The Brighton and Hove Food Festival is not just about Sussex.
Throughout the year the team arranges many chef exchanges and events around the globe that help to promote the food and produce of our fantastic region. During the recent festival, I attended the return trip from one of these exchanges which saw chef Linus Palm of Hvita Hjorten in west Sweden team up with Brighton’s own Tom Griffiths of pop-up Flank.
The meal was to take place in the new etch. restaurant in Hove, the home of top Sussex chef Steven Edwards. I was intrigued by this event; it would be my first chance to visit etch. and the food promised to be quite different.
The event was to be ‘A Taste of West Sweden’, celebrating the cooking style that Linus uses in his restaurant, one of Sweden’s leading culinary destinations, on the south shore of Lake Vänern. A collaborative menu of ten courses had been developed with Tom, with the centrepiece a 200-day aged retired dairy cow dish.
With so many courses I cannot give you a complete run through, so here are the highlights. Things kicked off with a series of snacks and light bites – an elegant linseed cracker with wafer-thin pork belly was the highlight, although the pike, oyster and cucumber gave it a run for its money.
A dish of slow-cooked egg yolk with cured duck and brown butter was particularly memorable for its rich and indulgent textures. A soup of smoked haddock and wild garlic exploded our senses and is still talked about to this day in my house. Finishing this set of dishes was a refined and refreshing celebration of the humble trout served with leek and cauliflower and topped with a Swedish delicacy of vendace roe.
Next, the main event. Linus had brought the meat, from his own cow, over from Sweden. He knew the whole life story of the animal, and had handled the preparation of the meat throughout the whole process. The meat was superb. Almost creamy in its smoothness, there was a gamey depth to the flavour that you don’t get with ‘standard’ beef. The complete dish was packed with depth and dense flavours that let the beef sing.
A trio of desserts ended the meal including an unlikely pairing of rhubarb and goat’s cheese from Sweden; a palate-cleansing apple and buttermilk offering; and a fantastically smooth chocolate brownie. The brownie was the star, surprisingly light and ganache-like in texture, it ended the meal on a real high.
This event was certainly one to remember and it was a privilege to experience Linus’s cooking. The evening was superbly hosted by the team at etch. and I look forward to trying Steven’s food in the future. It was fantastic to see Tom back in the kitchen following a brief hiatus and I look forward to seeing what he gets up to next with Flank set to make a comeback in 2017.
‘A Taste of West Sweden’
216 Church Rd, Brighton