The Future of Food: thinking about sustainability

How much do you think about the future when picking out your next meal? Sustainability is a hot topic at the moment (rightly so – as we try to make some headway into fixing some of the mistakes of the past and the impact we have had on this planet) but how much does it fit into your daily routine?

It can be quite overwhelming understanding how we can individually make a difference. I am however trying to make it more of a focus. It’s started with some small changes. I buy secondhand clothes where possible. Admittedly I used to be a real ASOS addict, but for the last couple of years I have been converted by the thrill of finding a new unique piece at a vintage kilo sale or charity shop AND it’s always much cheaper! I have started reusing and refilling more. I am fortunate enough to live in the cute little community of Totterdown where there are several options to refill my washing liquid/soap etc. Just gotta be that little bit more prepared. My eating habits need some work though – I am very much still driven by my cravings or convenience.

Ever since attending the Future Food Banquet – just one of the incredible Bristol Food Connections events of the Summer – the cogs have been turning on how I need to adopt some new habits. Asking the question: “What does a sustainable plate of food look like!?” we listened to an incredible expert panel led by Shiela Dillon (one of my food journalist heroes). We were then treated to an epic feast from some of the top Bristol chefs, with each course representing one of the key manifesto points of the Chef’s Manifesto, – a chef-led network exploring how they can deliver a sustainable food system.

“The best combination of theory ….& then that theoretical sustainability served on your plate.” Sheila Dillon (commenting on my instagram post – EEK!)

These thoughts sprung back to the forefront of my mind this week, when I was absolutely bowled over by the most incredible meal at Poco Bristol. Their “Wild & Foraged” event delivered a menu that celebrated the bounty of our hedgerows, woodlands and fields and sought to teach (or remind experienced foragers) of the joy to be found in seeking out all these wonders! Main dishes centred around wild game, perhaps the most sustainable way to eat meat. Their passion and excitement for the food they had foraged and the exciting dishes they had created with them was completely infectious.

The evening began with a foraged aperitif of Beach Leaf Noyau and Poco house tonic whilst we were introduced to the ingredients gathered for the meal.

A welcome aperitif

Bold flavours were delivered in the first course of Forest Floor Consomme served in teapots and poured over the dish of little mushroom treasures Intense of Bay Bolete, Deceivers, Wood Sorrel and Mushroom Powder.

A Forest Consomme with teapot in the background

The thinnest slices of the beautiful Venison Carpaccio was paired with Wild Horseradish Mayonnaise, Mushroom Ketchup, Pickled Quince, Plantain Leaf and Wild Rocket.

Venison carpaccio - photo taken from above showing rustic table

Beautifully cooked Forest of Dean Wild Boar sat on a plate with Sweet Chestnut, Hasselback Hereford Russet apple and Pickled Blackberries. A perfect balance of sweet and tart.

Wild Boar with russet apple. Blackberry vermouth shown in background

Mushrooms continued to be celebrated in the final savoury dish: Chanterelle and Confit Mallard Leg. A rather stunning dish of Smoked Hen’s Yolk, Alexanders, Rosemary Foccacia, Rosemary Flowers – served with the most delicious Blackberry Vermouth.

Mallard

The final spectacle was the most scrumptious Acorn mousse. One of the most inventive and delicious desserts I have had in a LONG time! Served with Mallard Caramel (they used the fat from the previous dish rather than butter), Cobnut Tuille and Chestnut Snow. We rounded up the meal sipping on acorn iced tea – the result of processing the acorns for the mousse. No waste here!

Acorn mousse

Still more research to do! Interested to hear what changes other people are making.  Any handy hints and tips?

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