Daffodil The Priory Inn
The Priory Inn pasta
Kale The Priory Inn









 

Cotswolds local and seasonal food - March 2017


Dear March - Come in - How glad I am - I hoped for you before - *”

March provides us with a strong sense of expectation of the warmer times ahead. Our senses are revived by a new cycle of colour and scents as the monochrome months become a memory. New, but familiar earthy smells are in the air and a certain light and colour have quietly dawned. In order for conditions to be good for the tractors to emerge from their barns, the soil conditions must dry out after the havoc wreaked by dramatic Doris and February's steady levels of rainfall. The arable farmers need to be patient to turn over the soils in preparation for the growing season. A visit to Westonbirt Arboretum will indulge the visual senses with the signature signs of the new season: scatterings of delicate snowdrops; brassy crocuses; bountiful golden daffodils and narcissi; and soon camellia and rhododendron buds will explode into Springtime fireworks. Even the morning bird songs have turned up the volume, expanded in vocabulary and drive a sense of anticipation. The big weekend this month is the 25th / 26th when we celebrate Mothering Sunday, Earth Hour on the Saturday (see below) and our clocks spring forward, helping us save daylight and enjoy longer evenings. *Emily Dickinson

We have an in-house commitment, and in-built ethos, to buy over 90% of our food and drink from within a 30 mile radius of Tetbury. In order to facilitate buying from a many small producers and artisans, we make a trip each Saturday to Stroud Farmers' market. Since the beginning of the 17th Century, the convergence of five valleys meant Stroud was an ideal location for trading locally produced cloth and wool, and so a market became firmly established. Four hundred years later a healthy entrepreneurial spirit attracts farmers, bakers, vegetable, fruit and flower growers, artisan producers, brewers, cider and cheese makers to a vibrant rural heartland. We hustle through the early shoppers with The Priory Inn van as soon as the stalls are set up, to load up the week's orders placed by our chef. Each season varies in terms of atmosphere and noise level within the walled marketplace, depending on the produce available and the corresponding sense of expectation. The reassuring constant is the strong sense of community and friendly banter exchanged from one stall to the next and along the queues of regular shoppers. Familiar weathered faces stamp and shuffle to keep warm, and chat with ease, despite their dawn start. A visit to Stroud's market feels like a pleasing step back in time. It is down to us all to support these single-minded business people and families in their quest for delivering local, high quality food and drink. fresh-n-local.co.uk

There is always the possibility of coming across an exciting new trader at the market whose product we can weave into our menus. Our team of chefs work together to come up with new ideas and a new dish will journey through 3 or 4 evolutions before it makes it onto the daily specials. If met with enthusiastic reviews, it will transfer to the menu. This is what recently happened with our new vegetarian pasta. Not long ago, we came across the people behind Little Hollows Pasta at Stroud market and took some fresh samples back to our kitchen. The Bristol-based company was born through a love of fresh, simple food - after a hitch-hiking trip through Northern Italy. The dedicated team has a great range of artisan pasta on sale every week at Stroud - never more than 2 days old. You'd expect to see the old familiars such as tagliatelle and spaghetti, but they also have more unusual pastas such as radiatori (Italian for radiator - now on our dinner menu) cavatelli (little hollows – their namesake) and pretty little folded pasta know as agnolotti del plin. These are all made with love and sharing our drive for using local quality ingredients, their recipes use flour from Shipton Mill and local organic eggs from happy hens. The taste says it all.

A top favourite snack whilst at the market is a freshly made falafel wrap, served with Funky Falafel's delicious salady extras and hummus. In fact they are so good, that we decided to include these little flavour bombs on our lunch menu. Always served with a smile in Stroud - whatever the weather, and worth every penny, you can enjoy the flavours at the local markets, take home a warm bag for later or enjoy them in our home baked pitta bread here at The Priory Inn.

In order to bring our staff up to scratch on their supplier and product knowledge, we take regular staff tours to places like Uley Brewery. This tour always inspires because the small team's pride in their great product is so delightfully apparent. On first sight, the location of the brewery takes you by surprise – nestled in amongst a residential neighbourhood in the pretty little village of Uley. The village (now home to just one pub), was once a hub of the wool trade in the 19th Century and the dusty mill workers' thirst was satisfied by the 13 pubs on record. Uley Brewery was originally built on the site of the lower village spring in 1833 by Samuel Price to help meet the keen demand for beer, and operated until the wool trade collapsed at the end of the 19th Century. In1984, Chas Wright took the opportunity to rebuild and refit the buildings to allow beer once again to be produced in the now Grade 2 listed brewery. “The strong demand for our craft-brewed beer gives us the luxury of ensuring that our beers are only found in REAL PUBS kept by REAL PUBLICANS, who judge a beer by its taste rather than the discount!”

If you are joining us for dinner on Saturday 25th March, then you will be spending an hour from 8.30pm in candlelight in support of the WWF’s Earth Hour. We come together with over 1 billion other organisations and individuals as well as many iconic, global landmarks in making this simple gesture to show our support for people and wildlife threatened by climate change. WWF’s Earth Hour is a significant way for The Priory Inn and its customers to join this massive event and to show world leaders and decision-makers that we care about climate change. Pledge your support online at earthhour.org, make a donation on the night to our collection and we will match the amount raised. Anyone thinking about a table on Mothering Sunday may also want to book ahead.

Live Sunday music is an integral part of The Priory Inn's product and starts every week at 8pm - entry is free. On the 5th March, Tim Manning of Blind River Scare plays country-tinged songs for us, followed by Steve Page performing some of the finest Americana. The 19th welcomes the “engaging and uplifting” Wildwood Jack and folkish young Bristolian guitarist Chris Webb rounds out March on the day of rest for all mums and grannies...the 26th. See our website for information on each performer.

"Daffodils, That come before the swallow dares, and take The winds of March with beauty." William Shakespeare