Friday, November 21, 2008

Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed... a new flavour to the Newbury Business Group breakfast

When the Newbury Business Group was invited to The Mike Robinson Game and Wild Food Cookery School for its weekly meeting, it was always going to be a special experience - fellow member and wild food guru Cat Sheppard has consistently added value to West Berkshire's foremost networking group and her offer to entertain us at the School had been much anticipated.

Members eagerly made the trip to the wilds of Yattendon to the cookery school established by celebrity chef Mike Robinson, and is just down the road from his near legendary gastro pub, The Pot Kiln.

Fine tasting coffee was awaiting our arrival, together with the tantalising aromas of a breakfast worthy of the champions of business we all are - well, we are all at different points on that same journey perhaps!

Maybe it was that coffee, or the excitement of being at such a fabulous venue, but the networking buzz that the group generates was reaching new levels as we made our way into the dining room for the breakfast:

NBG Breakfast - 21 November 2008

Wild Boar & Apple Sausages
Home Smoked Bacon
Scrambled Duck Eggs with
Hedgehog Fungus
Boston Baked Beans

Homemade Bread with
Blackberry jam and Marmalade

The fabulous food proved superb fuel for the networking chatter and led to some enthusiastic one minute presentations, many of which acknowledged the quality of the spread and were brimming with examples of good practice and business wins that made for inspiring illustrations that vision and passion will bring success whatever the economic climate.

Moving back into the kitchen Cat began her 10 Minute Masterclass
- we have one every week at the Newbury Business Group - and showed us just how easy it was to bone a haunch of Roe deer and how simple it was to seal before popping into the oven.

My predecessor as chairman of the group, Mark Arrowsmith, from Snappy Snaps, had suggested to our host that she should do something special for me... so, with much excitement in the group, I was handed a bowl of a dark, lean meat, clearly from an animal much smaller than the Roe deer we had just seen Cat prepare and cook.

"Pheasant?" I hopefully queried. It wasn't, nor was it any bird... I pondered on Dormouse, that Roman delicacy, but I was pretty sure they were protected. Similarly, it surely could not be a hedgehog?

"It's squirrel", Cat revealed, to the squeals of delight and gasps of disbelief from the assembled professionals.

With that she took the bowl of squirrel meat and added it to the pan with some duck fat - it turns out squirrel is quite a dry meat and the fat stops it from drying out during the cooking! A few minutes and some rosemary and cream later, I was served up 'Confit of Squirrel in a Rosemary and Cream Sauce'. It came on toast.

Honestly, I am not squeamish and grew up a shepherd's son and that, combined some culinary globetrotting, meant I was game even if the squirrel was technically not... So I tucked in with relish, and amid much snapping from the group's sterling photographer Giles Penfound, I discovered the squirrel actually tastes quite nice. Gamey and textured, but certainly agreeable!

I had seconds and there was plenty for a significant number of the group to tuck in themselves while Cat returned to the Roe deer that was ready to come out of the oven; she turned them over so the juices could flow back through the meat and rested them for five minutes - the same time they were cooked for, before finely slicing the rare meat and drizzling a peppercorn sauce over the top.

This too was delicious - possibly even more so than the squirrel!

With a thunderous round of applause the meeting drew to a close, although many seemed to linger more than normal and there were plenty of one to one encounters too.

Cat commented after the meeting: "It was incredibly nice to have everyone here; there is only so much I can say in the normal meetings to explain what we do here. By coming to the Cookery School it has given everyone a whole new perspective and it will be easier in the future for th
e members to give us even more referrals."

The star of the day makes a great point - how on earth can fellow networkers be expected to be raving fans if they do not understand what you do? Make the effort to understand!


Newbury Business Group Member said...

Now we have the challenge of finding some more interesting things for Nigel to eat!

Robert Holland

Newbury Business Group Member said...

Great breakfast awesome demonstration and a great group of people.

John Proudfoot Bigprint

Nigel Morgan - Morgan PR said...

Thank you gentlemen!

And as far as more interesting things to eat goes...

I have tried humble pie in the past and once or twice had had to 'eat my words'

I think one of Mike Robinson's tasting menus would be a good idea - if the Newbury Business Group wanted to sponsor me I could do a 10 minute masterclass in overindulgence in fine food from our natural resources!

Robin said...

As a fully signed up foodie, for me this meeting has to go down as one of the best we have ever had. Fabulous food - yes even the squirrel! Plus a really informative 10 minutes.

I also agree with Robert - can we suggest to Cat that she brings something new along for Nigel to taste every week?!

Rob Winnett

Paul Cowie said...

Yet another great breakfast meeting with the Newbury Business Group. This is a good example of what differentiates this group from the regimented offerings of other networking groups - we have fun!

Paul Cowie

Newbury Business Group Member said...

Last Friday's Newbury Business Group meeting was truly memorable. As I wrote to Cat "The welcome was wonderful and the breakfast was truly the best I have tasted in my life! Fab.
I’m sure Nigel will “make a meal” of being presented with squirrel on toast!" And he did!
Oh well - I guess it's back to fruit this week!

Jill Spiers