and
Lime, Black Pepper & Lavender
Vinegars
by Wayne Sullivan



 

Ingredients:
200g fresh salmon, diced as fine as you can make it
1 red chilli, finely sliced up to the seeds (or a little further up for more spice)
1 whole spring onion, finely sliced
10g coriander, finely chopped.
1 lime, zested & quartered
Sea salt
10ml Womersley Strawberry & Mint vinegar
Toasted ciabatta, crackers, biscuits (anything crispy)
Womersley Lime, Black pepper & Lavender Vinegar (for drizzle before serving)

Method:
Prepare all ingredient in a bowl as fine as you can as this will ensure the vinegar can infuse, cure and tenderise.
Try not to prepare too far in advance but the longer you leave it then the more cured the fish will be.
Simply spoon small quantities on to pieces of toasted ciabatta, drizzle over the Lime, Black Pepper & Lavender vinegar and serve.




This recipe was inspired by Wayne's time as head chef at Storyteller, an eclectic fusion restaurant in Cheltenham that blends traditional Californian cooking with modern and European techniques.

After training at a local college, Wayne worked his way around Gloucestershire, fronting up some premier kitchens as well as working for a while in Australia. He then went on to stage at Petrus under Marcus Wareing, and over in the United States at Wheatleigh Hotel, in Lenox, Massachusetts.

 

A big fan of Sat Bains, Richard Davies and Daniel Clifford, his ultimate goal is to have his own little place where he can cook food that people will come from all over to eat, preferably by the sea.
You can follow Wayne at twitter.com/ChefWayner 
 
 
Wayne Sullivan

 



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Why eat Game? It is Wild, Natural and Healthy. Game live in the wild and are free to roam: the ultimate in free range! Game is not domesticated, they enjoy a life in the wild. Venison, for instance, is lower in fat than chicken and game species have no artificial feeds, chemicals or additives, they are just as nature intended.

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to meet José Souto who has worked as chef at the House of Commons, Mosimann's, the Ritz and the Savoy Grill. When he was at the House of Commons, he also wrote a manual on game cookery and followed this up by taking up the role of chef lecturer in culinary arts at Westminster College. Since taking the post, José has built a good reputation as one of the country's leading game chefs, also educating others on the harvest and preparation of game. I met José at Covent Garden Market for a blackberry convention and he demonstrated how superbly our Blackberry Vinegar tenderised and flavoured a loin of venison. In a recent recipe leaflet for the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) José included this lovely recipe for Roast Saddle of Hare with our Blackberry Vinegar:

 
Serves 2
 
 
 
 
 

José likes to share his knowledge on game with chefs as well as home cooks, so if you are interested in learning a bit more about the harvest, preparation and cookery of game, there is a wonderful opportunity to attend a one day game seminar at Westminster Kingsway College coming up very soon:

This is a one of its kind event and is as popular as ever with many areas of the hospitality industry regarding it as a must in the CPD of their staff now that wild food and game has become such a large part of our menus. For students it is a must as the seminar covers all Game theory students need for VRQ and NVQ qualifications.
The Game seminar gives attendees the ability to be educated and have a good understanding about the wild game that is produced by our countryside and it also gives them the ability to understand its background and provenance, enabling them to give this information on menus and add value to the product as well as be aware of costs and potential profits that can be made from preparing your own wild game.
Whether you are a Chef, foodie or Countryman or Lady the Game Seminar will be of interest to all.
There are 2 dates in January this year: Monday the 21st and Monday 28th January. There is a little more information on the Westminster Kingsway College site, too. Let me know if you are interested and would like more information on how to book ASAP as places are limited and I will pass on your details to José.
Are you game enough?




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September rounds off this year with two really inspirational locations for food festivals. Following last year's successful Thame Food Festival, this year's is even bigger as the whole town centre will be closed off, allowing more space for exhibitors and visitors alike. And, for the first time ever, we will also be at Dyrham Park, just off Junction 18 of the M4 near Chippenham on Sunday: a beautiful National Trust home and garden.

