St Patrick’s Day is just around the corner—but you knew that. A hot cross bun, though, to anyone east of the Severn who’s noticed that today is the day that we honour St David of Wales—which is a good place to be in springtime, for the lush scenery, the reawakening of the spirits which the Welsh call hwyl—and of course for the spring lamb. St David nailed the saint thing in sixth-century Ceredigion when he caused the ground beneath his feet to rise up so that his sermon could be heard by the assembled masses. Nowadays, a few new Welsh voices are making themselves heard on the London culinary scene.
On March 9th, make the pilgrimage to Stevie Parle and Tom Dixon’s Craft London in north Greenwich for the first of its new Thursday Feasts. These monthly one-off dinners will showcase seasonal ingredients and specific processes; the first theme is smoking, pickling and curing and comes courtesy of Shaun Hill, who’s (literally) written the book on Salt. Hill is the Michelin-starrred head chef at legendary Monmouthshire restaurant The Walnut Tree—a strong presence on the UK culinary radar ever since Franco and Ann Taruschio began cooking their sensational Italian dishes there in the 1960s.
Make a note in your diary for late May, too, to try Tom Simmons at Tower Bridge. Simmons, from Pembrokeshire, was the youngest competitor to reach the quarter-finals of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2011 and has worked with Mark Sargeant and Tom Aikens. With his eponymous restaurant, at which his partner Lois Thomas will be in charge of the front of house, his stated goal is to bring a part of Wales to London. “Both myself and Lois are hugely proud of our Welsh heritage and we want this to come across in our restaurant,” he says. “The majority of our produce will be coming from Wales, not because it’s Welsh, but because it’s up there with the best. It just happens that we’re Welsh too and rooting for it.” Expect ingredients such as laverbread, cockles and Preseli lamb, classically but inventively cooked.
Or head for NW1 and much-loved neighbourhood restaurant Odette’s, where you can feast on Sirloin and cheek of Welsh beef, pomme Anna, cabbage and yuzu, cooked by chef-patron Bryn Williams. Then stroll it off on nearby Primrose Hill, feel the soul’s sap quiver, and imagine you’re climbing Fern Hill. If only.—Anna Blomefield
Photo credit: David Cotsworth