Saturday, 3 December 2011

Lindy Wildsmith's Cured - all things salty meat

A couple of months ago I was sent a press release about the inaugural Festival of Cured Meats. It was billed as the first ever UK celebration and exploration of the world of charcuterie, which was pretty damn appealing to me.

Lindy Wildsmith was billed as one of the main attractions, demonstrating some techniques from her book Cured: salted, spiced, dried, smoked, potted, pickled and raw, so her publisher, who'd sent me the press release, sent me a copy of the book to play with too.

I confess, that I was a little disappointed by the reality of the Festival. It was on a much smaller scale than I had anticipated, there was no defining signage and it all felt a bit slapdash. We wandered around Southbank for a while, trying to see if there was another section of market tents that looked more Festivalesque before realising that no, that was it.

On the other hand, there was a Polish sausage stall pumping out absolutely dynamite lunchboxes. My grilled, smoked sausage, dill-redolent potatoes, salad and pickles was just what was required on a cold autumn day.

We stepped into the small "main tent" for what was billed as a French pate tasting and was in fact high comedy. Apparently the producer had been approached to participate, couldn't be bothered and sent a few tins of pate over. So they were plonked on the tables with about as much ceremony they deserved and a friendly passing French man was coopted to read the labels for us.

Then it was Lindy's turn. She demonstrated a couple of techniques from her book and passed around samples to taste. Lindy was very warm and engaging and made everything look very accessible, but there wasn't anything particularly new for me in it. The most interesting thing, for me, was the audience. There was a group from The School of Artisan Food - which I had never heard of and now I want to go - and a woman with the most extraordinarily dissatisfied facial expression. It was amazing. It was like every time she tasted anything she put her whole being into showing how much she disliked it.

After the demonstration we did a bit of shopping, picking up some smoked cheese from Artisan Smokehouse and some gorgeous ham and salami from Cannon and Cannon.

Then it was home to play with my copy of Cured.

It's a pretty good starting point for a beginner I think. Not a lot in the way of outlandish ingredients or equipment, very clear explanations and good general principles that you can apply. It's not going to replace my other preserving books, but it certainly deserves a place alongside them. The duck confit, streaky bacon and salt beef that I made were all very successful.


Joanne said...

I'm sorry you weren't so enthused about the festival, but at least that lunch box looks good!

Unknown said...

What a shame about the festival particularly when you had made all the effort to go there.

The Cat's Mother said...

That sausage is very tempting.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Joanne - I am just hoping it was first year teething problems. With any luck next year will be bigger and better!

Cara - I know! It takes a lot to get me into London on a weekend.

Mother - they are gorgeous. I can also recommend potatoes cooked with dill.

Mary Bergfeld said...

It is a shame that the festival wasn't all you wanted it to be. It does look like Lindy's book yielded a few good things. The duck confit sounds really lovely. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Deb in Hawaii said...

That lunch is making me drool. Hopefully the festival improves next year. With your skills you should be speaking at it! ;-)

Nic said...

That Polish sausage looks TO DIE FOR!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Mary - the duck confit was fabulous.

Deb - maybe the year after that!

Nic - it was SO good!

Barbara said...

Sorry the festival was a bust. The worry is word will get out that it wasn't very good and then they'll have a difficult time getting a crowd the next time.

Faux Fuchsia said...

That sausage is the Business!


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