 THAME FOOD FESTIVAL 9-5 Saturday 29th September

 

Lotte Duncan, Patron

Thame Food Festival is a landmark event in the food calendar. It attracts visitors to the town from far and wide. This wonderful showcase for local artisan food and drink producers and retailers in the region is a celebration of everything that is right with food and is a great chance to enjoy a bustling, fun filled, FREE, family day out in the centre of this historic Oxfordshire market town.
Visitors can choose to watch local and celebrity chef demonstrations or hear expert opinion and talks on selected food topics. There are children's workshops, hands-on food making stalls and a huge variety of wonderful exhibitor food stalls to sample and buy from. Events also include a fantastic raffle, competitions, street music and street entertainment.
The Patron of Thame Food Festival is TV chef and writer, Lotte Duncan, and the wonderful Ambassador is 'The Very Hungry Local Frenchman', Raymond Blanc. This rich vein of expert knowledge and food passion is enhanced by a wealth of food specialists and producers, and a great team of organisers. 
We were lucky enough to meet Raymond Blanc recently, at the 5th Anniversary of Brasserie Blanc, in Leeds, who we are proud to supply. As you can see, Wendy was putting her best foot forward that day...

Rupert Parsons, Raymond Blanc, Wendy Preston
 
DYRHAM PARK FOOD FESTIVAL 10-4 Sunday 30th September


With barely a pause for breath, we then zoom down the M4 overnight to set up our gazebo at the enchanting National Trust location of Dyrham Park for the latest Love Food festival.
The Love Food market will be packed full of spicy chorizo, freshly ground coffees, salt marsh lamb, dark chocolate brownies, local ales, seasonal fruit and vegetables, sloe wine, award winning sausages, chutneys, hand crafted goods and much more. The picnic area will also delight, with an excellent selection of street food providing some great lunch. Wash this down with award-winning cider and the Festival's much loved soundtrack and this will make for a very great Sunday.

Free children's activities for all ages will also be provided as Love Food Festival will be supporting the National Trust's "50 Things to do before you are 11¾" campaign, encouraging children to become less sofa-bound and get back out into the countryside.

 

For more details on both these events, do click on the links above which include maps and schedules.
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The much anticipated Abergavenny Food Festival is once again almost upon us. Last year, this proved to be our busiest town food festival, full of knowledgeable and enthusiastic visitors. The town is so picturesque that I used a few spare minutes last year to take some photos as well, like this one:

Abergavenny Market Hall


We have been fortunate enough recently to supply our fruit vinegars to a particularly prestigious event of an elite sporting nature in a city not too far from here and this will be our first chance to show off our goods since the event ended. As you can tell, we are not allowed to say what this is, but come and taste for yourself why we were chosen...

This year, we are in the Market Hall and have far more space to exhibit. You can find us on Stall number 35, see the map below. Unlike last year, this means we'll be under cover (in the unlikely event of rain) and in the same area as the exciting Kitchen Stage where we hope to see the chefs doing a few demonstrations with our vinegars...well, you never know! You can see the timetable of the chefs demonstrating on the Abergavenny FoodFest site.



Do come along, then, to Abergavenny this Saturday and Sunday, 15th and 16th September for an exciting visit to a beautiful town at its' best. We will, for the first time, have our four chutneys available for you and our new Taste Award winners have lovely new labels, too...








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Where better to celebrate Yorkshire Day than in Yorkshire! And, of course, we have a double reason to celebrate after having just heard that Yorkshire favourite, our Raspberry Vinegar, won TOP50 in this year's Taste Awards.
And that is exactly what we'll be doing next Wednesday, August 1st. We are exhibiting at Wentbridge House Hotel during the day and then we will also be Guest Producer at Ye Old Sun Inn at Colton near Tadcaster in the evening.


There will be a lot going on at Wentbridge House during the day, including chef demonstrations from some of Yorkshire's finest including Tim Bilton, Tom Rennolds, Robert Ramsden, Josh Angell and John Rogers as well as a whole host of entertainment for all the family including Flat Cap Flinging! The event is all in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, so do come and support them and us.

In the evening, top chef Ashley McCarthy is hosting a special evening to celebrate Yorkshire Day at the popular Ye Old Sun Inn at Colton. We will be doing a short talk about Fruit Vinegars....

 

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Well, if it does ever stop raining and the Summer arrives this year, you can try this lovely salad recipe by Simon Blackwell.
As promised in my last blog post, here is the amazing dish Simon (aka The Buff Baker) did for us at the recent BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham. Of course, you don't have to wait for the sun to come out: the flavours in this salad are so vibrant and Summery that it will bring a smile to your face

Simon doing the prep...



