For a blog that likes to focus on the joys of local food, Locality is a pretty perfect shop. In their own words, they are a ‘local shop for local people’, full of local produce. Run and stocked by farmers from the next town, Pembury, they use as much local food as possible, subsidising from slightly further afield if they need to. It’s focused on seasonal, local, sustainable, and it makes me pretty happy that it’s there.
I always stopped in on the independent greengrocers in the middle of town but they recently closed and there are haven’t been any other independent options for fruit and veg. I use my local butcher, and the local fishmonger, and head to the farmer’s market when it’s there. I’m not a masochist; I don’t want it to be the hardest thing in the world to buy local gooseberries. So my life just got a lot easier.
Really, one of the best things about this shop is that you know what you’re getting. You can rest easy in the knowledge that as much as possible is as local as possible. I was in there for about twenty minutes and there were four other customers in there at the time, enough for a newly opened shop. And they all seemed happy about the shop, and totally supportive of the idea.
For the last ten minutes of my visit I was the only customer in there so it gave me the chance to chat to Marianna who was behind the counter. Friendly, helpful and enthusiastic, it was so lovely to chat to someone who seemed so invested in working there. No nameless, faceless, bored senseless staff in this shop – they’re there for a reason and the reason is good. We chatted about the ideas behind the shop, the various producers and suppliers, the plans they had for the shop – more products will be introduced over the next weeks and months, and they plan to have more comprehensive labelling – a label for every product showing exactly where it’s from. And, if you care about that kind of stuff, it makes your life a hell of a lot easier.
This dish! This heavenly dish! I wouldn’t suggest you eat it every night, especially if you have an iffy relationship with your cholesterol levels, but I feel comfortable in recommending this to you as it is a fairly small portion. My best friend V joined us for dinner, as she can never turn down an egg supper; she’s a sucker for an egg (there’s definitely a Grandma pun in there somewhere). So, three people, two eggs each – not too greedy. Per person it’s a couple of eggs, a slice of ham and sprinkle of cheese. Oh, and a dollop of cream.
I’m a big egg fan, and we eat an egg based dish once a week. Since we’ve chosen to eat less meat and fish; meat, twice a week and fish, twice a week. We eat vegetarian food three times a week now, so eggs play a bigger part in our diet than they used to. Good thing too, as a good egg is a good meal. These were good eggs, local eggs, and this is a good meal. So much more than the some of its parts, it elevated the humble egg to a complete bloomin’ feast.
The success of this meal does rely on its simplicity and, therefore, its ingredients. Every single ingredient in this dish had come from within this county. The spinach was from West Malling, the cream was from Benenden, the cheese and ham were from Faversham, the eggs from Pembury. It’s definitely worth getting good eggs – they really are the star of the show. Next up: the ham. Please, please, I beg of you, use good quality ham – crappy, watery, reformed ham just won’t cut the
mustard apple sauce (it’s pork, it has to be apple sauce). To be honest, whilst this was good ham, I will still be using my butchers for my meat needs – I just don’t like meat that has been vac-packed and sweating away in its plastic. It was definitely up to the job, and it’s brilliantly handy to have a shop in the centre of town that can supply meat essential when I can’t make the four miles to the butcher, but it won’t be my first choice.
And, finally, take a look at this cream. So thick, I thought that it had settled to the top so I stirred it and stirred it, imagining that a coconut milk style separation had taken place. But no, it really was that thick. All the way through… wow.
Über-rich, insanely comforting, and beautifully unctuous, this dish is a culinary cuddle.
- 200g spinach
- 3 slices good smoked ham
- 50g cheese, grated
- 6 eggs
- 4tsp double cream
- Salt and pepper
- Steam the spinach for 3-4 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool slightly and roughly chop. Divide between the six ramekins and press down.
- Dice the ham and divide between the six ramekins.
- Top each ramekin with the grated cheese.
- Crack an egg into each ramekin, top with a teaspoon of cream and season with salt and pepper.
- Put the ramekins in a bain-marie and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the egg white is just cooked and the yolk is still runny.
- Serve with a salad and enjoy this salute to local produce.