THE BLOG

This Week I Ate... Broighter Gold, Frescobaldi and M

20/03/2015 17:06 GMT | Updated 19/05/2015 10:59 BST

My munching has taken me to the plains outside Derry in Northern Ireland. Near the village of Limavady are fields where, in 1896, a farmer tilling the land uncovered what became known as the greatest hoard of gold found in Ireland. There, glinting in the soil, were necklaces, a gold collar and a miniature boat. The artefacts dated from the Iron Age, from the first century AD. But I was not in this part of the world to lick an ancient collection of trinkets. Instead I was there to taste a rather more modern thing of gold. For in the same fields that the gold was stumbled across now, come summer, comes the glowing gold light of oil seed rape, bright yellow when it is in full bloom.

On fields where cattle used to roam have been planted a crop that, when pressed in machines in the old dairy, oozes a rich liquid that is called Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil. As the summer fades, the bright flowers drop and the plants look brown and dead, the seeds are harvested. These tiny black dots produce an oil that many cooks now prefer to olive oil. And at the farm, run by Leona and Richard Kane, the crushed seeds are then turned into cattle feed; a small sausage-making type device turning out pale green nibbles that look like pony nuts.

While Richard is the farmer, Leona's domain is the oil. She turns out dainty bottles of the stuff and adds different ingredients to flavour her product - from a fiery chilli to a rosemary-hued drizzle for salads or roasts.

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Broighter Gold pictures by Rick Foulsham at rickfoulsham.co.uk

'The oil is cholesterol free,' she says, 'and as it boils at a higher temperature than olive oil it's perfect for getting crisp roast potatoes.'

I didn't need much convincing. This is an epic product, a British oil and a great example of successful farming diversification.

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I was at the farm to act as a judge in a competition organised by the hotel chain Indigo. Their Flavours of the Neighbourhood challenge involved a search for an artisanal producer whose wares matched their locality and, more importantly, tasted great. So over the past weeks I had munched cakes in Birmingham, black puddings in Carluke in Scotland and samosas in Brighton.

With fellow judges, who included Suffolk farmer Jimmy Doherty, we whittled down the contestants to an exciting shortlist. The Vintage tea Company from Penllergaer was up against Birmingham-based Buckingham's Cake Palace, pork butcher Ramsay of Carluke battled Indian Tadka.

Broighter Gold won the day and quite right too. They have an exciting oil which deserves to become famous and brighten up the shelves of supermarkets across Britain and overseas. So seek it out: roast with it, drizzle it, it just dip your bread into it.

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I was also dipping bread into some tasty oils at a new Italian restaurant this week. And you may wonder if London needs another up-market Italian establishment. But my answer is that if it bears the name Frescobaldi then the answer is yes. Frescobaldi is the name of an Italian winemaker and a dynasty that has been crushing grapes for around 700 years.

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While my favourite of their offerings is the Pomino Bianco, you can now sip that and many of their other wines at a restaurant the family has opened in Mayfair. The place is light and modern, elegant illustrations of Renaissance-type characters bedeck the walls languorously while the names of their various wines are carved into wooden panels.

The menus is classic, the food cleanly flavoured and some of prices quite astonishing. An antipasti dish of beetroot salad with watercress and pistachio comes in at £14. The T-bone steak with roasted veg is £65.

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But if the sun of economic growth is shining on your back and you have finished fixing the roof, splash out. The food at Frescobaldi, like the décor, is clean, pure, elegant, tasty and really very good. It's like taking a shower is a smart new spa. You come out refreshed, cleansed, smelling sweet and it's not until you check your VISA bill that you squirm.

There is more meat at M. This is in another new street, Frescobaldi's location being on a road you won't find on an old map. Off Threadneedle Street in the City of London is a vast kingdom of a place. It houses two restaurants, a chic wine-tasting bar, a cocktail area, private dining rooms and a naughty secret den.

The grand staircase enables you to parade your glorious self as you sweep up to the bar, noting the beef, trendily ageing in a glass-walled room just off the kitchen.

Anyone who knows their funky food stuff is not eating beef until it has gone grey, is nearing mould and is deader than dead.

And so the thing to do it here is go mad with their meat. The price of Frescobaldi's T-bone pales as you call for single cuts of Wagyu beef at £139. You can also order pan-friend crocodile to impress hot dates, scare prospective in-laws or out alpha-male your city boy chums.

And if conversation is running out you can take your party to the kitchen where real life butchers can give you a beef masterclass or cut up your cow to order.

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Seriously, the grilled flesh here is wonderful. And as you guzzle Petrus wines by the glass from Enoteca machines at around £45 per sip, you can swap your own cache of gold here in return for a good old-fashioned City boy, good old days, boom-style, loadsa-money big cash meat fest.