Fig, Strawberry and Mint Salad
with Strawberry & Mint Dressing
 
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
Bag of Baby spinach
2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
2 Tbsp Strawberry and Mint dressing
2 Tbsp freshly chopped mint
4 sliced soft dried figs (or fresh, if available)
6 large fresh strawberries, sliced and with stem removed
Walnuts
 
Method:
Rinse spinach leaves under cold water and shake off the excess, before placing into a large bowl.
Dress the leaves with Agave nectar and Strawberry & Mint dressing and toss thoroughly.
Add fresh mint, figs, strawberries and walnuts, give a few final tosses to mix and coat well.
Turn out onto a board finish with a splash or two of the Strawberry and Mint dressing.
 
This was consumed by the visitors in seconds!

Do come to see us at the BBC Good Food Show in Winter from 28th November to 2nd December, when Simon will be doing another great demonstration for us. You can book your tickets here.
 
 
 
 
 
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We were fortunate enough to have the aptly named Buff Baker, aka Simon Blackwell, doing a couple of recipes with our Strawberry & Mint at the BBC Good Food Show last week. First up was a tantalising salad which I will also post here soon, but since Wimbledon is nearly upon us, I thought you would love to have a go at this truly scrummy and very fruity Wimbledon Trifle.


Simon Blackwell, the Buff Baker



Womersley Wimbledon Trifle
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
12 Ladies Fingers sponge biscuits
500ml double cream
6 mini meringues
8 strawberries cut into chunks
75ml Strawberry & Mint dressing
75ml cold water
150g caster sugar
4 strawberries cut into fans for decoration
 
Whip the cream until thick but not stiff, so that it can be just about poured.
Add cut up strawberry chunks to cream.
Crush meringues and drop into cream.
Mix cream, thoroughly combining ingredients.
Heat water, sugar and Strawberry & Mint dressing over a low heat until sugar is totally dissolved.
Pour sugar syrup over the sponge fingers, allowing it to soak in completely.
Allow sponge fingers to cool.
Place two fingers in the bottom of each bowl and then cover with a generous layer of the cream mixture.
Repeat this until a generous pile of cream sits above the rim of each glass.
Place your fanned strawberries on top of the dessert and then refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Womersley Wimbledon Trifle
 

Simon was one of the brave bunch on BBC's "Great British Bake Off" in 2011 and he also did a very tasty vegan Drizzle Cake for us at BBC Good Food Show last November. 
 
He is currently spending much of his spare time supporting the very worthwhile charity, CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably),which is a charity set up to reduce the high suicide rate amongst men under 35 years old: the single biggest killer of young men in the UK. You can follow Simon's work with CALM on twitter. And we hope Simon will be able to join us again at BBC Good Food Show Winter for another cracking recipe...
 
 
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Lotte Duncan, Thame Food Festival

Last year, I met the very cheery TV chef and food writer, Lotte Duncan, for the first time at IFE in London. At the time, Lotte was looking for stock for her new shop, "Lotte's Kitchen," so she enjoyed a thorough tasting of all our flavours on display. Sure enough, the first order came through shortly afterwards and now, Lotte wows her visitors with amazing dressings using our Cherry, Raspberry or Blackberry vinegars, in particular.

I was interested to see how Lotte uses our vinegars so was delighted when I spotted that she was doing an "Easy Summer Entertaining" cookery demonstration at Lotte's Kitchen. I immediately booked my place which was just as well, because it was sold out. Turning up on a balmy evening, the room was filled with 22 expectant women, all keen to learn a few Lotte tricks. Oh, and there were two other chaps there!
If you have never been to Lotte's Kitchen, let me tell you it is a veritable Pink Palace of Tasty treats. Talking to some of her regulars, I was delighted to hear tales of how much love and care goes into Lotte's dishes and how, for instance, salads are integral to her offerings rather than just a side issue.
On the evening, Lotte put everyone beautifully at ease with her entertaining and relaxed style as she constructed some fabulous recipes:
 

  • Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinegar (recipe below)
  • Leek and Cheese Soda Bread
  • Whole Salmon baked with Rosemary, Orange, Bay and Cloves
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes with Leeks and Cream (lots!)
  • Pink Meringues with Clotted Cream and Strawberries


It really was a fun evening as we were all looked after so well, everyone got a plate of each of the dishes and some even had a go at piping those pink meringues onto the tray...
In fact, the evening was such a success that Lotte has already decided to plan another one on July 3rd. I can strongly recommend it, but book NOW!

