Food files: Five minutes with Steven Lamb of River Cottage
The River Cottage curing and smoking expert, author and Food Tube presenter reveals his food philosophy and his culinary heroes
Smoking and curing is a gift to the taste buds
Curing meat or smoking fish doesn't only result in a delicious end product; the gift is much greater than that. These are processes that unlock the secrets of some of our best-loved, most useful ingredients. They give you the keys to the citadel of smoky, salty-sweet-savoury moreishness: the hallowed place where bacon, air-dried ham, smoked salmon and kippers dwell.
Scandinavia inspires me
River Cottage is a hotbed of talent and passion, so it is easy to be inspired on a daily basis. However, further afield I find inspiration in Scandinavian cuisine which is simple and packed full of flavour from a clever use of seasonal and wild ingredients.
Salt is a hero ingredient
Without question my favourite ingredient is salt - not ordinary table salt but good quality gourmet salt that is packed full of minerals and flavour, which you apply yourself as opposed to being secreted away in processed foods. Salt has amazing attributes, it enhances flavour, cures and preserves and suppresses bitterness. Although most view salt as a health hazard it is actually true that your body needs it and without it would suffer.
Keep it simple
My food philosophy is a combination of simple, seasonal and high-quality and welfare produce with a prominent slant towards local ingredients.
Steven and River Cottage head chef Gill Mellor are hosting a three-day residential cookery course at Kilkenny's Croan Cottages alongside Francis and Niamh Nesbitt on April 15-17. It costs €690; croancottages.com
Juicing your own lemons and limes is one of the least onerous tasks you can do in the kitchen and the small effort pays back multifold when you compare the taste of freshly squeezed stuff to concentrate. Choose a juicer in copper to tap into one of 2016's big interior trends, metallics. J by Jasper Conran juicer, €22.50, available at Debenhams.
Reeling in the Years menu
Classic dishes from the 1970s and ’80s have been re-imagined to wonderful effect at Citron Restaurant in Dublin’s Fitzwilliam Hotel. The Reeling in the Years menu includes ‘spam’, made from pressed ham, with egg mayo, pickle and toast and an elegant peach melba. Three courses are €39 and two courses are €32. fitzwilliamhoteldublin.com
This month we're...
You can now enjoy a guilt-free morning mocha with Irish organic vegan company That Protein's new product, Chirpy Chirpy Choca Mocha Super Protein. High in fibre, antioxidants and - you guessed it - protein, it's free from added sugar and artificial sweeteners and very moreish, especially with coconut milk. Priced €16.95 available online at thatprotein.com and stockists including Nourish stores.
Executive chef Tom Flavin at Limerick Strand Hotel has introduced a menu reflecting typical 1916 fare. Limerick was famous for bacon production and Flavin's reflecting that in dishes such as whole hog pressed pork terrine with pickled onion and radish. See strandlimerick.ie
Keeping it real...
Vogue contributing editor Calgary Avansino (above) is a great advertisement for the healthy living lifestyle she champions. Her new book, Keep it Real (Yellow Kite, €31.60) features 100 recipes centred on plant-based, and low sugar and wheat food. She advocates incorporating more whole foods and veg into your diet, in a delicious way.