Farm-to-Fork, the provenance of food


Neill Anthony in the garden

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know I talk a lot about about sourcing local, free-range & ethical foods. I believe we have a right to know where our food comes from, how it’s grown or raised and the quality of life it led.

My shift started with growing my own vegetables and herbs, first in a raised bed, then an allotment and recently my garden, in which I now grow 40+ different vegetables and herbs at home.

I grew tired of buying picture perfect food sold in supermarkets, devoid of blemishes, uniform in shape, colour and taste. These can only be attained by human intervention be it in the way of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and/or ‘unnatural’ growing methods that agribusiness use.

It’s changed the way my family eats and lives, not only in knowing where our food comes from and what goes into it but also in planning meals, eating seasonally and basing them on the contents of our food garden.

I’m not 100% self-sufficient and do need to supplement my vegetable intake, but I’ve chosen to support local farmers markets and organic suppliers where possible/practical over supermarkets.

I’m blessed to live in an amazingly progressive city, Cape Town, and we have markets several days a week. One of my personal favourites for convenience and selection is The EarthFair Market in Tokai, open Wednesday nights 3pm-8pm and Saturday mornings 9am-2pm. They’ve recently opened a market on Thursdays in the CBD and it runs 11am-5pm in St Georges Mall. Outside of fresh produce they also play host to a plethora of culinary artisans.

Then of course there is the Saturday morning staple, The Neighbourhood Goods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, which runs from 9am-2pm.

One of my highlights and the gem of The Neighbourhood Goods Market is The Drift Farm. Winners of this years Eat In Awards for ‘Best Small Producer – Earth’.

Based in Napier they are certified organic and offer a wonderful collection of old world heirloom vegetables handed down from gardener to gardener over the generations. I spent time Jason and Louise over the weekend at Taste of Cape Town and you can’t help but soak up their positive energy and passion and I look forward to visiting the farm in person.

I decided to invite my good friend and chef to the stars, Neill Anthony around for lunch with a twist, we needed to focus our efforts on eating out of my garden where possible and trace the route of our produce from Farm-to-Fork.

I sent Neill a list of seasonal produce I had on hand and he came up with a 3-course meal that we shared together as we pondered the provenance of the dishes.

Neill’s starter was Steak Tartate

Steak Tartate

The key to a great Steak Tartate is of course the steak, eaten raw. Typically fillet is the cut of choice. My preferred supplier of free-range meats is GoGo’s Deli (021 671-0573) in Newlands as they cover the staples like beef, lamb and chicken and the more ‘out there’ like rabbit and goat. Sadly they were out of stock of beef on the day and I shot over to Super Meat Market (021 797 5595) in Kenilworth, an equally great source of ethical meat.

Neill has graciously put the recipe up for this super dish up on his blog, which can be found here.

Next up was exotic mushrooms and white beans with sautéed beetroot leaves, crotin, coppa topped with a sauce soubise (white onion sauce).

Mushrooms and white beans with sautéed beetroot leaves, crotin, coppa and topped with a sauce soubise

Gone are the days of being limited to white or brown button mushrooms as you can now buy great varieties like oyster, shiitake and enoki, even in supermarkets through companies like Nouvelle Mushrooms, so experiment as each has a unique texture and taste which can reinvent even the most classic of dishes.

My first choice for fresh mushrooms is Heike’s All Manna of Mushrooms with weekend stalls at both Willowbridge and Stellenbosch Slow Markets.

My favourite source of cured meats is Richard Bosman. Richard oozes passion and only uses pasture reared, ethically raised pigs. His artisanal cuts are amazing and he offers a wide range including Bressola, Coppa, Prosciutto, Salami even Bacon. You can purchase these through the Melissa’s chain of deli’s.

Last up was a grilled chicken breast filled with an aubergine and olive pesto and served with a homegrown ratatouille.

Grilled chicken breast filled with an aubergine and olive pesto and served with a homegrown ratatouille

Chicken is a staple in our home and these days finding free-range chickens is much easier than finding beef or pork. We use Elgin Free Range Chickens which are available at Pick ‘n Pay’s country wide.

Now you can quite easily make your own pesto but both Neill & I have come to love both the taste and convenience of using The Pesto Princess range of artisanal pestos which can be bought at most retail stores.

The ratatouille along with the herbs and spinach in the other dishes were right out of my food garden, where Neill can be seen in the opening photograph.

