MONDAY 18 APRIL 2011 • THE PARTY'S OVER BUT THE (FRENCH) FUN IS JUST BEGINNING
A fond farewell to Kitchen Secrets, and on to the next French adventure!
Today the party ends - BBC2 transmits the last programme of the current series of Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets. In view of the recent wonderful weather, we’re ending on a terrific seasonal high, featuring the freshest of summer greens. The basil for the soupe au pistou is not yet in the open garden, but the sorrel for the salmon is now at its lemony, vigorous best.
In this second series, running up to a royal wedding, we’ve made the traditional French wedding pastry (it seems odd to call it a cake!), pièce montée de croquembouche. So here’s this good French Republican’s tribute to the British Royal Wedding, amagnificently towering, impressive pastry pyramid.
This is also a good time to celebrate our food heroes – those we filmed and talked to in the course of the second series of Kitchen Secrets, such as fruit farmers Euan, Jack and Gillian Cameron of Pittormie Fruit Farm in Dairsie, and our Scottish lobster fisherman, Stuart Allen; the inspired charcuterie producer, James Swift in Wales; Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire; Richard Vine’s amazing micro-herbs; and Charlie Beldam and Lawrence Millet-Satow, who make fantastic, cold-pressed culinary rapeseed oil in the Cotswolds.
Thanks to all of them, and above all to the more than 4 million of you who viewed the series.
Your interest is the best sign of all that things are changing here in my adopted country. At last we seem to be reconnecting with our soil, with the culture part of our agriculture. As the names above show, it is now possible to buy some wonderful home-grown and –reared produce in this country.
It’s a virtuous circle. We, the consumers, demand better food. Maybe at first we show what we want by buying imported goods that are superior to what’s on offer locally - at the supermarket. But then word gets out, and somewhere in Britain a farmer thinks “I can grow/ produce/ rear that” and finds he can get a premium price for it, too. Then the commercial sector sees that the farmer is filling a niche, and wants a share of the profit to be had in trading in the product. Before long the foodstuff turns up in local markets – and the supermarkets want to get in on the act as well.
It’s a win-win game scheme – everybody profits, even the exchequer. Sure there are difficulties along the way – red tape, regulations, health and safety requirements, plus the people whose own jobs seem to depend on saying “no!” to any new idea or project.
But sometimes the market is not only a force for good, but also the force for making things better. This seems to be what is happening now in Britain. Hurrah.
And though tonight is the final episode of my British Kitchen Secrets, I can let you in on another secret, which is that I am returning to France. Without Adam. (I can hear our young women viewers boo-ing as I write.) But I am taking two young chefs with me on a road trip through my native land, in which they (and you?) will learn to cook some of the dishes that I learned at the knee of Maman Blanc. So please wish us bon appetit and bonne route!
And remember that Kitchen Secrets - published by Bloomsbury - is available to buy now (see below).
My very best to you all
PS Please tell me what you think of my blogs and my website: I want to hear from you!
Raymond Blanc's new book, Kitchen Secrets, featuring recipes from Kitchen Secrets Series 1 & 2 and many more, was published by Bloomsbury on 14 February and is available to buy online from Amazon, from Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Brasserie Blanc, Maison Blanc, and from online and retail bookstores.
Watch Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets on BBC2, Mondays at 8.30pm.
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