Abergavenny we're coming and we're smoking

The end of the Paralympics is just a few days away so quite a good time to reflect on how the Olympics affected us all. For us it was bit of a non-event as far as business was concerned. The few hot spots in the capital were more than offset by the tales of woe from other disgruntled operators. The transport networks in London that were supposed to break down under the strain and the traffic gridlocks that were feared would clog London’s streets didn’t materialise either. In fact if you wanted to spend a few leisurely days in the capital this could not have been a better time. Once the children are back at school I’m sure normal service will resume but for some who hung on for the riches that they thought the Olympics would bring this has surely meant a reality check and a reappraisal of their business plan - there will be casualties.

This has not dampened the appetite of restaurant openings. We’ve had Duck's and waffles, Sushi and Samba, hotdawgs and bubbly, the affordable but big French cafe experience that is Brasserie Zédel operated by Chris Corbin and Jeremy King. These two will soon be sprinkling their stardust again when they open Colbert on the old Oriel site on Sloane Square in a couple of week’s time. It’s their first foray out of the West End but I’m sure they will soon become the darlings of the Chelsea set with their new exciting cafe formula, we wish them well.

In my last newsletter I had a rant about the Environment Agency intransigence towards granting us permission to restock eels in the upper reaches of the Thames. I would love to report that they had had a rethink about their decision and realised that promoting our Tanks in Schools scheme had some merit, but unfortunately no. The politics of dealing with different branches of the EA is more than we can bear so it’s on to our next big release on the 14th September at Llangorse Lake. It will be a celebration to mark the end of all this year’s school releases and we shall be doing the release with the boys of Monmouth School. As 20,000 eels is quite a big release we shall use several boats so as to cover various points on the lake. Afterwards we are planning a lakeside BBQ when an open invitation to attend will be extended to all those that have made the project such a success; chefs, customers, teachers, press and all those associated with the Sustainable Eel Group.

This weekend I made the dreadful discovery (well it was to me anyway) that potato blight had struck in the greenhouse. This was a double blow as this year I had planted all my tomatoes late and had only just started cropping. It just makes you realise what the trials and tribulations of being a real farmer can mean. This year the wet weather has meant that very few farmers have made any hay at all and acres of potato crops have been ruined.

As they say;

A load of hay made in May is worth a king’s ransom
A load of hay made in June is worth a silver spoon and
A load of hay made in July isn’t worth a fly

The Abergavenny Food festival on the 15th and 16th September means we are packing up our mobile smoke houses BBQ equipment, eels and eel tanks and bringing our version of smokey street food to the streets of Abergavenny. Chef Tania is working on her menus, Mark our bubble and squeak chef and resident poet is conducting all our equipment checks while the rest of our gang are looking forward with excitement to what Abergavenny has to offer. It will be our first time exhibiting at Abergavenny but we know the quality and provenance of the show has made this a calendar favourite not only for the public interested in sourcing good produce but presenters, restaurateurs, chefs and food writers and we look forward to making new acquaintances and meeting friends and customers old and new. So if you at the show, please come and make yourself known to us.