Friday, 27 December 2013

New Year's Cotechino, and the Next Step (unedited) - South Shropshire Journal 27/12/13

Golly, only four days left of 2013. That went quick. 361 days gone, just like that and what have I to show for it? Forty-odd columns for this paper, and a whole lot fuddling and muddling around.

Now I have children I don’t mind New Year’s Eve at all. No point trying to get a babysitter. There’s no pressure on going out to have fun when you can stay at home and unapologetically go to bed at ten o’ clock.

I like what the Italians do on New Year’s Eve: cotechino sausages and lentils. The lentils symbolise coins and good fortune. It’s a cracking dish too, but decent Italian sausages are hard to come by round these parts. In London it’s easy, just visit Jacob Kennedy’s howlingly wonderful Bocca di Lupo in Soho for the real deal. In Shropshire, John Brereton at Ludlow Food Centre does a fine Italian style sausage. Coarse pig, robust with fennel and garlic. The pig in an Italian sausage must be lumpy. Cook them nice and slow and the fatty and meaty all get melty and sticky.

I’m not going to be at the Ludlow Food Centre for much longer, so I’ll miss my staff discount on John’s Italian sausages. In 2014 I’m going to go it alone (with a little help from my friends). Spread my wings and fly not very far from here and hopefully spread a bit of my own foodie joy too. I’ll keep you posted, if my editor allows it.

I’m not savvy or cool enough to make any big predictions as to what the big food-fads of next year will be. In the southern metropolises dirty burgers have stayed steady, Peruvian’s been on the up and Seoul food is apparently the latest street sensation. As long as Mary Berry keeps going we’ll all be baking. 2013 has been the year of horsemeat, kids getting fatter (a trend that simply must end), and one in which Nigella’s famous ham cooked in Coke took on a completely new meaning. Bless her.

In Ludlow and the surrounding area there are some big things a-happening and the gastro rumour mill has never been grinding harder. Chefs leaving, places closing, chefs arriving, new joints opening up. 2014 round these parts at least, is going to be an exciting one.

I don’t know if I've bought you anything particularly novel, edgy or tasty since March, but thank you for going with it and reading my weekly whiffle. I've had some truly humbling feedback from doing this, some that makes me hoot, and some that makes me seethe with vitriol. It’s all good. So from me to you, a very happy end of 2013. I’ll see you on the other side.

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