I learned a very important lesson on Tuesday night of this week. Never, and I repeat, never eat a full dinner before attending an Appetite Sheffield event.
Appetite Sheffield is a new venture created by Ros Arksey and Clare Tollick. They share a love of food and have joined forces to spread the word about local food producers and events in and around the steel city.
Ros and I had been following each other for a while on Twitter, reading each others blog posts and sharing little anecdotes, before we met. As other bloggers will know, many of the people who read your words are strangers, often from other continents, and the chances of you ever meeting are quite slim. But in October of last year I attended a literary event and Ros was sitting three rows in front of me. I recognised her immediately when she fired a question at our host for the evening – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – introduced herself and her blog “Nibbly Pig”. A few weeks ago she told me about Appetite Sheffield and an even she and Clare were planning.
A Day in the Life of a Sheffield Appetite was held at the Fusion Organic Cafe – which is a pretty special place in its own right – and showcased foods from different producers following the meals of the day – breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and dessert.
We were a little late arriving thanks to the challenging road layout that someone in the Council thought was a good idea to keep motorists out of the city, ut after collecting our tickets and took our drinks tokens to get our beverages (wine for Liz, a bottle of local Bradfield Farmers Blonde beer for me) we found two spare seats to the side of the room just as breakfast was being served.
Breakfast was provided by Moss Valley Fine Meats who demonstrated ham curing and sausage making while we, the greedy audience, fed ourself on samples of their delicious produce. Breakfast was swiftly followed by elevenses and was, of course, tea and cake. The tea was provided by Tea Box, a local loose leaf tea company who passed around samples of a Chai tea that was light, scented and tasted like Christmas. It went wonderfully well with cake samples prepared by Komal – a chef at the Fusion Cafe.
After elevenses came lunch which was provided by Just Preserves, a small scale preserves producer, who passed around plates of aromatic, spicy chutney, piccalilli and relish – devoured with a generous slice of John Crawshaw’s Pork Pie and peri-peri chicken.
No gravy required.
By now Liz and I were seriously regretting the steak pie we had eaten before leaving home but with a steely determination not to miss a morsel of this delicious food we pressed on to the afternoon snack of lamb pasties. The Fusion lamb pasty is one of Liz’s favourite things (I am sure it was why she came to the event) but I had never tasted one before and I was not disappointed. During the demonstration everyone was stunned by how much filling could be squeezed into the pastry round without breaking the pastry when it was nipped together. The spicy lamb filling was quite dry to look at but the natural fats from the lamb kept it moist and delicious, it needed nothing else.
For dinner we were served one of the freshest eggs I am sure I have ever eaten. Provided and cooked by Whirlow Hall Farm the soft boiled egg and kale salad was a delight. It was light yet filling (not that we needed filling at this point) and amazingly fresh. Whirlow Hall Farm is an amazing organization founded over 30 years ago to work with inner city children and those with disabilities.
As desert arrived I felt the button on my trousers pop but I was not going to pass up on pudding. Affogato is an ice-cream desert topped with espresso. The ice-cream was provided by local producer Our Cow Molly (the espresso by Tamper Coffee, an independent coffee house). Eddie, Mollies dad, gave probably my favourite presentation of the evening as he talked at length about milk production and the endless rules and regulations surrounding the food industry. Did you know that meat can be imported into the UK from overseas but if it is tampered with enough it can be classed as British meat?
Eddie didn’t just bring Mollies ice-cream and an encyclopedic knowledge, he also brought samples of milk for us to try. One sample was from a bottle of supermarket bought milk and the other was from his own herd. The difference was amazing. His milk was creamy and sweet while the supermarket sample was watery and bland. There was a good chance that the supermarket milk was days old (even though he had purchased it on his way to the event) while his own milk was just hours.
We came away from the event stuffed, our bags full of jars of newly purchased pickles and a promise to visit Tamper Coffee one afternoon for cappuccino and conversation.
I would have liked to have had more time to speak with more of the food producers and the other attendees but, as many new(ish) mums know, my ability to stay awake much after 10 pm is a challenge so we said our goodbyes and clicked our heels back to the car, our thoughts turning to sleep.
The the first Appetite Sheffield event was undoubtedly a success, all credit should go to Ros and Clare for their organisation and commentary. I am sure more tasty morsels will follow.
There is too much to say about each and everyone of the producers who took part in the event. I could try but it would make this post inexplicably long but you can find details on their web pages. I urge you to take look.
- Moss Valley Fine Meats
- Tea Box
- Just Preserves
- Whirlow Hall Farm
- Our Cow Molly
- Tamper Coffee
- Fusion Organic
- Sheffield on Twitter – February 2012 update (sheffieldblog.com)