Filming Saturday Kitchen

(by peter)

The Saturday Kitchen bandwagon trundled into the charming town of Saffron Walden this week.

And promptly got lost in a life-size maze.

There we were: producer, cameraman, presenter. All grown ups. All sober. In front of us, a hedge maze of some seven feet in height, at its centre, tantalisingly close, a viewing tower from which we planned to film a piece to camera.

In went the cameraman. In went the producer. Much rustling ensued. When the cursing started, it was muffled; it soon became more profane and audible in equal measure. A slightly desperate appeal was made at one point to access Google maps for a satellite view…

But, as the SK wine team inevitably does when backs are to the wall, pulled through in admirable fashion.

The ‘amazing’ results (no doubt a Benny Hill-esque sequence) may or may not feature on this weekend’s Saturday Kitchen (don’t miss it: BBC1 from 10am, with wine bits around 10.15 and 10.45, following each of the chef’s dishes cooked live in the studio).

Here, in the meantime, is a sneak preview of the filming and a clue as to the identity of one of the wines…

What are more certain to feature are two delicious fish-based dishes from top chefs Kenny Atkinson (of Rockliffe Hall in Country Durham) and Glynn Purnell (of Purnell’s in Birmingham).

Kenny’s cooking John Dory with chestnut mushrooms and parsnip and apple purée. Glynn is knocking up a Spanish-style broth featuring Pollock, chorizo, goat’s cheese, spinach and butter beans.

I can promise some delicious white and rosé action (not sure James Martin’s manly credentials will allow him to buy into the latter…) but for the proper scoop you’ll have to wait until Saturday morning.

Sadly, none of the dishes feature saffron, a commodity whose local success lead to the town being renamed from Chipping Walden. At one time, crocuses aplenty grew in this area. Now, according to our contact at the museum, it’s all shipped in from Holland. Something to do with the price of land..?

The area is also famous for the fact that Jamie Oliver ‘lives quite close’, according to another well informed local contact. Apparently his family shop quite regularly in a top-end supermarket that the celebrity chef doesn’t endorse (hardly a surprise). And his dad’s pub is not only good for food, but also for seeing, in somewhat spooky fashion, what Jamie will look like in a few years…

From a wine point of view, it was interesting to pop into a Cellar & Kitchen shop, one of the new stable from Southwold brewer Adnam’s. The wine range looked laudably eclectic, the shop itself a pleasant mish-mash of kitchen ware, booze and – slightly oddly – polo shirts.

It was also great to find a little gem of a shop at Audley End train station (which serves Saffron Walden).

The owner Jay introduces the shop in the video below…I’ll limit myself to saying that it’s not in every provincial railway station newsagent that you’ll find magnums of Saintsbury Pinot Noir and bottles of Viña Tondonia 1985 knocking around beside your Maltesers and Grazia mags.

It’s almost worth a visit on its own…