Do The Dab - with a side of fresh Jerusalem artichokes grown on the island!
When we talk about local, seasonal and sustainable as being at the heart of our ethos, we really mean it.
Local, seasonal and sustainable.
This is our ethos and our mantra here at the Sail Loft restaurant - but what does it really mean?
Eating local stems from a number of considerations, including cost, quality, and environmental impacts. When we buy foods, particularly produce grown in Africa and Mexico, or even Europe, those foods are harvested before they’re ripe and packed into shipping containers destined for our shores. In some cases, the produce is sprayed with ripening agents to ensure it reaches its “peak” by the time it makes it onto the store shelves. The need to transport produce long distances impacts the cost, compromises quality – have you tasted a tomato from Mexico in the middle of winter? It’s like eating a cotton ball. Last but certainly not least, it’s impossible to deny the significant negative environmental impacts of shipping food around the world.
Here at the Sail Loft, it’s important for us to have the freshest produce possible as everything is so stripped back. We cook simple but beautiful food, made so due to some of the produce we use - whether it’s mackerel caught in the bay or black kale grown two miles away. With simple cooking there’s nowhere to hide, the quality of the produce needs to be excellent or it all falls apart, at least in my mind. This is why our experiments into the Kitchen Garden here on the mount have been important.
This season, our Kitchen Garden has delivered us beautiful annual and biannual herbs. This year as an experiment we decided to grow a few vegetable crops to see how they might get on in such a brutal environment, with strong winds and salt water in the air. We decided on fine beans, chard and Jerusalem artichokes. The beans were eaten straight away, the Swiss chard grew well and was continuously harvested in late summer, but the jewel in this year's crown were the chokes! More care and attention was possibly needed, but we have a mighty fine crop. As I write this we had pulled them from the bathtub deep beds, sufficiently cleaned and a dish conceived all within two days. Now that is fresh, and with freshness comes peak nutrient density - flavour!
We have pureed the artichokes and paired it with bacon and hazelnuts to garnish the much-underrated flatfish...Dab. Jerusalem artichokes are bang in season, easy to prepare and delicious. But, more than the flavour, the dish, the very nature of this experiment, says something about us. We want what’s best for the diner but also the ground we live on. The more you dig, the more you realise these two endeavours cannot be separated.
Gregory Milne, Head Chef on St Michael's Mount