Well better late than never... my last blog of the tour!
Cirencester, my home town and the home straight. I know the butchers, greengrocers and restaurants really well which makes my life here very easy. I paid a visit to Butts Farm on the outskirts of Ciren to have a look at what my old freind Gary had to offer. The farm is an amazing place with outstanding rare breeds and the butchers skill is second to none. After using the flat rib last week, I decided to go for some organic chicken - 60 of them! They were delivered to the back of the restaurant and I just couldn't help starting to break them down. Strangely I spent my entire day off preparing these lovely birds; crowning the breasts, making a stock from the bones and taking off the legs, stuffing them with a farce of trompette mushrooms, the livers and some of that amazing English black truffle that we have been getting. Mad! My whole day off!
Anyway, the starter. When I worked at Barnsley House at 18 we had an abundance of tomatoes from the allotments there and a lot of stale bread. The obvious thing to make is a classic Italian tomato and bread salad. Sounds incredibly boring but it really isn't! I get enormous satisfaction when I scrape the rock salt between my fingers over the multicoloured over-ripe tomatoes bursting with sweetness, black pepper, torn basil, and some aged balsamic.
I've never tried lava bread, so I ordered some from New Wave. It's odd stuff. Salty, slimy and a strange shade of greeny brown, but I like it for some reason. I wouldn't want to eat it on its own so I thought it would be good for the colcannon with some smoked mackerel and creme fraiche.
Pears, it's the season! A beautiful conference pear and sherry trifle stuck in my mind but not a piddly individual one you'd get in a restaurant but a big chunky one you can all get stuck in with loads of custard, cream and toasted almonds.
So that's how we finished the season in the restaurant, standing ovations for the puppets as we performed our last show (we're working on it for next year...) But we weren't quite done... On to Fennells Farm then, the new home for Giffords Circus set in the beautiful swooping hills of the Stroud valleys in Lypiatt. The place is absolutely stunning.
We took this last week to try out an iea for next year - street food. Toti sent one of the pigs from the farm off to the butchers to make some brilliant sausages and the outcome was obvious. The ultimate posh hot dog! Sweet onions, mustard and a blob of ketchup, something that you will certainly see next year when you're feeling peckish after the show!
So, that's that then. Another year, a brilliant year in fact. we've enjoyed full shows, a fully booked restaurant, we've travelled through the heart of the English countryside, we've lived in the grounds of a plalace, in the university grounds of one of the oldest and beautiful cities, countless stunning towns and villages, welcomed with open arms wherever we've been from the pubs, butchers, shops and restaurants, cooked with one of the best and most respected chefs in the world and shared our time with the most talented people from acrobats, jugglers, hand balancers, contortionists, dancers, clowns, turkeys and so many others. Six months on it's time to say our goodbyes. It's a feeling I cannot really explain to those that have not run away with Giffords before. There's no-where like it and I suppose we are the lucky ones as we get to experience at least another year in this silly place. Till next year!