So there you have it, a wonderful 3-course meal shared amongst friends contemplating where it came from over a bottle of wine. My hope is that you might start thinking about your own food and how and where it was raised/grown and start supporting local farmers and artisans.

posted under Features
15 Comments to

“Farm-to-Fork, the provenance of food”

  1. Avatar May 8th, 2011 at 4:10 PM Sam Says:

    Oh I can see Neills invlovement here especially with the generous spread of butter under the tartare and of course the use of beans. Looks absolutely lovey and a fantastically informative article about some great produce.
    Nice one Matt!

  2. Avatar May 8th, 2011 at 9:58 PM Sonia Says:

    Deeply envious of your garden! Looks beautiful. Very nice informative post, Matt.

  3. Avatar May 8th, 2011 at 10:04 PM Matt Allison Says:

    Thanks Guys,

    I’m glad you found it informative, I’m really trying to just expose the topic so that people are at least aware of it, what they do with it is up to them.

    Sam, yip, Neill is butter CRAZY! No wonder he works out twice a day, you’d have to if you eat like him :)

    Sonia, thanks for the kind words on the garden, you are only seeing 1/3rd of it there, it is quite expansive and a real joy.


  4. Avatar May 8th, 2011 at 11:13 PM Jane-Anne Hobbs Says:

    Lovely post and lovely pics and recipes. Congrats, Matt and Neill.

    Matt, your blog just gets better and better. Well done. x

  5. Avatar May 8th, 2011 at 11:22 PM Matt Allison Says:

    Thanks Jane-Anne.

    As you know I have the utmost respect for you, your blog and your passion to encourage fellow bloggers like myself, your kudos is most welcomed.


  6. Avatar May 9th, 2011 at 1:21 PM Mari-Lise Rabie Says:

    Very nice photo of Neill in the garden! Food looks great!

  7. Avatar May 9th, 2011 at 2:28 PM Betty Bake Says:

    very cool Matt and Anthony :)
    I love your veggie garden – i so need to make my own and then grow my own :)
    Betty Bake

  8. Avatar May 9th, 2011 at 2:54 PM Lori Says:

    Whata lovely post Matt! You two should do this once a month with whatever you have in the garden :) Really enjoyed the creativity and I loved that mushroom and bean dish.

  9. Avatar May 12th, 2011 at 2:11 PM Grant Says:

    Neill’s food looks great! And I agree with you… Even growing my own salad greens and tomatoes on my balcony makes a big difference…

    I recently read Michael Pollan’s book, ‘In defense of food’, which looks into this:

  10. Avatar May 12th, 2011 at 11:02 PM Matt Allison Says:

    Hi Grant,

    I’ve got both ‘In Defense of Food’ and ‘The Omnivores Dilemma’ in my Take2 wishlist.


  11. Avatar May 13th, 2011 at 10:39 AM Grant Says:

    Hey Matt,

    It is a cool book. He has a particular argument and uses scientific studies about, among other things, the nutrients that are found in homegrown food versus those in mass produced crops. I suppose the argument could be defended on both sides to varying degrees. My dad’s friend, a food technologist, says there are no more nutrients in a battery-farmed egg than a free-range one but Pollan also looks at the pleasure food gives us as the millions of neurons in our brains (and our various senses) are stimulated as we eat… Enjoy!

  12. Avatar May 13th, 2011 at 11:56 AM I had a farm in (South)Africa... my visit to the Phisantekraal Farm | I'm no Jamie Oliver Says:

    […] he lets 2 of them out of their stables I take a call from my friend Neill Anthony and explain I can’t talk as I’m on the farm, laughter is heard on the other end of the […]

  13. Avatar July 6th, 2011 at 1:00 PM The magic of mushrooms | I'm no Jamie Oliver Says:

    […] written about exotic mushrooms before in my guest post for Cape Town Magazine and also in my Farm to Fork post with chef Neill Anthony and in most cases the mushrooms called for in the recipes on the blog […]

  14. Avatar July 7th, 2011 at 9:56 AM DELHEIM » Blog Archive » The magic of mushrooms at Delheim Says:

    […] written about exotic mushrooms before in my guest post for Cape Town Magazine and also in my Farm to Fork post with chef Neill Anthonyand in most cases the mushrooms called for in the recipes on the blog […]

  15. Avatar July 26th, 2011 at 6:33 PM Join us for a Masterclass at the B/S/H showroom | I'm no Jamie Oliver Says:

    […] I’ve attended several of Neill’s Masterclasses and outside of our professional dealings we are mates and have been known to knock back a few pints while discussing the provenance of food. […]

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