 

  Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinegar
by Lotte Duncan
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
8 rashers free-range dry cured, unsmoked streaky bacon
3 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
4 tbsp Raspberry Vinegar (or Cherry/Blackberry/Strawberry & Mint)
1 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
8 Medium, cooked baby beetroot (not in vinegar)
2 tbsp Chopped, fresh Mint leaves 
1 Cos lettuce, leaves roughly torn
110g Young Goat's Cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
Method:
Grill the bacon rashers until crispy, turning occasionally. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
Make the dressing by combining the oil, vinegar, mustard and a little seasoning together in a medium mixing bowl.
Cut each beetroot into four (or smaller, if preferred) and add to the dressing, stirring to coat.
Combine the mint and lettuce leaves and divide them between four plates. Place the dressed beetroot pieces on top of the leaves. Break up the goat's cheese into little pieces and dot on top of the beetroot. Finish with two rashers of grilled bacon on top.
*Optional: decorate with rose petals, as in the photo.
 
Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinegar


And here is a picture of those meringues- I challenge anyone to eat these beauties tidily!

Pink Meringues with Clotted Cream and Strawberries


Lotte Duncan is also patron of the increasingly popular Thame Food Festival which takes place this year on 29th September (yes, we'll be there!) Last year was our first at Thame and it was a very busy day in glorious sunshine. You can read a little more about the day here.

 

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Malton Food Lovers Festival 
Saturday-Sunday19th-20th May 

For the first time ever, we are really thrilled to be exhibiting at the prestigious Malton festival, just north of York. Amongst the many chefs being presented by Elaine Lemm in the cookery theatres this year are Antonio Carluccio, Tom Parker Bowles, Matthew Fort, James Mackenzie, chef-owner of the Michelin-starred Pipe and Glass Inn, Rob Green, award-winning National Seafood Chef of the Year at Green’s of Whitby; Robert Ramsden of Deli Fresh, Stephanie Moon, chef consultant at Rudding Park and recently seen on BBC's Great British Menu.
Also, a bonus for us as we have this year's Masterchef finalist, Tom Rennolds, doing a demonstration on our stand on Sunday- one not to miss!

You can get tickets online or on the day.



Wild Thyme Restaurant Food Festival, Chipping Norton
Sunday 27th May 11am-5pm

After enjoying a very busy day in Chipping Norton Town Hall last year, I am delighted that we have been invited back to my home town food festival at the end of the month. With Prue Leith as patron and, I am sure, a good turnout of "The Chipping Norton Set," this promises to be a vibrant day.
We are also fortunate enough to have Masterchef 2011's James Perry doing a cookery demonstration with our Cherry Vinegar as a macerator!

Tickets for this are only £3.00 on the door and FREE for under 14s.


BBC Good Food Show Summer, N.E.C. Birmingham
Wednesday-Sunday 13th-17th June 9am-6pm

It has been a few years since we last did the Summer show but since our fruity vinegars and dressings are the perfect match for your Summer salads and marinades for the BBQ, it seemed time we should return.
Being Diamond Jubilee year, we will surely be celebrating all that is Great about Britain at the show, too, including the food we produce in this country, which just keeps getting better and better. Check back here for updates soon on our plans for the show and of course we will have a good supply of our new and vibrant chutneys for you.
Tickets are available online.

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Ten years of boarding school at Summer Fields, Oxford and Cheltenham College I suffered in my youth...it wasn't all bad, though: every Friday lunch we were fed fish and some of it didn't even have batter! However, thanks to the excellent talents of Rob Green of Green's of Whitby, I now know that batter can taste exceptional with our Lime, Black Pepper and Lavender in the mix: surely the most imaginative twist on fish and chips with vinegar.

ROB GREEN'S POLLOCKS



  "The Womersley lime, blackpepper & lavender works great on fish and chips. The lavender is not over powering but adds a great fresh, fragrant dimension to the dish that malt vinegar can not deliver.

