Edible Cork and Edible London 2023
Now that we’ve caught our breath after 10 days of Edible Tours which ended on May 22nd, it’s time to review the tours and share some photos – there will be more in-depth articles in the Summer issue of the LDEI member magazine, The Quarterly, which is now available on the ldei.org website – but here’s a taster.
For 2020 we had lined up an Edible Galway tour but when we revisited the idea and realised the original programme had been compromised by the Covid pandemic, it was Anne Dolamore, having introduced Darina Allen to our Chapter, who suggested we switch our attention to Cork and the possibility of visiting Ballymaloe. Together with the fact that Cathy Sloman had attended the school for three months in the recent past and been invited back to teach there, it became the obvious choice for our first Edible Ireland adventure. Thus ensued months of research and crossings to and from Cork earlier this year and on May 15th, Cathy and Jacqui Pickles welcomed 15 visitors from the US Chapters for the five day Edible Cork tour.
It became a real celebration of the achievements of (mainly) Irish women in food from start to finish. A chance meeting with Rebecca Harte, manager of the Farmgate Café in The English Market resulted in our organising a celebration of such women at a specially arranged dinner there on our first night. Rebecca had kindly invited six guests, all in our field of work, who joined to tell their stories and to set the scene for things to come.
From Thursday to Saturday, we covered the City of Cork, East and West of there with visits to special suppliers and restaurants. From the market traders in the English market to sustainable fish smoking, buffalo farming and mozzarella making, black pudding production, oyster farming, whisky and mead distillation, we covered it all. Other special dinners were held at the celebrated vegetarian restaurant, Paradiso, and at Goldie, with a fabulous fish menu devised by Head Chef Aishling Moore from the daily catch. A rather special “pub” supper rounded off an afternoon in Kinsale at the Bulman Inn.
Our final day saw us headed for Shanagarry and the organic farm and gardens of the world renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School. We were welcomed royally by Darina and Tim Allen who generously gave their time to our group – sharing stories, imparting their wealth of knowledge and guiding us around the magnificent gardens and grounds. After an afternoon attending the May Fair up at the nearby Ballymaloe House, Darina and Tim were our guests there for a sumptious final supper. Heartfelt thanks to them for the memorable visit to the school.
A total of 22 US Dames (a few ‘Dudes’ included) and a new London Dame, Angela Dansby who lives in Brussels, joined us in London on Wednesday 17th May – they met quite a few London members, and a couple of surprise guests at the Welcome Reception at No. 16 Hotel in South Kensington.
Thursday featured A Bespoke Tour of Fortnum and Masons hosted by a F & M ‘redcoat’, and a Private Tour of Berry Brothers & Rudd with wine tasting – the group was split into two with Jacqui Pickles and Fiona Richmond chaperoning the former, while Sue Carter with another new London Dame, Hermione Ireland chaperoned the latter.
Both tours were hugely popular and those at Fortnums went on to Brasserie Zedel for lunch while the Wine group crossed over to the wine private members’ club 67 Pall Mall for a private lunch and a tour of their cellars.
Dinner was at Darjeeling Express for a Royal Thali Feast hosted by Asma Khan.
Friday was spent either at the wonderful School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire or exploring English wine and culture in East Sussex. Dame Alison Parente welcomed the group, with hosts Jacqui Pickles and Catherine Sloman, to SOAF where they visited the school, viewed a demo of how to make pork pies and scotch eggs, visited the farm shop and the Hartley Gallery within the Welbeck Estate grounds and ended with tea and scones (plus a tour of the gardens) hosted by Alison and her husband William.
Meanwhile in Sussex the group had a full day which was time-critical. Fiona Richmond and Valentina Harris kept the time and started with a visit to the Ditchling Museum of Crafts. Next, Ridgeview Estate for a tasting of sparkling wines before driving east to the Rathfinney Estate for lunch and more sparkling wines. After lunch there was a private visit to Firle House (our Jane Austen fans were thrilled!) then on to Charleston Farmhouse for tour of the house and garden, the wartime residence of Bloomsbury members Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. The day ended with a wine and Sussex cheese and charcuterie tasting presented by Valentina Harris and Emma Rice (currently a consulting winemaker, previously head winemaker at Hattingly Valley Wines).
Saturday is Market Day and our traditional visit to Borough Market – while the visitors ranged through the market with various chaperones and Borough experts Jacqui and her kitchen team (Dames Andrea Waters and Catherine Sloman) were busy buying and preparing a classic market picnic. Along with the delicious food, our guests were introduced by BM Communications Director and Dame Kate Howell to Mark Riddaway (Borough Market:Edible Histories) and Angela Clutton (Borough Market: The Knowledge). They both generously shared their stories of the market, and its history as they sat overlooking the Thames at Glaziers Hall.
Saturday night is Dine-Around night – Dames host small groups at their favourite restaurants. The restaurants and hosts this year were Jacqui Pickles at Chez Bruce, Elisabeth Luard at Moro, Sue Carter at Myrtle, Fiona Richmond at Portland and Valentina Harris at Theo Randall at the Intercontinental.
Sunday morning was an early brunch at the Coachmaker’s Arms in Marylebone where the group were treated to kedgeree and bloody marys while they were entertained by Sheila Dillon and Carolyn Steel who spoke about her books, Hungry City and Sitopeia. Clearly the best of friends, the chat was both informal and informative – Carolyn is a compelling speaker – check her on YouTube.
We re-grouped that evening at Elystan Street restaurant where Chef Phil Howard welcomed us with Champagne and canapes before serving a perfect English summer dinner. London Dames and friends joined in the fun. What a great way to wish everyone a fond farewell.
Our thanks go to all of those who helped to bring these events together:
First, the planning team – Jacqui Pickles, Sue Carter, Anne Dolamore, Valentina Harris, Cathy Sloman and Fiona Richmond
The additional London Dames who participated/hosted/chaperoned: Darina Allen, Sheila Dillon, Kate Howell, Hermione Ireland, Elisabeth Luard, Gina McAdam, Julia Platt Leonard, Emma Rice, Alison Swan Parente and Andrea Waters
The Friends of LDE London who helped: Rosemary Barron, Chrissie and Graham Walker
Donors for the Goody Bag: Fiona Cairns, Prue Leith, Borough Market
Finally, our guest speakers: Angela Clutton, Mark Riddaway and Carolyn Steel
Credit for photos go to Chrissie Walker (Elystan Street); Angela Dansby (Fortnum & Mason, SOAF, Borough Market and Brunch among others); Susan Slack other US Dames for Cork and other venues and Valentina Harris for Sussex.