Kippers Get The X Factor

Hi All

It seems only yesterday that I sent out my last Musings from the River Bank but news is building and I need to get it out to you.

The Environment Agency has issued a 6-month ban on eel fishing, starting 1st October. As opponents to wild eel fishing and members of the Sustainable Eel Campaign we support any action that gives the adult eel a chance to mature and migrate. What effect will this ban have? Well, I suspect that contraction of supply will eventually result in a price increase. So this is your chance to get this versatile and tasty (in fact my favourite smoked fish on the menu) before price increases filter through. Remember you heard it here first.

I would like to thank Tabasco for their generous support in spicing up our seafood counter in the Moet lounge at The Ryder Cup which teed off last week. Tabasco and smoked oysters - ah - a marriage made in Wales (or did I mean Heaven? I often get the two confused).

"Scottish salmon please" - that was the popular request. Surely they know how to do it properly; they've been doing it for years! To us at least this is not the case. 'Scottish salmon' (farmed or organic) that is of a consistent quality, has provenance, traceability and control over its supply is becoming more and more difficult to find. The popularity of salmon and the quest for a cheap fish means standards are slipping and 'Scottish salmon' is losing its cachet. Richard has for some time been looking for a salmon farm making a superior product and prepared to work solely alongside us to produce an even better product. It has taken a while but we think we have found it.

'LOCH VAR' isn't any old fish, it's a Faroe fish that until now has been produced solely for the sushi market in the US and Japan. The three brothers who own the farm are the pioneers of the salmon fish farming that started in the Faroes in the early 1970's. They believe that by having complete control of the process from salmon egg to the final harvesting of the fish gives them a chance to produce an unrivalled product.

These boys believe in extreme farming. Their philosophy is that by replicating the conditions found in the wild you can produce the nearest possible thing to wild fish. From the moment the fish hatch they are made to swim against a current. As the fish mature they progress to stronger water. The Faroes location means that the farm is only 15 miles from where the wild Atlantic salmon winter. Dark, short winter days and light, long summer days, 5-6 metre swells and waves take fish farming to the edge of what's possible.

Richard spent over a week at the farm and was so impressed that on his return it's been all go. Audits, costsand product testings. You hope this isn't going to be a limoncello moment. Back from your Umbrian holiday with a souvenir bottle of the liqueur... and it's immediately apparent that limoncello and Gloucestershire were not meant to share this or any other day. Cautiously we sent out samples of fresh and smoked Loch Var Salmon to some of our customers for comments. "Cannot remember when I last saw a farmed salmon of that quality" wasone and the comments on the smoked fish were also very encouraging. Most have immediately started ordering Loch Var which we are offering as a smoked or fresh product, whole fish or fillets. Anyone who would like samples or prices do not hesitate to give me a call.

At the end of last month it was reported that kippers have the X-Factor. Cheryl Cole's recovery from an attack of malaria in the summer was put down to her mother's insistence on a diet of kippers. We await the effect that this phenomenal expose will have on kipper and herring sales.

That's all for this month but anyone fancying a weekend away - don't forget the Falmouth Oyster Festival 14th-17th October and the Dartmouth Food Festival 22nd-24th October.

More Tales from the Riverbank soon.

Regards, Dai Francis