Thursday 21st July
Last Thursday saw 10 of Team Opus head down to Worcester Produce to see all of the beautiful produce we use every day in the dishes and to get as much knowledge as possible crammed in before our Vegetarian Dinner in August.
We arrived in sunny Worcester around 11am and were greeted by Phil and Sean of Worcester Produce who showed us into a boardroom where we were told the itinerary of the day. We were then given some hi-vis jackets and caps. Looking the part, we headed into the warehouse where all of our fruits and vegetables are packed for distribution. The room was freezing to ensure the produce maintained its quality, fortunately it was a hot day! After spending half an hour walking around, tasting and learning lots, we went back to the boardroom, returned to our original attire and set off to the first of a few fields/nurseries on the schedule.
First stop was Pershore Horticultural College, where we met Sophie Sidaway of Juneberries UK who farms Canada’s superfood; Juneberries. They are a sweet red-fleshed berry which carry a higher level of proteins, fat and fibre compared to other types of fruit. It is an excellent source of manganese, iron and vitamins H (B7) and B2. This superfood is an excellent alternative (or addition) to usual suspects of berries grown in the UK.
Sophie hand picks every single berry herself! We had the pleasure of trying this amazing fruit. We will be using Sophie’s berries within the menu for our Vegetarian Dinner – keep your eyes peeled!
Still at Pershore College, we walked over to where the cherry trees were. O-M-G they were possibly the sweetest, ripest cherries ever! They were perfect in shape and the darker the skin, the sweeter they were. The sweetest ones tended to ripen first at the top of the tree, fortunately we had a few 6ft+ guys from the kitchen to pass down to us shorties!
Next, we headed to B&G Nurseries in Offenham to see the fascinating chilli farm. The farm was kept within a huge glass container that acted as a greenhouse – although it was extremely hot, this gave the chillies the perfect climate to ripen. The more daring of the team tried the raw chilli – and it’s safe to say they were very spicy! Within the same farm were loads of basil harvesting, it was fresh in scent and in flavour.
Afterwards we headed to a field just outside Evesham where British courgettes, tenderstem broccoli and sweetcorn are grown. The courgettes are at their prime at the moment. The sweetcorn will be at its best around September time – we look forward to ordering some in!
Lastly, we travelled a further 5 minutes to where the orchard apple trees were. There were a few varieties growing near each other including cider apples and cox apples. We tried Pershore College’s home-brewed cider using these apples – it was strong but delicious! The apples on the trees weren’t quite ripe, as they were tart and extra crunchy, they would probably be best by early autumn and would be used in pies or for stewing.
Overall, it was a great day and thank you to Worcester Produce for having us! We’ll be back for a visit next year and see you at our Vegetarian Dinner!
Vegetarian Dinner with Worcester Produce on Friday 19th August. 5 courses with wine pairing, aperitif and service for £65pp