The Faroes had recorded winds of over 100mph last week which we thought would put paid to us receiving our regular delivery of Var salmon, but the Faroese are experienced in dealing with these weather situations and with forward planning were able to satisfy our order. We were also pleased to read the piece in the Sunday Times Style magazine where Helena Puolakka of London’s Skylon restaurant described Var as ‘”simply the best farmed Salmon on the market and the closest you can get to wild.” We have been careful as to who and how we retail this fish as we do not want to devalue the brand. On the retail side we are currently supplying Ashtons in Cardiff and Robert Kewn at Roberts Fishmongers in Taunton. We now have a sizeable following of chefs in the London market who are using Var, including Michel Roux Jr who now uses the fresh and smoked Var as his farmed salmon of choice. Ole Hansen from London’s Hansen and Lydersen smokehouse is also a new convert to the outstanding quality of Var. Anyone who would like us to despatch a side as special treat for family, friends or customers then please give Paula or myself a ring in the office.
I cannot let this newsletter go without mentioning eels. Elizabeth has banned eels as topic of conversation in our house, even eel telephone conversations are frowned on. The good news is that we are expecting our first delivery of eels that will have attained the “sustainable eel standard” in the early part of next year. We will be the first and only smokery in the UK to have completed and satisfied the Sustainable Eel Group’s audit and certification. We are also hoping that the new presentation of scientific opinion, and enormous strides that have been taken in such a short space of time by all parties involved in eel fisheries, will result in The MCS reconsidering its much debated and dubious red listing. Our Tanks in Schools scheme is being expanded to 50 tanks this year, so if anyone has a school they would like to get involved then give me a call and we will do our best to get one to them. I am imagining that we will be ready to put elvers in tanks sometime in May. As is often the case with good news one needs to prepare oneself for the not so good and that is that eel prices are almost certainly set to rise quite significantly. We have seen an increase of over 15% in just the last 3-4 weeks and it is difficult to see what justification this is down to. So at the moment when you order any eel ask the office for confirmation of what price you are paying.
It’s been fairly quiet on the business front, which has given us a chance to get a bit ahead of ourselves so as we can cope with whatever the Christmas madness brings. It’s been over a week now and each day we say “Oh it will start tomorrow”. Well it hasn’t, and it would seem everyone is leaving it until the last minute to go buying, partying, celebrating and eating. The one thing that is happening though is London’s appetite for new restaurant openings. It is quite normal to try and get your restaurant up and running just before Christmas and just as The Wolseley did in November 2003. Now it’s the turn of its eagerly awaited sister restaurant The Delaunay which opens this week. I was lucky enough to get a guided tour around the restaurant and kitchens earlier this week. As with all things touched by Corbin and King one instantly realises that this has had their stardust sprinkled everywhere, I can’t wait to see the place full and working. Breakfast menu pretty much the same as The Wolseley, lunch and dinner menu has several different platters of crustacea, European brasserie classics, such as choucroute and Wiener schnitzel. It’s definitely going to be another must be seen at London casual hangout.
In the New Year with Jonathan Adams of Ashston’s in Cardiff, we shall be launching our new Welsh range of smoked products (Halltu Cymraeg). We are using some interesting Welsh products which will include larva bread, Penderyn whisky, Welsh apple mint which together with some wonderful Welsh fish, smoked over Welsh oak. We will be using mackerel and sea bass from West Wales, trout fillets from Presteigne, scallops from Cardigan Bay and MSC haddocks and herrings - and of course our Var salmon. Anyone interested in more information I have some leaflets in English and Welsh.
We had such a good time at Dartmouth Food Festival and thought we could have another crack at this food festival malarkey, so it looks like we are Exeter bound, for their food and music festival in April next year. I’m interested in hearing from anyone who has been to any of their previous festivals and I will be giving updates on what our menu offering will be in following newsletters.
Today two London chefs who have become synonymous with the restaurants that they worked at, Jeremy Lee. Blueprint Café and Tristan Welch, Launceston Place are leaving. Tristan’s wife is expecting another child and they have decided to swap London for a different pace of life in rural Sweden. Jeremy is moving to Quo Vadis in Soho as chef / partner with the Hart brothers after more than 15 years at the Blueprint Café. Best wishes to them both.
It’s still not too late if anybody wants us to organise delivery of hampers, sides of smoked salmon, cheeses - almost anything your heart desires, all can be arranged with Paula in the office. To all our customers and all those that have supported us, I and the staff at Severn & Wye would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and healthy New Year. I will have more news in 2012.