Ingredients
1x Bottle Womersley Lime, blackpepper and lavender vinegar,
2x Fillets of Pollock, skinned and boned, dredged in seasoned flour
1 can Lager, 250g self raising flour, 1 tbsp of Womersley Lime, black pepper & lavender vinegar, whisked together to form a smooth batter. (It needs to be the same thickness as double cream, to thick and the end result will be stodgy)
Lemon, Tartare sauce, Womersley vinegar and mushy peas to serve!

For the Fish
Heat the oil to 190C.
Holding the tail of the fish, dip into the batter and make sure all the fish is covered.
Carefully lay the fish into the oil.
Cook until golden brown, turning now and then as soon as the batter has started to crisp.
Depending on the thickness the fish should take between 4-6mins
Drain on kitchen paper.

Serve your fish with chips and with the lemon, tartare sauce, mushy peas and lashings of the Lime, blackpepper & Lavender.

Rob Green, Green's of Whitby."

 

STEPHANIE MOON'S MACKEREL
 

This week, we have been enjoying the North East region of Great British Menu on BBC2 which has showcased two new talents, Colin McGurran and Charlie Lakin, as well as returning chef, Stephanie Moon. For 2012, the chefs' task is to create a menu that captures the Olympic spirit - food that is breath-taking and awe-inspiring. Every great Olympian pushes their discipline on to new levels of excellence and that's the challenge for the 2012 Great British Menu chefs. We particularly loved Steph's podium pudding, what a terrific idea. Our bottles of Lemon, Basil, Bay and Juniper have been very much in evidence in the GBM kitchen and were used by Steph in her dishes. Of course, Steph also got to cook a fish dish this week and this reminded me that she recently did a beautiful Whitby Fish Mackerel dish also using our Lemon, Basil, Bay & Juniper.

 

Whitby Seafish Mackerel, Forager’s Salad, Pickled Baby Vegetables


The recipe for Steph's dish is available on her Wild Cooks blog page so give it a go and let us know how well it works for you.
This weekend, Steph is presenting the Cookery Theatre at Harrogate Flower Show and I even get to share the stage with her on Saturday afternoon: yikes! Unfortunately, Steph missed out on the final by one point- that Nigel Haworth is a very exacting judge!

Now, if only we'd had fish like this at boarding school all those years ago...

 

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Many thanks to Sabrina Ghayour for drawing my attention to this nicely written article by Jamie Oliver in the Daily Mail online (published in Femail on 9th March).
And, if you don't want to make your own Raspberry Vinegar, you know where to buy the best!


And here are a few lovely Raspberry Vinegar ideas and a recipe for you:

  • Blend with a fine Rapeseed Oil for a smooth and fruity salad dressing
  • Splash into a glass of fizz or mineral water
  • Drizzle over your Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings
  • Swirl into a hot toddy

 

 
 
SUGGESTED RECIPE
CHICKEN BREASTS WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE
(Serves 4)
  1. Pan-fry 4 boneless chicken breasts in sunflower oil; remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Pour off excess fat from pan and add 150ml raspberry vinegar and bring to boil; reduce quickly until sauce is half original volume.
  3. Add 250ml of whipping cream and bring to the boil; simmer until slightly thickened.
  4. Season with salt and pepper; add some freshly chopped herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, chervil, basil, coriander, tarragon.
  5. Pour sauce over chicken; sprinkle with extra fresh herb. Serve immediately.
 
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Our little town of Chipping Norton is blessed with an abundance of bird life. We have the most amazing variety of finches, tits, songbirds and blackbirds. Mind you, this should not be such a great surprise, since the good people of Chipping Norton feed them well and there are plenty of trees and hedgerows for cover and nesting.
The Winter months have been unusually dry and mild this year, particularly compared to last year, so the birds have been able to come and have a bath in our pond all through the Winter. We are particularly fortunate to have a lot of blackbirds in our area since their song is so beautiful to wake up to. Our neighbours have a tall, spindly silver birch tree which acts as a good lookout perch for one particular blackbird to sing his little heart out and check that the way is clear down to the pond.
Our friendly blackbird's exalted position has obviously been noticed, though.... This morning, as I looked out, he was chased off his branch by the biggest, fattest pigeon you ever saw. However, he was in for a surprise since his considerable weight caused the treetop to bend swiftly and alarmingly....he held on....the branch swayed some more....he would not be beaten....until he was virtually upside down, when he made an unceremonious dismount and, in a flurry of down he gave up (presumably hoping nobody had noticed).

