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Mark and his team were pioneers in sourcing quality British products to use in their ever growing restaurant group and were soon buying all their oil from hillfarm. In 2008 Mark included us in his book British Regional Food published.
Last week 14 of us gathered in the beautiful private room at one of Mark’s newest ventures Hixter Bankside just behind the Tate Modern. We were joined by writers from the Guardian, Sainsbury’s Magazine, Country and Townhouse and chefs including Tony Rodd, finalist on Masterchef 2015.
Over cocktails of white port and tonic we enjoyed some fantastic British Roasted fava beans from our friends Hodmedods just up the road from us in Suffolk.
A highlight this time was that we were joined, not only my Mark, but also his Executive Chef and right-hand man, Kevin Gratton who had developed the menu and talked passionately to guests about how he uses the oil and other parts of the plan from the greens to the seeds.
As we sat down for the introductions there was a noisy crunching on scrumpy-fried rape greens. The Hix restaurants have been evangelists for the young flower stems of rapeseed which have a mildly peppery taste and these had been deep fried in a light batter. Alongside them proud Yorkshire puddings roasted in hillfarm oil, perfectly crisp on the outside and soft in the centre.
Conversation was flowing and all the hillfarm team moved around between each course to make sure we got to talk to everyone. By our pudding of Temperley (Somerset Cider Brandy) mess with honeyed madeleine with rapeseeds that crunched subtly and gave a hint of nuttiness against the sweet pudding.
The whole lunch was really special and showcased the versatility of the oil from roasting to marinading, from mayonnaise and frying.
We are hugely grateful to Mark and Kevin and all the team at Hixter Bankside for making us feel so welcome and sharing their enthusiasm with our visitors.