food, News and Trends, Recipes, Uncategorized

Corner Post Q&A

Adam Robinson, chef-patron of the Corner Post Restaurant and Bar in Howick is an advocate of following a green ethos in his kitchen. Trained in the UK and France with many years’ experience as a top restaurateur and chef in London, he has created a noteworthy dining experience in a small midlands town. One of the Top 100 Restaurants in South Africa in 2011, the Corner Post is dedicated to excellent cuisine and a welcoming atmosphere. The restaurant has two sections – a relaxed pub which serves traditional English pub fare and the restaurant with its more elaborate fare. The pub and formal dining room are supplemented by a delightfully sunny courtyard and garden in which both menus are served. We asked Adam for some tips for going green in the kitchen... Adam, tell us a bit more about the green ethos you follow at the Corner Post? We serve good food which is sourced locally, which is healthy and, obviously, delicious. There is also a sense of being part of a community as I buy much of my produce from local farmers who I know by name. The French concept of ‘terroir’ is much more than simply the land from which food is produced. It encompasses the whole community which works together to produce, distribute, prepare and eat food and this is a good way to describe the Midlands community to which the Corner Post belongs. So, would you say that buying directly from a producer is the best way to shop? Certainly I would suggest that you get as close to the farm gate as possible which is obviously easier to do out here in the countryside than in the city. There are, however, many food markets in cities now which bring farm-fresh produce to you. Also, if you spend a day out near farms, buy meat and freeze it or stock up on hard cheeses which will last several weeks. Buying straight from the producer means that it will be fresher, which enhances the flavour. This is probably not as easy as you move out of the countryside but many cities have regular food markets now which have given local farmers a platform to sell their produce directly to consumers. Is buying local always ‘lekker’? Yes, as far as the local produce is of a high quality but we are very lucky in South Africa that this is mostly the case. It is worth noting that ‘local’ is where the produce can best be grown as near to you as possible. For example, local olive oil is from the Cape at the closest in South Africa. Are you an advocate of growing your own herbs and veggies at home? Yes, definitely, although it is worth remembering that some vegetables are more difficult to grow than others! Root vegetables are easy to grow, as are salads and herbs. I grow almost all the herbs and salads that we use in the restaurant’s kitchen in my little home veggie patch. That’s 20 to 30 heads of lettuce a week. What other things can we do in our own kitchens to be a little more ‘green’? Buying seasonal is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you are not buying imported produce. For example, if you buy strawberries in June, you can be sure that they have either been flown in or grown in artificial conditions which will affect their flavour. What if a recipe calls for a strawberry in June, though? Any recipe is a guideline; not a chemical formula. Experiment a bit. Use another sort of fruit which is in season. What about using a preserve? Preserves are a good alternative as they are generally produced using the glut of seasonal fruit. The best preserve to use would be one you’ve made yourself... have you ever made a preserve in your life though? Hmm... and can you buy good preserves if you missed out on this years’ glut? Most farm stalls stock them but if you want to be really eco-conscious, you will remember how much sugar goes into jams and preserves and consider that sugar is one of the most controversial ingredients in green circles. There really is a lot to think about! It must be very tricky to have all of this in mind when shopping and cooking. Well, the thing is to educate your palette about what good food is. That helps you to get an immediate, real sense of whether the produce you are using is fresh and healthy. How many people really know what a really good piece of fresh fish tastes like, or a high quality cheese? It’s possible that we’ve become so used to eating processed food packed with preservatives that we don’t know what it something should taste like. That’s the beauty of getting to know the people who produce the cheese you eat or the farmers who raise the cattle that provide your milk: you get to know how they farm and can, therefore, be sure that the food you are using in your kitchen is going to taste wonderful. That makes perfect sense. Thank you for sharing these ideas. I will certainly be more aware of what I buy and where it comes from! For more information or to chat with Adam, you can visit cornerpost.co.za or call 033-330-7636. Interviewed by Candice Botha