One vegetable that is always on our menu that I love and we grow is kohlrabi. We grow a variety called purple azure, which is just so adaptable. It’s a cross between cabbage and turnip and we often serve it salt-baked or pickled, with watercress purée and fresh milk curds, confit peppers, alfalfa shoots and lettuce plugs — a lettuce we grow at our farm in Cartmel.
Apple Marigold is a herb I absolutely love and I’ve hardly it seen being used anywhere else. It’s part of the marigold family and we use it for its intense apple flavour, which is really rounded off to a flavour profile that is incomparable to anything else. At the moment we’re using it in an ice cream, which we serve with chocolate ganache, a caramelised cocoa biscuit and a rapeseed oil cream. Although we have a very British ethos, we also experiment with produce that isn’t indigenous to the UK but which we choose to grow ourselves.
We owe a lot to the humble radish. Our whole farm operation was out of frustration at not being able to buy the perfect radish. What is the perfect radish? Obviously taste is everything; texture [and] appearance. We look for a radish that has the right amount of moisture in it and pepperiness. We also want it to be crisp and have the perfect leaf attached to it. And you just can’t seem to find that here in Britain, so we decided to grow them ourselves. At the moment we’re using our radishes alongside our scallops, which we serve with sunflower shoots and horseradish.
We used to rear our own pigs. They were lop-eared pigs and we would use them for our suckling pig, which became something of a speciality of ours. They are, however, very high maintenance and we didn’t have the manpower to look after them. We will be going back to rearing pigs one day but for now we’re happy using the amazing suppliers that are out there. We use a guy in Shropshire called Richard Vaughn. We’re using him at Fera for quite an unusual 55-day dry-aged pig. A lot of people say you can’t dry-age pork, but you can as long as it’s got sufficient fat content, which Middle White [pigs] has. The farm is called Huntsham farm. Its dry-aged pork is very expensive but once you taste it, you know it’s worth every penny. The flavour is just incredible! It’s on the menu at Fera at the moment and we serve it with carrots, black pudding and girolle mushrooms. The carrots we serve are quite interesting. We grow them ourselves and we serve them with the pork as quite a unique carrot sauce, which we prepare with a rotary evaporator. The moisture from the carrot juice is reduced at a very low temperature to intensify the flavour. It comes out as a syrupy consistency, which retains all of its nutrients because it’s hardly been cooked at all.
I can’t ever imagine a menu without mushrooms, but unfortunately our season in England is very short. We buy our mushrooms from a company who cultivate them in Hampshire called Fundamentally Fungus. They’re probably the best mushrooms that you can buy. They produce all different types of varieties and give me the ability to have mushrooms all year round. Plus they’re UK-based, which is very important to us. Specific types? Hen of the woods mushrooms; king oysters and there’s a very nice meaty mushroom called abalone, as in the seafood. When you slice them and cook them, they go an off-white colour and look just like the abalone’s meaty flesh.
Like mushrooms, I can’t imagine a menu without scallops – they’re my favourite shellfish. We get our scallops from a company called Keltic Seafare in Gairloch, up in the north west of Scotland. They’re all hand-dived and they’re sent to us fresh, the very next day. Scotland is the cream of the crop for shellfish. It has crystal clear, clean, non-polluted waters, so we try to buy all of our shellfish from there.
Simons larder list
55- day dry-aged pig | Huntsham Court Farm |www.huntsham.com
Mushrooms | Fundamentally Fungus |www.fundamentally.net
Scallops | Keltic Seafare |www.kelticseafare.com