At the beginning of April there was dancing for joy in the streets of Gloucestershire, not because for the first time in Severn and Wye newsletter history we failed to send out our monthly missive, but we were able to announce officially that we had been awarded the contract to supply smoked salmon and other smoked fish to the Corporate Hospitality Village at London’s Olympic Stadium. We are very fortunate to have a dedicated workforce who should all feel very proud to have helped us gain this fiercely fought for contract.
We have recently returned from this year’s Exeter Food and Drink Festival where we had a bash at serving our take on BBQ street food together with our working mobile smoke houses. We also took a couple of tanks of elvers and eels to publicise and promote our Tanks in Schools scheme, an environmental and restocking project that will help us maintain a healthy adult wild population and also promote eating a “sustainable” farmed product. I think our endeavours were fairly successful in converting some people’s perception that BBQ’s are solely for sausages and pieces of chicken. A healthier and tastier option has to be fish. We barbecued smoked salmon escallops, smoked sardines, mackerel and eel which were all served with our savoury bubble and squeak. Lots of interest was shown in our £495 mobile smoke houses which we had constantly smoking for the whole 3 days. Dave and Clive did several fish filleting displays compered by Richard which certainly pulled the crowds in and I hope gave people the confidence to go away and have a bash at basic fish filleting (the general public is so frightened of experimenting with fish).
Clare Hargreaves wrote a nice piece about us in The Independent which coincided with “Restaurant Critics, Action Against Hunger” fundraising dinner at Hawksmoor Guildhall. We provided the starter of smoked eel which happened to be the first delivery of eel in the UK to have attained the “Sustainable Eel Standard”. We had lots of positive feedback from many of the people who attended the dinner, but it will not be until June that this product will be readily available in reasonable quantities.
The elver season is well under way and this will be the 3rd successive year that we have seen dramatic improvements in catch sizes. This is also our 3rd successive year of running the Tanks in School scheme. Year 1 we had tanks in just two local schools and the scheme has grown to 50 schools this year with locations as far away as Edinburgh, London and Dartmouth. Any chefs keen to help out on the restocking days do not hesitate to give me a call. We probably only have one more decent tide to go for the elver night fishing. so any chefs keen to enrol on Dai & Horace’s Fly Fishing Academy (neither of our instructors is qualified) now’s your chance. We have a nicely stocked bit of water with some rainbows or for the more proficient who can handle a salmon rod we have access to some water on the Wye. Good fun, even if we come away empty handed.
Here we are at the end of April and the rod and line fishermen of the Rivers Severn and Wye are recording catches of above average size fish. Hardly a day goes by at the moment without reports of another 20lb+ fish being caught. What is surprising is how unusual it is for fish of this size to be caught with water levels so low. With this recent decent downpour I would expect the fishing conditions to be perfect in the next 10 days (if the rain stops). The Severn Estuary’s commercial fishermen who don’t start fishing until the 1st June are being subjected to new limits on the number of fish each license can catch, but more of that in the next newsletter.
We shall be celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee, weather permitting, with a BBQ and outside dining at the smokery on the 5th June. We look forward to welcoming customers old and new and anyone who can play an instrument can sing for their lunch or refreshments - sorry triangles do not qualify.
More news soon.