Monday, 9 June 2014

Week beginning June 9th - What to do in a blackout? Go foraging in Regents Park

Last week at Kaffeine we were given 3 days notice that on Friday the power was going to be cut off on our side of the street for 2 hours anywhere between the hours of 8am and 1pm for street maintenance work. In the past this usually means that the power is going off at midday and will stay off for the next 3-4 hours. To try and cover ourselves for the unpredictable darkness (Kaffeine’s kitchen has no natural lighting) I arrived to work 45 minutes earlier to get extra prep done to cover food supply during the mini doom that was looming upon us. Thankfully everyone that works in the kitchen at Kaffeine is like a dream team, after almost 5 years we’re very much finely tuned and organized. So when the lights went out at a very punctual 8:05am I was surprised. Thankfully we were well and truly ahead with our schedule for the day and prepared for the on time slot of 8am blackout. 

There is a small green battery powered light that comes on in the kitchen when the power is off which is enough to see your way out and up to ground level. This is not the ideal lighting to carry on prepping, also its best to keep the fridge doors closed as the precious cool insulation will only last a few hours when kept closed. The problem now is what to do with 2 hours while street maintenance is in progress? Instead of bunking off and heading to our nearest rival for coffee and breakfast I decided to take the 2 other kitchen staff on a foraging expedition through Regents Park. We use a lot of foraged ingredients in Kaffeine which is mostly supplied through Miles Irvings company Forager, however the odd bit is also hand picked by myself, a hobby I’ve become quite passionate about in the last 2 years. So off Khan, Win and I set with our brown paper bags and scissors, a bit like Winnie the Pooh and his gang on a honey robbery. 

I’d taken Khan through Regents Park once before and for Win it was a new part of London he hadn’t explored yet (both are originally from Burma). The best part of our walk was the several occasions Khan and Win recognized 5 or so foraged ingredients we’ve used in the past, ingredients that they have only ever been seen in a bag or punnet. The ability to spot something edible in the outdoors is in my opinion a lost and dying skill that is in desperate need of a horticultural revival. 

As Win is one of Kaffeine’s newer additions, Khan and I encouraged him to try some new seasonal produce that I haven’t had on the menu since his arrival. We found black mustard, which has quite a strong bitter taste at first which then mellows off into a garlic and horseradish flavour. There was also a pea shoot flower, which are blue and taste of peas minus the sweetness. More commonly I got Win to sample ribwort plantain, which is related to bananas, after a few chews of the buds you get a definite mushroom flavour. 

The main thing we were foraging for was elderflower for our apricot friands, we found several bushes with small clusters of blossom which Khan and Win identified easily before I did. Surprisingly they also spotted Oregon grapes, which look like elongated blueberries. I had these little berries on the menu a few weeks ago in a duck salad. Oregon berries are best cooked in sugar and lemon then pasted through a sieve to remove the fine stones. Khan and Win recognized the berry from our forager supply we received a few weeks back and easily identified its cluster and holy like leaves. We picked a good amount to last us through this week, and you'll find the Oregon grape syrup has been caramelised in onions and served in a brioche bun with herb chicken, cheese pâté and gem lettuce.

Another unpredictable thing that happened that morning was the power came back on an hour and 15minutes after it was cut off, not a whole 2 hours or more as predicted. 

So this week we have a few foraged items from our local, amazing Regents Park on the menu. We hope you enjoy it, as we will enjoy bringing it to you.

Jared Bryant
Lead Chef

Traditional bircher muesli with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60 (V)
Granola muesli with pomegranate molasses and rhubarb and raspberry compote 3.60 (V)
Fruit salad (pineapple, mango, strawberries, grapes, passion fruit) 3.70 (GF, V)
Ciabatta roll with omelette, pancetta, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Ciabatta roll with courgette omelette, rocket and tomato salsa 4.90
Croissant with Italian roast ham, talleggio cheese, spinach & plum tomatoes 4.90
Seven seed bakery bloomer toast with home made preserves 1.90
Pumpkin seed and apricot fruit toast 2.40
Banana bread 2.40

Pastries by Seven Seed bakery
French butter croissant 1.90
Pain au chocolat 2.50
Almond croissant 2.80

Baked Treats
Sweet muffin: Apricot and orange (V) 2.40
Savoury Scone: Sweet chilli and cream cheese (V) 2.40
Friand: Apricot and Regents Park Elderflower (V, GF) 2.40
Super moist chocolate brownies 2.40
White chocolate blondies 2.40
Portuguese tarts 2.00
ANZAC cookies 2.00
Melting moments biscuits 2.00
Canele 2.40

French retro baguettes 5.00
Ham, gherkin, Dijon, red onion, Gruyère and spinach.
Heritage tomatoes, avocado, pesto, mozzarella and rocket (V)

Foccacias 5.30
Smoked salmon, dill, capers, aioli, red onion and spinach
Sauté mushroom and leeks, mustard fondue and rocket.(V)

Salads: 5.50/6.90
Pancetta with roasted beetroot, blanched hogweed stems, soft boiled egg, wild fennel leaf and lemon butter dressing (GF)
Wild watercress stems, Wensleydale, sea kale peas, poppy petals and a orange dressing (V, GF)
Cucumber, red onion, poppy seeds, parsley, mint, pomegranate dressing (V, GF, Raw)

Tart: 5.50 or 7.90 with salad
Toasted brioche with grilled herb chicken, cheese pate, gem lettuce, caramelized onion

Weekend Menu:
Salads: 5.50/6.90
Tuna steak with green beans, boiled eggs, new potatoes, red onion, olives, parmesan and baby spinach
Roasted squash with hazelnuts and watercress (V)
Mixed watermelon with almond, red onion, basil, smoked mozzarella, pommery mustard dressing (V) (VG)

Tart: 5.50 or 7.90 with salad
Spinach with eggs, new potatoes and hollandaise sauce

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