Wednesday 15 February 2017

A little necessary British acidity

"It's Rupert!" called Belinda from the bottom of the stairs. Door slightly ajar, I pulled a face at her. I don't know any Ruperts. "It's about your vinegar order." She added walking upstairs and handing me the phone. So I stood, dripping wet in the bathroom, ex-shower, phone in my clammy hand, experiencing some fantastic customer service.

Rupert (Parsons) of Womersley Foods in the Cotswolds had seen the order I'd made the night before, clocked that I'm a supper club and called to inform me that I was due a discount. But as stopping and replacing my initial order was a faff, would it be OK if he just bundled in a few free bottles?

It was OK. 

If you want one question to establish if someone is a foodie or not (a predicament we've all found ourselves in surely?), it's probably "how excited are you by vinegar?" My answer would be: enough to stand naked in a freezing February bathroom, dripping wet.

Apologies for that image btw. Here's George Clooney.

All cleansed? Good.

Au revoir les Français
I've been looking to reduce my L'Olivier fruit vinegar reliance recently. They are fantastic vinegars but it's increasingly difficult to source the whole range. Also the bottles are small at 200ml so I can easily go through one in a month. Fruit vinegars are now critical in my kitchen; I rarely make a dressing without one.

After much web frustration with nasty, cheap 'flavoured' products, I found Wormersley nestled in a clutch of testimonials from chefs I respect. These are fruit vinegars worthy of the name. Unlike L'Olivier, they filter off the pulp resulting in a clear liquid but with no less flavour. In fact... maybe more. They come in 250ml bottles and are better value. They also do larger trade sizes for restaurants. 

You'll notice the bottles in the top picture all have torn seals. That's because I stood with my family, spoons in hand, tasting each one straight out of the packing foam. And they are very, very good. A deliciously different quality of acidity to the French but no less usable. The fruit flavours are clean, intense, distinct and very natural. The Raspberry and chilli, Blackberry and Orange & Mace are set to become go-to bottles, I'm sure. My only issue is where to keep them. I have at least 30 existing bottles of vinegar. My well used ones are pictured below.

Why do I care so much about about acidity? Because it's been my great discovery since starting the supper club. It's the child who sat in the corner, head down, uninterested; who suddenly lifted up her chin, opened her mouth and filled the room with a high, perfect soprano. Acid makes your dishes sing.

Or as I read recently (but have lost the link - probably Serious Eats): that 'something' your food is missing is probably lemon juice - or a fruit vinegar.