And… breathe! Tomorrow is d-day for our Covent Garden Market Stall, sharing with you Londoners the wonder that is Bisol prosecco and Frank Hederman smoked salmon. Both are fantastic products and we’ll be selling them at really fair prices, so that you can try them and judge for yourself. I’ll be making cucumber pickle into the wee hours after work tonight and up at 5am tomorrow baking soda bread (and maybe soda scones?). On Frank’s recommendation I will also be serving the salmon with red onion and capers as they are a good match.
Setting up this stall has been no small feat but it has been a great experience. I loved calling around to Frank’s smokery in Belvelly, Cork. If he could bottle that smell he could retire. Such an interesting man too, a true artisan with loads of information to share. My mother proclaimed en route that she wouldn’t be eating smoked salmon as she couldn’t bear it, yet when Frank offered, and she reticently accepted (based on the smell alone), I caught her sneaking seconds when she got an opportunity. After dropping me at the airport she went home happily with her own packet of smoked salmon, stopping on the way for soda bread, which she gifted to my sister who was very happy indeed.
In Frank’s own words (from the Irish Independent):
How do I know it’s done? Well, this is what I do: I feel the fish through my fingers — imagine the inside of a salmon, the upper front. I put my thumb on the orange bit at the front and feel it at the back, at the skinniest part. I move my finger and go, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ It’s an instinct thing. There’s no law to these things. So when the fish is ready, the fish is ready, and when it’s not ready, it ain’t. You leave it until it is ready.
One journalist very kindly said that saying Frank Hederman smokes fish is a bit like saying Mr Steinway makes pianos.
We use beechwood chips, which we have specifically made for us in the UK. The size of the chip dictates the temperature at which it burns, which then, in turn, gives you the smoke that you desire. I suppose you could say that it’s bespoke timber. The curing process is the salting. We’re not Indians in pioneering America and we’re not trying to feed families for the winter. We add flavour, like Lea & Perrins or Colman’s do. When I was starting out, one very clever man told me: “Do not, under any circumstances, smoke volumes of anything. Smoke high value, low volume.” So we did that and it makes a lot of sense.
From the very beginning, we’ve been a low-volume producer, but a very high-quality one, and we have stuck to that rigidly. The Irish market is actually a very small part of what we do. The bulk of it goes to London. We supply all of Selfridges, we do the food halls, the Wonder Bar, the Oyster Bar and all the big restaurants, such as Richard Corrigan’s. We did the Queen’s birthday two years ago.
As for the prosecco, I’ve met Roberto from Bisol before, he’s a real character with a fantastic joie de vivre and lots of knowledge on his favourite topic – prosecco. Some tasting notes from him:
The wine is a straw yellow with a fine, bubbly mousse. On the nose it is fresh as a Spring morning, with hints of rich fruit and wild flowers. Taste it and you’ll experience an explosion of apples and pears. It’s round, generous and will leave you wanting more.
He’s going to join his tomorrow, so do come along, and join in the fun!
It’s rare to get an opportunity to taste and indulge these lovely products in an informal setting and we’re delighted to offer it.
I am off to work for the day now, I suspect a high coffee intake lies ahead once I get home and get cracking on this enormous to do list!
So, see you tomorrow I hope!
Where: Covent Garden
When: 6 August from 12 noon to 8pm
Price: Bisol Prosecco at £3 per glass. Open sandwich of Frank Hederman Smoked Salmon on homemade soda bread £3.50.
An absolute steal, I am sure you will agree!
You can read my partner in crime, Denise’s details here. She has also got a video interview with Roberto from Bisol which you should definitely check out. Thanks, Denise!