This October we've been involved it The Great Bath Feast, a month-long festival championing local food and produce. We leapt at the chance to create a menu using only ingredients sourced from the Bath area and to hold a special evening event to showcase the delicious vegetables, fruit, cheeses, oils and dairy which is grown and made in and around Bath. Our chef Jo Ingleby put together this event with inspiration from the local Farmers Markets in Bath and Bristol and local producers and growers who we are keen to support at the Vegetarian Cookery School and Demuths Restaurant.
The evening included practical skills for how to chop and prepare seasonal vegetables, plus also pastry making and lots of discussion about how to plan menus based on what is in season. The only non-local ingredients we used during the evening were spices, lemons and nuts (although if you know of a local nut grower please let us know!).
Our passion has always been for vegetables: as fresh, seasonal and local as possible. For our vegetables we have built up a relationship over decades with Eades greengrocers and Castle Farm Organics, both of whom supply the restaurant with our fresh and local produce. Castle Farm grow selected produce specifically for Demuths and we love their baskets of edible flowers, fragrant herbs and zesty salads. October is a brilliant time for squash, too, and we used a whole basket of baby patty pan, flowers and all, for the evening class.
The patty pan were treated simply and cooked in a tempered rapeseed oil spiced with mustard seeds, garlic, chilli and kolongi. This dish was inspired by Urvashi Roe, who came and taught a fantastic Gujerati Cookery Day the school recently. Our chillies were all picked from The Upton Cheyney Chilli Farm, local food heroes and producers of not only a huge array of fresh chillies but also homemade sauces and chocolates. The Patty pan dish was finished with cubes of fresh Homewood Haloumi which we stir fried with the squash until golden. This simple dish was so quick to make but tasted incredible, a real winner with our guests and perfect as a light supper or starter.
Homewood Cheeses are lovingly made by Tim and Angela, who you can meet at any of the local Farmers Markets and buy their delicious Ewes cheeses. We love the Pickled Ewes Cheese which is like a far superior feta, their fresh Haloumi (which is not at all rubbery as shop bought haloumi often is) and their hard cheese, Old Demdike. Demuths usually feature one or more of these cheeses on the menu, they are made using purely vegetarian rennet at their farm in the Mendips.
Our students got hands on with making Chard and Ewes Cheese Pastries with a light pastry made with local flour (Shipton Mill) eggs (Farmers Market) oil (Bath Harvest) and a filling made from local chard cooked lightly with a little garlic and crumbled Ewes Cheese. They learnt how to make the beautiful half crescent pastries but also discussed how to vary the filling to suit the seasons and also how to make a larger family sized pie. The pastries were served hot from the oven with a dip of local yoghurt (Dreamers) and chopped Lemon Mint from Castle Farm.
At the Cookery School and Demuths we are increasingly using Rapeseed oil in place of olive oil. Rapeseed is local, sustainable and versatile-it also tastes delicious and can be used cold or in cooking. Rapeseed has a high burn point so you can cook to high temperatures without burning. For the class we used Bath Harvest Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil-raw in the salad dressings and cooked in the pastry, stir fry and mushrooms.
Local producers Dorset Down Mushrooms provided enormous Portobello Mushrooms for the event; we stuffed these with Puy Lentils, Beetroot roasted with Rosemary and Sage and topped with a slice of either Bath Soft Cheese or Bath Blue Cheese. Bath Soft Cheese are another of our favourite local producers and we have served them at the restaurant for over ten years. Their soft cheese tastes like a very good brie and the Blue is creamy and just the right level of blue.
Our commitment to local produce did not stop with the main course-for pudding we made local pears cooked in Honey and Daughter Cider with the aromatic spice flavours of cinnamon, vanilla and star anise. These delicious sweet pears were served with a generous dollop of local raw milk cream.
And let's not forget Orchard Pig's apple juice, made in Somerset, which we had on hand to sip throughout the workshop and enjoy with our meal.
The aim of the evening was not only to showcase produces and makers but to also encourage people to cook what is best locally-looking at the seasonal produce and what is available on our doorsteps. We would love to hold more classes like this and also invite local producers to come along and showcase their products. Please do get in touch or leave a comment below if you would like to join us or if there is a local producer you would like us to feature.