A new season should bring joy to any chef. Dave Coulson loves to get his kitchen team foraging for supper. And green shoots are closer than you might think.
Inner city Newcastle is abundant in hedgerow goodness if you know where to look. And they do.
We meet up with Dave and P&L team in a kitchen that’s alive with the aromas of spring-fresh wild garlic.
This stuff grows anywhere that is a bit dark and damp – so if you’ve got an overgrown corner of a wild garden then take a deep breath and chances are you’ll catch a few sprigs of the stuff wafting on the breeze!
One of the best ways to make use of wild garlic and give some lasting power in the larder is to make up a batch of wild garlic oil. It looks a brilliant, bold and zingy green, and just a few drops or a drizzle brings a plate to life.
Easy does it
Take a big bunch of wild garlic (40 leaves) and pop them in a blender – blend for fives minutes and you’ll get an intense green colour. Then add 200 ml of oil to the blender and keep it going for ‘as long as you’ve got’ says Dave.
The resulting punchy oil will keep for a year.
You can also freeze the wild garlic leaves, once blanched, like spinach and keep them in ice-cube trays so they make an easy addition to dishes all year long.
Five minutes chat with Dave Coulson:
I’ve got a little boy now… so a lie-in is a thing of the past. Sunday mornings we’re up and out to the Quayside market in Newcastle where there are some great food stalls – current fave being the the little van selling Thai food- the pad thai is brilliant.
I’m grafting in the restaurant 52 weeks a year. Even when I go away I like to think I’m learning something about food. The last place I visited was Forest Side in the Lake District and we took Thomas with us.
We’ve bought a house in Low Fell and I’m getting to know the area. There’s a great little place called the Urban Bakery which we love – great sourdough!
I was excited to see a food market popping up in Low Fell. Kells Lane Food Market is organised by the organisers of The Staiths Food Market. It’s on the first Saturday of every month – well worth a visit. The pick of region’s food producers. It’s at Kells Lane Primary School.
At Peace & Loaf we have a great relationship with some local growers, Hamish and Vanessa who manage to sow more than 100 different edibles on their allotment in Heaton. Diners have them to thanks for the geranium ice-cream on the menu. They’ve perfected the art of growing and are happy to be paid with a meal at P&L a few times a year!
Another local favourite of ours is Beat Boutique Bakery – best croissants I have tasted in my life. Grab one with a coffee at BLK Coffee in Heaton. Pretty much the perfect combo.
A meal of chicken katsu at Aveika is something I love – and I will always stop for food at Riley’s Fish Shack. I’ll always go back to Staith House in North Shields where my Masterchef
Being a chef isn’t about being able to magic up new ingredients – it’s about getting into the swing of the seasons, knowing what is going to be good to eat and when. It has taken me years and years to understand what is happening with food – and it is a constant challenge.
A chef cooks in a bubble – by which I mean you work your ass of and do your own thing. The other day I did eight different things with artichoke for one dish!
People still come to Peace&Loaf for the ‘chicken pie’ I did on Masterchef for the final. We sell loads, and I’m still glad we do.