Apprentices meet ‘Buttervilla’ Rob and Sean ‘The Modern Salad Grower’
Earlier this month our apprentices made a trip to visit some of our lovely suppliers; Rob from Buttervilla and Sean from The Modern Salad Grower. The sourcing trips are an important part of the Apprentice Programme, helping them to understand the importance of fantastic, local produce and where it comes from.
The visit started with a trip to Rob’s newest crops, deep in the depths of the Cornish countryside on a new spot of land. At the bottom of the field were several long polly tunnels laden with varieties of heritage tomatoes.
Rob had gathered a large selection of his crop to feed our hungry gang – and we weren’t disappointed! He had several remarkable and interesting anecdotes about his tomatoes including a glass of Earl Edgcumbe seeds he had found on his travels in California. The tomato was brought over by an heir to the title (Earl Edgcumbe) from New Zealand in the 1960’s, which is how it got its name. The smooth round orange globes had a beautiful, vibrant, juicy inner – which many of the apprentices had never seen.
Rob also brought along some lovely little cherry tomatoes, which he described as ‘little sweets’, it was difficult to tear ourselves away from them, they were so delicious. He also brought along some seasalt infused with seaweed as an accompaniment to highlight the flavours in the tomatoes as well as a homemade chilli sauce, made with some of his home-grown chillies.
After demolishing a whole crate of tomatoes, we headed on to meet Sean ‘The Modern Salad Grower’ at Keveral Farm; Sean and his team have been growing organic salads for 15 years. At the Modern Salad Grower they produce salad leaves, micro leaves, microgreens, edible flowers and herbs.
On our arrival Sean showed us around each of his polly tunnels bursting with produce – from the unusual and quirky to the brilliant and beautiful. We individually tasted some weird and wonderful food including pineapple sage, exploding cucumbers, thai basil, African horned cucumbers and rainbow chard to name a few – it was like walking into Willy Wonkers chocolate factory! Sean pointed out various herbs and leaves which were bound for top chefs such as Gordan Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Yotam Ottoleghni and the list goes on. Here are a few of our favourites:
After the tour, the apprentices were given their challenge; to make lunch for everyone using ingredients from the polly tunnels plus a few extras brought from the restaurant. Rob had also brought along some more of his lovely tomatoes and a bag full of his freshly dug potatoes.
They set about foraging for ingredients – and how brilliant to be able to choose your ingredients from such a bountiful larder of produce. In their two teams they gathered their ingredients and set about designing their dishes. Sean had also organised a wood fired oven and BBQ outside, so it was also a matter of deciding on how they could cook the ingredients.
Within a short space of time they had sliced, diced, chopped, grilled and fried their ingredients and were ready to serve lunch to the hungry group looking on with anticipation. Jordan had prepared a delicious Panzenella salad using Rob’s sweet tomatoes, some bread from the restaurant and some spring onions, chillies and basil from Sean. Apprentices Jodie and Joanna created their version of an antipasti board with chargrilled cucumber, cured meats, grilled peppers, a tomato and leaf salad and some garlic toasts.
We also had stuffed courgette flowers wrapped in bacon from Andy and Alex, and an apple and blackberry salad by Miriam.
Everyone was extremely impressed with the dishes they produced and how they worked together as a team to create a delicious lunch for everyone. We all thoroughly enjoyed the day, a big thank you to Rob from Buttervilla and Sean The Modern Salad Grower for looking after us so well.
If you haven’t seen it already our trip was also featured in last Saturdays Western Morning News, click here to read the article.