Above: Doing good with food can be sweet.
For a long time now I've had a suspicion that people go hungry not so much because there's not enough food to go around. That's just the schtick pitched by big industrial companies trying to sell you chemical fertilisers and genetically modified seeds.
Rather, a significant chunk of the hunger problem is due to access to food being ALL kinds of messed up. Which must be the case if food retailers throw out millions of tons of edible food every year due to supply overstock, while entire communities are starving.
Enter FoodCycle. The charity collects perfectly edible surplus food that would otherwise be chucked by retailers (e.g. "ugly" looking vegetables), converts them into delicious and nutritious meals, then distributes those meals to socially marginalised groups such as refugees, the elderly and the working poor.
This pragmatic ethos and approach struck a chord with me, so last night we popped along to the opening night of Food Cycle's Forgotten Feast fundraiser, cheffed by eco-chef Tom Hunt, who had to improvise a menu based on otherwised dumped and foraged donations.
Above: Eco chef Tom Hunt talks us through the menu for Food Cycle's Forgotten Feast
It did mean that what eventually got served was significantly different from the menu publicised, but the meal was delicious nonetheless. (Admittedly I was relieved that sea urchin salad dressing didn't make it to the table in the end.) Bonus: Our dinner-companions-by-luck were a warm sparkling group of food journalists from Hong Kong and charity workers.
The event at Fleet River Bakery in Holborn opened with "ugly" vegetable crudities with a delicious beetroot dip. One to keep in mind for my next party.
To start, little bits of grilled pitta bread with a red-pepper-based baba ghanoush. Pleasant enough, but not particularly impactful.
A salad of foraged seaside leaves, and mackeral left over from a previous catering event that had been pickled. Delicious!
Dinner mains were served on family-style sharing platters. Always a great way to break the ice at the table.
The highlight of the evening was me was Tom's pig head porchetta, made from deconstructing, then ghetto sous-vide-ing, a dozen pig heads. A gruesome process with a deliciously gelatinous work of gourmet art as the result. Kudos!
The motherload of porchetta.
The other "protein" main was salted pollock (a great sustainable fish currently teeming in Cornwall it seems) baked with rock samphire, a leafier variation to the more twiggy marsh samphire.
Personally I felt the pollock was over salted - perhaps it doesn't stand up to the salting process the way that the much more muscular cod does. Best to have some bread and vegetables on hand.
Speaking of which, vegetables sadly tend be a much neglected afterthought when eating out. So I really enjoyed the abundance of vibrantly fresh vegetables at this dinner.
Maybe these tomatoes were too irregularly shaped for some supermarket shelf but look at how gorgeous they are on a plate simply garnished with pesto!
Grilled peppers, courgettes and carrots. Love the riot of colour and the sweet crispy burnt tips of the carrots.
And to finish, a lovely chocolate tart with a stew of summer fruits and a dollop of cream.
Overall, a wholesome and heartwarming way to spend £32 and an evening. Do some good with food!
This event runs till Sunday 24 June 2012. A few seats are still available here.
Disclosure: I'm the founder of Edible Experiences, and am helping to sell tickets for The Forgotten Feast. I attended this event as a paying customer.