One of the benefits of living on the very edge of London by the Green Belt is having the chance to enjoy local produce.
Allotment owners know this well as do visitors to Lewis of London at Fold Farm who get to see the cows producing milk for their delicious ice cream. Regular readers will know that we’re big fans of Forty Hall wines – also produced within the M25.
Neighbouring Enfield is generating quite a name for celebrating local produce. This is being spearheaded by Forty Hall Farm which is run by Capel Manor College along with a dedicated team of volunteers. It hosts a monthly Farmers’ Market, an annual apple day show-casing fruit from their orchard and the Enfield Food Festival. They also offer the Enfield Veg Co. bag scheme with collection points across the area and, of course, magnificent Forty Hall is next door.
However, our ears really pricked up when we heard about their “EnField to Fork” tour and supper-club event for Urban Food Fortnight. We donned our wellies and some outer layers, booked a taxi and headed over there for some delicious early autumn fare. Starting off with a welcoming warming glass of spicy shrub (prepared by local food writer Angela Clutton), we strolled around the orchard before being taken on a guided tour of the market garden and vineyard. At various points we enjoyed canapés prepared by Ben Murphy (chef and manager of EN_Food at the Dugdale Centre) and volunteers spoke about the various aspects of the farm that include the mental health benefits and on-site presence of therapists to maximise this.
Strolling around, we saw an amazing array of organic produce and livestock: vegetables, fruit, flowers, rare-breed sheep and pigs and had a wine tasting alongside the magnificent vines – with some generous bunches of grapes still waiting to be harvested. Feeling so far removed from the metropolis, yet still within the M25, it was a memorable way of spending a late Saturday afternoon. What’s more, it stayed dry.
We headed back to the Black Barn for another glass of shrub (this time, a pear and fino sherry cocktail) before sitting down at long tables for dinner prepared by chef Frankie Ebdon. We started off with beetroot hummus and slow cooked squash dip with Holtwhites Bakery Sourdough. Both had such pure, vibrant flavours, you could have happily spent the rest of the evening just on those.
However, slow cooked ras al-hanout pork shoulder followed, served with an amazing range of vegetable dishes – roast Robinta potatoes, Selma fennel, Rosa radish, Palla Rossa radicchio, Jannis beetroot, Black Magic cavolo nero, cumin and citrus carrots and mixed leaf salad. The veggie option sounded equally good – sweet dumpling squash with a Middle Eastern stuffing of butter beans and seasonal vegetables, topped with feta and pine nut crust. There were also pickles expertly made by Angela Clutton (author of recently published The Vinegar Cupboard). She had also made the puddings – balsamic glazed apples with cocoa nib and hazelnut crumb and poached pear in Forty Hall Vineyard Bacchus with chocolate clafoutis. All the dishes were presented in large serving dishes to share out “family-style” and washed down with Forty Hall wines available from the bar. Live music also added to the convivial atmosphere.
A deliciously memorable few hours in great company and, as to food miles, practically none.
For details of future events “like” their Facebook page and book well in advance. Places get snapped up quickly.