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Royalty calls and the mystery of the sage stabber.
Last week we had a wee visitation from Matt Mason, head chef of The Jack in the Green and Ross Hayward from Well Seasoned PR. Matt is completely obsessed about only using local and seasonal ingredients at the Jack and regularly prowls around the County on the hunt for good quality produce. It is his ‘thing’ and The Jack in the Green has been serving ‘Totally Devon’ menu options since long before it became trendy for Chefs to support local producers. Maddocks Farm Organics has been supplying the Jack with edible flowers, seasonal salad leaves, herbs and foragings for a couple of years now and I adore working with the whole team. They are all unbelievably professional, organised, knowledgeable and above all good humoured and they keep this ageing salad grower completely on her toes. Matt and Ross are working on some new footage for The Jack in the Green’s website so I look forward to seeing the results although several weeks of drought have meant that the farm was looking very parched indeed and I seem to have lost my hairbrush (no comment on Matt)! Matt and I also did a great double act at the Exeter Food Festival in the Spring where he created a stunning Bloody Mary Prawn Cocktail served in a Tulip. Recipe on the blog here. Here, whilst wandering around the polytunnels I showed Matt how frustrating it is to be an organic grower attracting a huge number of bees to the polytunnels. Normally bees, in this case bumble bees, will land on a flower to extract the nectar and move on to the next one causing no damage beyond throwing pollen around. Not in the case of the salvias. As the flowers trumpets are too long for the bees to reach the delicious nectar the bees take a short cut and stab each and every flower in the side in order to extract their sugary treat. Some poor flowers had been lanced as many as three times making them completely useless for the restaurant. This year the bumble bees can keep their sage flowers but next year I will be wise in advance and build a bee proof bed and the bees can head back outside for their alternative favourites at this time of year – the sunflowers and the dahlias. Thank you for taking time to visit us Matt and Ross.