And all of this reminded me that it is about time I posted a pigeon recipe!

Last year, at the CLA Gamefair, I was fortunate enough to meet Chef Ralph Skripek of The Butler's Pantry, Derby. Ralph specialises in excellent Game recipes and has recently published a book on Game recipes called "Wild Chef" in which we are featured. Ralph is particularly good at challenging conventions so was delighted to taste our wares and see how they can "add a whole new angle to a dish." He was good enough to use a couple of our bottles in his demonstrations at Blenheim Palace last Summer and has now come up with a tasty Pigeon recipe for us using our Lemon, Basil, Bay & Juniper. So, the next time you find a tasty wood pigeon who has fallen off his last twig and could do with a good marinade, here is the recipe for you:


Marinated wood pigeon pan fried with smoked bacon on a croute

 

 
Marinated wood pigeon pan fried with smoked bacon on a croute, finished with a tossed spring saladette, fresh asparagus and finished with a zesty dressing
 
(serves two)
4 x pigeon breasts
Sprig of fresh rosemary
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
2 slices of thick cut seeded wholemeal bread
Assorted salad leaves (rocket, ruby reds & lambs ears)
8 x fresh asparagus
2 small cooked beetroots (cut into strips)
Little olive oil
Salt & pepper mill
WOMERSLEY Lemon, Basil, Bay & Juniper
 
For a fuller flavour, marinate the pigeon breasts with a drizzling of the Womersley dressing, the day before (preferably) and proceed with recipe as per below
 
1. For a quicker dish, season the pigeon breast with salt & pepper & place on one side
2. Prepare asparagus by trimming the end and peeling the outer bark layer from half way up the asparagus
3. Place in a pan of boiling water, cook until tender, remove and refresh under running cold water
4. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan with the Womersley dressing & a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
5. Remove the fillet from under the pigeon breast, add to the pan (once hot), top side of breast down
6. Pan fry for 3 minutes on each side and remove ‘to rest’
7. Add a little more olive oil & dressing to the same pan
8. Cut two croutes from the seeded bread using a medium sized pastry cutter
9. Chop the smoked bacon into small diced pieces, add to the frying pan with the croutes
10. Cook until croutes are nicely browned on each side and the bacon is crispy
11. Remove bread & bacon from the pan and place the bacon on top of the croute
12. In the middle of a plate, place the croute with the bacon & layer the asparagus on top
13. Add a handful of leaves to a bowl with some strips of beetroot, drizzle over some Womersley dressing & a little olive oil with a few twists of the pepper mill
14. Mix the leaves to coat & place on top of the asparagus
15. Slice the pigeon breast around the leaves
 
 
 
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After some months of Tweeting to each other, I was delighted to receive this guest piece from Chef Simon Jury recently and hope you will enjoy reading it, too:



 

"Duck and cherry, two of my favourite flavours. I love that gamey meat flavour of the cherry and fresh fruity freshness of the duck...... no, hold on, I think I may have got something mixed up there. I'm also a fan of flavoured vinegars but have found that many cherry vinegars are often lacking or are a bit sharp and, much of the time, too vinegary. Yes I know that sounds a bit odd saying they are a bit vinegary, there are just a lot of flavoured vinegars that really don't offer more than, well, vinegar.

"A few weeks ago, I happened to be talking on the subject of vinegars and dressings and Rupert from Womersley Foods joined in asking if I have tried their vinegars. To my shame I had to admit I hadn't. Shame because I've spoken to Rupert on Twitter for a while now and hadn't really looked at the products that Womersley do. So when Rupert offered a bottle to try, I jumped at the chance. Well I jumped after deliberating over which flavour to choose. I was allowed any bottle I wanted so I had to choose wisely. I saw the cherry flavour straight away and looking back, I'm not sure why it took me so long to decide.

