Monday night saw me attend a Slow Food Supper at the Edinburgh Larder Bistro, a restaurant committed to using the best local Scottish produce. Slow Food Suppers are an opportunity for like minded people to come together to chat and enjoy really good food. This element of conviviality, of the enjoyment of sharing good, clean and fair food together is central to the Slow Food movement. Edinburgh Larder Bistro have hosted a number of suppers and are keen supporters of Slow Food.
In recent months the Edinburgh events have welcomed special guests and suppliers such as Clyde Valley Tomatoes to talk about what they produce and why it's special in today's world of tasteless mass-produced food. This time, the speaker was Donna from Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh who talked about the pigs they raise there. At the farm she does amazing work helping disadvantaged and troubled children and teenagers by getting them involved looking after the pigs and learning more about farming and animal husbandry. At the heart of its local community, the farm is a valuable place where the kids can find out about where their food comes from, but more importantly helps them feel engaged and included in their often troubled lives.
I was there supporting both Slow Food and the farm, where I have been volunteering with their 'Fork to Fork' gardening and cookery lessons. Our feast for the evening was some of Gorgie Farm's very own pork, raised less than a couple of miles from where we were sitting. These pigs have a happy life, something Donna is passionate about, having grown up on a farm and been around animals all her life. She draws the line at giving them names, only referring to the Gloucester Old Spot we were eating as 'Pig 006'. Using as much of the animal as possible is important to her, and this nose to tail ethos is shared at Edinburgh Larder Bistro. We started with some crackling, I'm not always a fan but this was wonderful, crisp, not too chewy and flecked with spices including sweet roasted fennel seeds.
From the choice of mains we had to try Pig 006, including different cuts cooked different ways. There were choice slices of pan fried loin and then slow cooked belly and cheek (I think), with a decedent layer of fat. Also included was the oink, so I'm told, although I didn't spot it I ate it all up. The pork was served with braised peas and lettuce in a jus and garnished with wild rocket flowers. Our table played a game of 'guess the foraged wild flower' for a while!
Also on the menu was home smoked Pollock with cauliflower, heritage potatoes and bacon. This was a generous slab of fish, highly seasoned and served with some perfectly cooked veg. A veggie option of spelt and barley risotto unsurprisingly didn't get a look in! I wasn't planning on having a dessert (extra in the price), but the Espresso and Pecan tart with homemade ice cream changed my mind. I love coffee and pecans so I had to have it; the ice cream, though a small portion tasted had a pure, milky taste, worth ten yellow scoops from a carton. The tart was good, the pecans were excellent, however I didn't get a strong taste of espresso but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Though it was exciting to visit the restaurant, somewhere that's been on my list for a while, the supper wasn't all about the menu. It was a chance to meet some kindred spirits and share the evening talking about food, life and everything else (if there is anything else!). More so, it was about showing support for those that care about where food comes from and celebrating the work they do. That can go beyond producing and selling us the best in artisan produce, it can have a life changing effect. Gorgie Farm is a charity, so if you're in Edinburgh do visit, see the animals, buy some sausages and help them continue to make a difference.
Edinburgh Larder Bistro, 1a Alva Street, Edinburgh EH2 4PH
Gorgie City Farm, 51 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh EH1 2LA