What an absolute honour it was to be there, in celebration of skills – and people – that often do not get the recognition they deserve.
We were served three glasses of wines in their relatively raw forms (a chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Meunier) all waiting for maturity. After tasting, we were instructed to mix all three to produce our own concoction and the blended drink actually tasted decent.
It felt like we made something out of nothing, and for a minute there we were all craftsmen too.
Next up was Will Ferraby who is one of the last of his kind. Ferraby Knives are extremely special, lovingly made with care and legacy.
The sharp test: Find a tomato, drop tomato, watch it get chopped. A case of now you see it, now you don’t, it was quite fascinating how the tomato literally bounced on a normal kitchen knife and how it perfectly went through the Ferraby knife. Very cool.
We were then served the first of the canapés: smoked salmon with sorrel. The fish itself was beautifully fresh and the sorrel gives it a balanced acidity.
We then met Ole Hansen of Hansen & Lydersen, the smoked salmon producers. Ole had a rather nostalgic story but he’s a funny music-loving chap who often sings to his salmon. If this is what makes the fish taste delicious, then I pray all fishmongers take vocal lessons.
Ole’s salmon was paired with the Balvenie Carribean Cask, a 14-year old whisky matured in American oak and finished in a rum cask. It was quite an easy and pleasurable whisky to drink, with notes of vanilla and honey (Michel likes this a lot, too).
Next up was Naine Woodrow, Master Potter at North Street Potters in Clapham. She talked about her training in Japan and her process in making her beautiful pottery (which seemed like a very, very, very hot feat!)
Sascha Grierson of Grierson farms presented us with a beautiful shin of cow. I can’t tell you enough how passionate Sascha was talking about their farm and how important it was for them to produce everything organic. It almost felt like listening to a homage to the beautiful animal which gives us such beautiful dishes.
We got to sample the organic Grierson farm fare – in three ways! First in tartare form which was melt-in-your-mouth delicious (and I may as well have eaten someone else’s portion… oops!) Supergrass-fed beef is definitely yummy in its raw state!
We were also served a consommé made with the beef broth and whisky. The beef was so tender and you can say it was of premium quality.
But the most beautiful of the savoury canapés was saved for last: cubes of beef served with an utterly creamy mash. This is my type of food, and this is my type of beef.
Last but not the least, Michel introduced us to The Balvenie’s Head Cooper. Ian McDonald has been making casks and barrels for a while now and he told us of tales how people used to steal stuff from distilleries. Essentially, they “dip a dog” (copper pipe that holds liquid) inside a barrel attached to their belts then easily slipping it out unnoticed.
What an incredible experience meeting these craftsmen in the flesh. They were all equally as good as their skills and products and their stories are just fantastic.
The films are released at https://www.youtube.com/TheCraftsmensDinner:
– 15th March 2016 (Ferraby Knives)
– 29th March (Grierson Organic)
– 12th April (North Street Potters)
– 26th April (Ridgeview Wines)
– 10th May (Hansen & Lyderson)
– 24th May (Craftsmen Dinner)
The shorts go live on a fortnightly basis, so mark your diaries and discover the beauty of craftsmanship. It’s emotional and absolutely fascinating.