"The package arrived and like an excited child on Christmas morning I tore it open and didn't wait to taste it, I tipped a bit out, dipped my finger in and couldn't taste a thing. This is no sleight to the vinegar, I had a stinking cold and hadn't been able to taste anything for days. A course of antibiotics later and the taste buds were back. I had another tasting session with a ciabatta loaf and dipping bowls with unrefined olive oil and the vinegar. The vinegar is great: fresh, full of cherry flavour and not the usual harshness of vinegar. You could get away with the vinegar on its own as a dressing as it is that smooth. Also it is the first cherry vinegar I've tasted for a while that actually tastes of cherry.

"Finally I got to match the vinegar to duck which I had been waiting for during my cold filled weeks. (Please note I did not have man flu, I really was ill!) I kept the duck salad very simple as the star here was to be the vinegar. I pan-fried two duck breasts, skin side down until the fat was rendered and the skin was crispy. I then turned the duck breasts over and took off the heat to continue cooking through while I made the salad.

"I made a quick red onion salad by peeling, halving & slicing one large red onion, added some chopped cucumber , quartered cherry tomatoes and a few sliced spring onions. I made a dressing using half and half of the vinegar and unrefined olive oil and a pinch of salt. That's all you need for the dressing as there is so much flavour and sweetness in the cherry vinegar. I put half of the dressing in with the red onion salad and mixed this to coat.

"To serve, I made a bed of peppery salad, rocket, watercress & baby spinach and piled the onions salad on top. The duck, now nicely rested, was sliced and placed on top. The remaining dressing was then drizzled over to flavour the duck breast and drip through the salad. Cherry and duck is always a winner and maybe a little bit predictable, but when it tastes this good, who cares?


"Many thanks for the vinegar, it really is great and found out a friend of mine is a big fan too..."

 
You can follow Simon on Twitter @Simonlovesfood 
Simon also has a lovely blog title: saidsimontothepieman.com



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One of the best parts of making a key food ingredient is the opportunity to meet chefs and compare notes on their menus to see how our delights can help make their dishes even more special whilst retaining their unique personality. Fortunately, our fruit vinegars have such "extraordinary depths of flavour" (thank you to Bill King for that quote) that a little goes a long way and they allow for real creativity in the kitchen. Over the past couple of years that I have been sailing the good ship Womersley, I have been lucky enough to welcome aboard many chefs who have shared their enthusiasm with us all. Many have provided recipes on our Trecipe page (Luke Mackay even suggest bathing in Raspberry Vinegar!) and others have also contributed longer recipes on these pages.

 

Dave Aherne at Real Food Festival
 
Certainly, one of the most entertaining chefs you could hope to meet is the lovable Irishman, Dave Aherne. On a trip to London the other day, my wife and I caught up with Dave for the first time in a while, at his current "home" of Ben's Canteen in SW11. Don't be fooled by his bluff, sweary exterior, he is a gentle giant whose piercing blue eyes can spot good food ingredients a mile off! 
 
I first met Dave at the Real Food Festival last year, when he came to our stand and got all ecstatic at our "feckin amazing" vinegars. We have kept in touch ever since...
 
But he didn't even get into cheffing until he was in his mid 30s! Dave told me he came to London hoping to do Event Management, but found himself working at the popular The Ship at Wandsworth (a job found through exchanging tweets with owner, Oisin Rogers). He had a great time there, but eventually moved on to a couple of other places before arriving at this buzzing little place near Wandsworth Bridge: Ben's Canteen.

So we decided to go and have a look and were joined by our good friend, Daphine, too. The three of us tucked in to these fabulous dishes. They were followed by a sublime carrot cake with coffee, but it just about arrived at the table and was gone, hence no photo!

The tenderest cod cheeks and home made Pesto


All day Breakfast Scotch Egg with the perfect soft yolk, mushroom and bacon breadcrumb coating and black pudding.
Very good for you....
Brisket and Bone Marrow Mayo in a bap    

Dave works on many other projects including last year's successful Kaiwecare fund raiser for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. He worked with Mat Follas and many others to raise a staggering £65,000. His next major project is the "Chefs for CALM dinner." CALM stands for the Campaign Against Living Miserably, a charity working exclusively with men who suffer from depression. This is a cause close to Dave's heart, following the sad death recently of promising young chef, Kevin Boyle. Dave will be joined once more by a host of great chefs and others to create a special evening catering for 200 guests in London on 30th April. If you would like to read more about this, do read his blog where you will also find details on how to help out, if you are able.

