Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Low-Carbon Christmas; Cutting out the Long-Distance Ingredients: Chef Oliver Rowe Has Been Encouraging Us to Source Local and Fresh Produce, as Much as Possible

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Low-Carbon Christmas; Cutting out the Long-Distance Ingredients: Chef Oliver Rowe Has Been Encouraging Us to Source Local and Fresh Produce, as Much as Possible

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK CURTIS

OLIVER ROWE'S CHRISTMAS FOOD GUIDE

Christmas WHEN Oliver Rowe opened his restaurant Konstam in 2006, in the formerPrince Albert pub in King's Cross, he tested the idea that we should eat local,seasonal food. The 34-year-old Londoner sourced as much fresh produce aspossible within a circle bounded by Amersham, the most distant point on theTube. He found flour in Dartmouth, meat from Sevenoaks, honey in Tower Hill,wine in Surrey. "But I can't cook without lemons," he says, "so certain thingslike that [and coffee, oranges, pepper, spices] have to be imported." It'sbetter, Rowe suggests, to stick if you can to the spirit of seasonality than behardline about it. He's approaching the Rowe family Christmas dinner the sameway.

It's a philosophy that sounds puritanical and hard to follow. Only the greenestshopper would stick to his rules, but this approach make sense. It avoids thenightmare trip to the supermarket and most delivery slots from companies suchas Ocado have been full for weeks. Instead Rowe suggests you visit the bestlocal butchers, delis and markets. You'll find the process more relaxing, saysRowe, and a whole lot more enjoyable.

Although Rowe started out cooking Spanish food at Moro, and serves the cuisineof his northern European, Jewish forebears at Konstam, Christmas is the onetime he likes to prepare typically English dishes. "Turkey is a fairly recentimport from America, and traditionally the Christmas bird was a goose, or forsmaller gatherings a duck," he says, "and for vegetables it's always been aboutcooking what's available: swede, cabbage, potato, sprouts." Duck is quicker,needing a quick burst in a hot oven to crisp the pricked and salted skin, thenanother 45 minutes on low heat to cook the flesh. Goose needs slower cooking,with lashings of bacon on top of it ("I'm a terrible Jew") to stop it dryingout. Both provide a fuller flavour than turkey. Any decent local butcher shouldbe able to provide a British bird, he says. …

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