I woke up this morning (as usual, these days, on a Friday) to find a delivery of fresh, organic food on my kitchen table – boxes tied with string full of things like bunched purple carrots, golden beetroot, freshly caught rainbow trout, wild samphire grass, dates, line-caught tuna and a whole selection of interesting looking courgettes. They’d been delivered, even before I got up for breakfast, by a chap called Paval on behalf of Abel & Cole. Its about two months now since we decided to “go organic” and source our food this way and, as you can tell, I’m completely loving it!
As we buy “boxes” of vegetables and fruit, we never know exactly what we’re getting until it arrives (OK, you can check online but I tend not to – spoils the surprise); what you can be sure of is that its all locally produced, in season and hugely varied, often including veg you’ve never seen before in your life – and that is the part that really appeals to me. My mind gets to work as soon as I’m unwrapping the food and squeezing it into the fridge, conjuring up how I’m going to use this or that together to concoct a meal; its a bit like painting really, combining flavours like you would colours and experimenting, relying on instinct (I’ve never been one for recipes). For instance, tonight we enjoyed oven baked trout in butter with ground pistachios with a side order of sliced, pan friend new potatoes and fennel to which I added the pistachio butter from the trout, at the last minute, with a sprinkling of wild samphire grass (otherwise known as sea asparagus – delicious, crunchy-salty tendrils of green that go brilliantly with seafood) and all served with big fleshy portobello mushrooms oven baked with garlic. Followed by summer pudding and farm-fresh pouring cream and with a decent bottle of wine. Yum!
And, apart from the sheer adventure, that’s one of the things I really love about sourcing food in this way – it tastes so blimmin’ good, the flavours wake you up and make you realise that, apart from the occasional trip out to a particularly fine restaurant, your taste buds have been asleep for years; now, everything tastes this good, every mouthful of every meal and all the abundant fruit that now over-fills the fruit basket is an absolute joy, its heavenly and is how all food should be (and would be without the intensive farming, the pesticides, the mass production, long-distance transportation and packaging)!
Abel & Cole are just one of a handful of entities “out there” doing this now; we happen to like them the best out of those we’ve sampled, for a variety of reasons. There’s also been a renaissance in buying straight-from-the-farm over the past few years, with farm shops springing up all over the place, as well as more and more organic food shops (a new one – Organically Speaking – has just opened near us and its got some of the really hard-to-find bits of food covered, as well as doing a delivery service). I, for one, haven’t wheeled a full-to-bursting trolley around a supermarket in ages and – just to dissolve one of the most prevalent myths out there, I haven’t found that I’m spending any more than I used to when I did, in fact I feel like I’m stretching the food far, far further (fruit and veg certainly lasts much longer), enjoying it much more and have completely ditched that slightly guilty-anxious feeling (“what am I doing to myself/what am I doing to the environment”) that was always there when I tipped most of my food out of so much packaging!