But, if you find yourself in the Wandsworth/Clapham area at any time, don't miss a chance to visit Ben's Canteen and get a "feckin' good feed."

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Andrew Pern with a bottle
of our Raspberry Vinegar
 


Tucked away in the beautiful Yorkshire village of Harome, near Helmsley, is the thatched cottage of the Star Inn, home to one of Yorkshire's top chefs, Andrew Pern. The Star Inn has won many plaudits over the years since Andrew moved there in 1996, not least by Jasper Gerard, who wrote in The Telegraph in 2008 that "The Star is for jaded explorers on the verge of giving up the quest for the perfect rural pub."
Roux-trained, Andrew has won numerous awards including many years of a Michelin star and, last year being voted 19th in the National Restaurant Awards. He enjoys a great write up in the Egon Ronay Guide which states that "His and his team's cooking is quite exceptional..." and was a successful participant in last year's flagship BBC programme, Great British Menu. Andrew has also written a beautiful recipe book, "Loose Birds and Game" which features this exciting recipe, made with our Raspberry Vinegar...



Fallow Deer Pie with Liquorice Gravy, Scottish Girolles, Womersley Raspberry Vinegar and Curly Kale ‘Colcannon’
(Serves four)
 
I was sitting at home one night ‘in charge’ of the kids, there was a knock on the door. Standing there was Steve Smith, my Head Chef and a pie. We’d been talking about putting a Pie of the Day on the blackboard to keep The Star more ‘pubby’ and Steve conjured up this creation – combining deer and liquorice! In Yorkshire?! Somewhat dubiously, I tasted it, breaking open the shortcrust topping, to the steaming hot inside… and, I must say it is one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten. I can still taste it now, a beautiful, deep flavour with a slight edge of fruit coming from the vinegar, and the vibrant mash to mop up those lovely, liquorice juices. Who’d have ever thought you’d hear me saying that? A must-try-it!

Ingredients

For the Pie:                                                                 For the shortcrust pastry:
1kg venison, diced                                                      50g plain flour
A little oil for frying                                                    30g butter
16 baby onions                                                            Pinch of salt                            
½ bottle of red wine                                                  Cold water                             
1 ltr game stock                                                         
2 cloves garlic, crushed                                              For the Colcannon:
8 Pontefract Cakes                                                     4 Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp cornflour                                                          80g butter
1 sprig of tarragon                                                      20ml whipping cream
Seasoning                                                                    Seasoning
                                                                                    80g curly kale
100g girolle mushrooms
50ml Womersley Raspberry Vinegar
 
Deer Pie with Liquorice Gravy, taken from Andrew Pern's Book "Loose Birds & Game"

Method

Colour off the diced venison meat in a little oil with the baby onions. Fry off until nicely browned, then add the red wine, raspberry vinegar, stock, garlic and Pontefract Cakes. Simmer for approximately 1½ hours or until tender. Thicken with cornflour, add mushrooms, tarragon and seasoning, then allow to cool. Place in a suitable pot or pots, and set aside.
 
For the pastry, rub the plain flour and butter together with a pinch of salt, until ‘breadcrumb-like’, add the water and combine together into a smooth paste. Do NOT over-knead, as it will make the pastry tough. Chill for 30 minutes.
 
For the Colcannon, first boil the potatoes until soft. Drain through a sieve and mash with a little butter, cream, white pepper and salt. Add the sliced curly kale, which will wilt with the heat of the potatoes and keep warm.
 
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin and using a little flour for dusting to a thickness of 3mm. Place over the pots of venison meat mixture and trim so that the rim is covered. ‘Crimp’ the edges to stick the pastry down and make a little hole in the middle (or use a pot Blackbird!) to let out the steam. Brush the pastry with the remaining egg yolk and bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown. Warm the Colcannon and place on the plate with the pie alongside. Eat to your heart’s content!
 
Follow Andrew's Tweets on Twitter
If you would like to try more of Andrew's menu, do contact The Star Inn on 01439 770397 reservations@thestarinnatharome.co.uk  www.thestaratharome.co.uk/ 
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