The Bridport Food Festival boasts a packed calendar of events a week long, culminating in the grand finale, with producers’ marquee, cookery theatre and the Round Table Beer Festival at Askers Meadows. Now in its 11th year and with 3000 visitors annually, the event is a veritable who’s who of local food artistry.
The producers’ marquee provided ample opportunity to sample what is on offer in our corner of Dorset and beyond. Alongside many perennial favourites, I was pleased to discover some new gems. In particular, companies aimed at those with special dietary needs seem to be becoming more abundant, with Abi Lou’s Bakes and Brews, Meatfree Martha, Shooting Star Ice Cream and The Veggie Patch, all catering for this growing market.
The PEPC Real Food Shop is a local smallholder’s cooperative, delivering fresh and organic food from its bus The Charmouth Dragon, with regular stops in Netherbury, Symondsbury, Litton Cheney, Poundbury, Axminster and Bridport. Its shelves were packed high with speciality ingredients from small local companies, whilst baskets bursting with fresh produce from smallholdings spilled down its steps. I took the opportunity to stock up on ingredient of the moment, Black Garlic, from the South West Garlic Farm, Chideock; a selection of vibrant mixed leaves and some beet tops and red chard.
I have long been a devotee of Rampisham based charcuterie company Capreolus fine foods and was excited to sample their newest creation, Dorset nduja. Nduja is a Calabrian speciality, a spreadable spicy salami, traditionally made from cheaper offcuts of pork, pork fat and fiery red Calabrian peppers. Capreolus interpretation, as with all their pork products, uses meat from Dorset free range rare/ traditional breed pigs.
With my little bundle of treasures from the festival I made a simple pasta sauce to serve with fresh tagliatelle. The deep balsamic flavour of black garlic works alongside the richness of the nduja, while a glug of white wine and some sweet ripe Isle of White tomatoes add acidity and freshness. If you like your food fiery, finish with a sprinkling of chopped red chilli, but be warned the nduja packs a fair hit of heat so try the sauce first!
Fresh tagliatelle with nduja and black garlic (Serves 6)
Puritans would probably argue against the authenticity of the following pasta dough recipe, however despite trying numerous recipes, I always find myself returning to this one for its reliability and versatility. Using just the yolks of the egg results in a rich dough, with the added advantage that it can be stored for a couple of days in the fridge before use without taking on a grey hue. Of course, you could always use a good shop bought fresh tagliatelle.
For the pasta dough
300g 00 flour
6 x large egg yolks
Water, as necessary, around 2tbsp
Generous pinch salt
Sift the flour and salt onto the work surface and make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the centre. Draw the flour in from the outside, bit by bit to combine, adding a little water if needed. The dough should be fairly stiff and not sticky. Knead until smooth, wrap in cling film and chill for at least an hour or until needed.
Set the pasta machine to its widest setting. Scatter the work surface with flour. Push the dough through the machine. Fold the sheet into 3, then push through again, repeating several times on each setting until you are satisfied with the thickness. Put the pasta through the cutter on the machine to form strips of tagliatelle, using extra flour as necessary to prevent the ribbons sticking.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for around 3 minutes until cooked but not too soft.
For the sauce
1tbsp olive oil
3 cloves black garlic, finely sliced
Handful ripe cherry tomatoes
75ml white wine
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
Bunch beet tops, spinach or red chard
Heat the oil over a medium heat, add the garlic and nduja and heat until the nduja has broken down to a paste. Add the cherry tomatoes and wine and bubble down until the tomatoes are starting to burst and the wine has reduced to a third of its volume. Add the beet tops or chard, cover and allow to wilt. Add a pinch of sugar to taste. Add the pasta with a good splash of the cooking water. The starch in the water will act as a thickening agent. Season and sprinkle with chopped chillies to serve if desired.