Conversation Cafe

At the beginning of April we hosted our 5th Annual Conversation Cafe at The Barrel House in Totnes. I invited Dr Clare Pettinger from Plymouth University, South Devon to talk about her Food as a Lifestyle Motivator research project (FLM) and Gill Coombs to host and facilitate the evening, while I catered it and organised the logistics.

Sixty people came and heard a short talk from Clare about her work with marginalised community members using food to engage people about matters such as mental and physical health, social inclusion & lifestyle changes. To be honest, this blog is difficult to write and can’t be too detailed about the actual discussions, as I was too busy serving and over-seeing the event to engage, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how it went.

After Gill’s intro and Clares talk, we served a delicious meal of Goatherd or Gardeners pies. The vegetarian option was a selection of local, seasonal veg in a rich gravy, topped with White Lake goat cheesed and wild garlic mash (there was a mini vegan option available as well). The goat, from Painsford Manor Farm, was slow cooked in red wine & homemade stock with local, seasonal veg again topped with wild garlic mash. The meal was served with balsamic vinegar braised beetroot & red cabbage and carrots, orange & cumin. We then served New Lion Brewery ale & chocolate cake & rhubarb ginger cake (which was gluten free).

After everyone had eaten, Gill facilitated a lively debate, held at each table in small groups. A few questions were posed by Gill to everyone and discussions were shared. Tables were then given the opportunity to feed back to the room – this was really interesting as different guests had varied experiences on-which to draw, had different opinions and ideas for solutions.. The work Clare has been doing moved everyone greatly and the energy and good feeling in the room was palpable.

16.4.6 convo cafe 2 16.4.6 convo cafe IMG_1323[1]

Next year, we hope to have another interesting speaker – if you know of anyone who would enjoy speaking about a food related subject, something that is perhaps controversial or contentious around which a lively debate can held, please do get in touch!

Supplier of the Season; Spring. Laydilay

This season; Spring, our celebrated supplier is Laydilay – Organic free-range eggs, mayonnaise and meringues. I went to see them recently – in their lovely new unit in Buckfastleigh, near Totnes. It wasn’t the farm and I didn’t get to see chickens, but I did get to catch up with Mandy and meet their master mayonnaise and meringue maker! As well as collecting my trays of free-range organic eggs. I love that I have known Andy and Mandy since we first started The Kitchen Table and have felt supported throughout our growth and development – from re-tweets by Andy to visits to our Bay Horse BBQ’s, they’ve been a presence in our business – as well as supplying us with the best mayo in Devon!

We recently started getting their eggs, with their rich yellow yolks and fresh flavour, it’s good to know the providence of our local produce – especially in light of the greyness that is the concept of free-range. I think it’s really sad how supermarkets have lept on consumers concerns for animal welfare and are able to label eggs as free-range when in actual fact, the chicken get a brief moment in the day light but are mostly crammed in over-crowded sheds. I feel good in the knowledge that Laydilay run their farm to the highest welfare standards and that the chickens have a lovely, truly free existence – even if they do have to contend with months of rain!

This is a seasonal cake recipe I made for a high tea recently that went down a storm with the client & her guests;

Homemade rhubarb & ginger cake
rhubarb ginger cake
Serves 8.
175g Self Raising flour (or 170g plain flour & 1 heaped tsp baking powder)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp powdered ginger
175g butter (soft, at room temperature)
175g caster sugar
3 free-range organic eggs
2-4 sticks rhubarb, washed & chopped up
1 tbs dark sugar
150g crystallised ginger
1/2 cup icing sugar mixed with a little water to make icing
Preheat oven to 180*/ gas 4. Grease your tin (spring form or rectangle – I always greaseproof paper my tins).
Sift dry ingredients.
Stew the rhubarb, brown sugar & 100g ginger chunks (reserve 50g for the topping).
Beat the butter and sugar, add the eggs then the dry ingredients. You should have a thick smooth batter. Stir in the fruit mixture and pour into the tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out. Sprinkle the top with ginger chunks and drizzle with icing.