It’s fair to say and reasonable to agree our loveable world of hospitality has been slapped square across both cheeks by the proverbial kipper for so many years now it’s almost comical if it were not for the shocking fallout. You may remember seven years ago David C. stretched his shiny new Brexit bow only to snap the string on the first pull sending jitters deep into the pockets of the spending public. It’s a situation that has not reversed either, with uncertainty fuelled by the D. Trump rollercoaster, Theresa’s very special attempts at negotiating peace with Europe and Boris finally ripping off the band-aid 3 years later.
For those who survived this self-inflicted trading nightmare the summer of 2019 looked a reasonable opportunity to steady the ship and perhaps invest with a view to growth into a busy 2020. Que some random acts of God or a Wuhan test tube spill and follow up with a double measure of global financial chaos. POW, 3 more years of unprecedented trading conditions where one could forgive any who simply decide to shut-up shop, but no sir we’re not done yet! I think we need another PM, no we need two more PM’s, and a new monarch, and to crash the pound, and a punchy QE inflation surge, so let us bless all those beautiful train drivers for destroying our December 2022 trading period on year 7 hammering home that final nail.
Well if you’re still in the game then many congratulations, you deserve a big shiny medal. If you’ve achieved this without taking on onerous amounts of company and personal debt then your name should be written into the record books as a great success! So what to make of 2023, where to place your chips once again? If you’ve not already raked over your cashflow do this now and if you have, do it again. Lean out your offerings and go steady with extravagant marketing, be choosy with your team and invigorate those who have been loyal, become niche where you can and axe anything that has reduced margin and ventures away from your core operation. With this foundation don’t forget to enjoy yourself, reward achievements and be pragmatic with failure. Remember stress is related directly to lack of achievement so send an old client a refreshing e-mail and you’ll feel much better!
Ingredient of the Month | Celeriac
Widely available with great versatility it’s delicious raw and even better roast or pureed. When sliced thin and eaten raw it exhibits subtle aromas of anise with a fine even crunch adapting perfectly into remoulades and slaws. When cubed and roast with lemon oil, sea salt and thyme it’s excellent in chunky salads or for finishing off casseroles and finally you can poach and puree with double cream and parsnips for a hearty winter soup. Chef’s tip: Use a sturdy knife to chop around the base before peeling the rest as normal. It lasts ages in the fridge and is cheaper than chips!
Wine of the Month | Mosel Riesling
With a nod to those keeping it under control in this not so dry Jan (sorry a weather pun, must avoid) the intriguing and exacting slate driven Rieslings of Mosel register alcohol volumes closer to 8 and 9% meaning a glass or two can be served chilled with a little less guilt. Donnhoff, Prum, Fritz Haag and Grosset are all top producers with 2017 and 19 being top vintages. Well worth a look.
Technique of the Month | Base Sauces
The lack of fresh ingredients tempts a more frugal approach with a focus towards soups, stews and casseroles during these darker days. Experiment by cutting a variety of vegetables into a finer dice than usual, first sauté half with butter covered for 30 minutes while simmering the rest in water for a similar time, strain the water into the first batch, reduce by ½ and freeze. Add this wherever you see fit for richer soups, pasta sauces, broths and gravies. Chef’s Tip: use left-over wine, ends of herbs, dried out garlic cloves and even used tea bags to infuse more flavour, don’t’ worry if the first ones are a failure and if it’s a keeper, label it before you freeze it!
Out and About | Patisserie Gatineau
Personally, it’s dry Jan for me, even coffee is on the chopping block as tragic as that seems although they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. All this sensible living leads to a general lack of culinary exploration but one recent delight was a mornings exploration of the Gatineau Artisan Patisserie and Bakery in Summer Town, Oxford. A delightful traditional French patisserie where the production kitchen to the back is clearly far larger than the café at the front, a good sign! The macaroons are exceptional and so is their traditional Parisienne baguette and this is just the start, do pay them a visit! www.gatineau.uk.com