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Adam Lee-Potter: Love our county? Then eat and drink its cornucopia of local produce with relish

PUBLISHED: 15:38 11 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:38 11 April 2016

Illustration by Claire Jelly

Illustration by Claire Jelly

Archant

I am a sucker for a cookbook and our groaning kitchen shelves could give Waterstones a run for its money. From Alexandre Dumas to Tetsuya Wakuda, no cuisine is uncovered. It’s like an illness with me.

My latest acquisition - The Nordic Cookbook - takes up pretty much a whole shelf by itself. This tome is a revelation. My only previous experience of Scandinavian food came in Spitsbergen, a Norwegian protectorate 600 miles from the North Pole.

Nine years on, I have never forgotten the island’s grim, so-called Arctic Combination: three slices of seal, three slices of whale and a raw potato. The other speciality - a reindeer sandwich - was no improvement. A vegetarian would quickly die here, from hunger or horror or both.

But Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson has excelled himself with this 767-page epic. There is, as it turns out, much more to a smorgasbord than brutal flesh and blubber.

I can only applaud a man who has not only come up with an unlikely recipe for mince and cabbage soup but who - incredibly - has also managed to make this foul-sounding, beige concoction astonishingly tasty. Nikkaluokta has fast become my daughter’s favourite soppa.

Personally, I prefer the homemade Salmiakkikossu: Finnish vodka laced with tablets of salty liquorice. After a week, it all fuses into a green-black alcoholic cough syrup with a whiff of hospitals. But I’m totally hooked. A glass of this stuff goes supremely well with my other recent, happy discovery: a side of kid from the Brace of Butchers, Poundbury’s peerless meat palace.

You can but love a place that stocks Padrón peppers, Woolsery cheese and all the ingredients to make a superlative birria: a slow-cooked, spicy Mexican goat stew served atop hot corn tortillas.

I have had a bellyful of the late-paying meanies at Tesco and - apart from their bucatini, which I will miss - I’d far rather eat and drink local anyway. As Lyme Regis’ Mark Hix says: “There is no doubt that food eaten within its natural season and grown locally tastes far better.”

Dorset is no longer the foodie wasteland it once was: we have fabulous produce right here, right now. From Square and Compass pasties to Portland hogget, there’s truly something for everyone. Some of it’s even free. This month, why not try wild garlic and nettle soup foraged from Tyneham or Chesil Beach razor clams blanched in a broth of seawater and a dash of Furleigh Estate?

And - of course - there is beer. I have only just stumbled upon Gyle 59, a glorious, rural microbrewery in the Marshwood Vale. Their Starstruck, a velvety porter infused with star anise, is a drop of rare beauty.

My new number one cafe - Soulshine in Bridport - has fridges full of the stuff. And - after a long wet yomp in the hills above Powerstock - I cannot think of any more welcome reviver.

Life is just too short for chinless chains and big brands. So try something new and little, delicious and local this month. I dare you. 


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