At the start of the season, we were incredibly fortunate and excited to have the opportunity of working with the renowned photographer Jonathan West. He took some fabulous images capturing the preparation, creation and communal destruction of many of our signature dishes.
We were getting used to this now. The twenty-hour flight was at the back of our mind and felt like seconds compared to the equivalent bus journeys through Thailand and Vietnam. The introduction of western culture was a shock after the small food shacks, potholed roads and kamikazi mopeds of Asia, though in many ways a relief.
We almost didn't make it to Vietnam. A couple of issues with visas, tickets to Australia and a mad dash towards the plane moments before it flew almost caused us grief but we managed to make it on board the flight to Hanoi.
So our adventure begins. We've Travelled to Thailand to sample the cuisine, bare the hot weather and experience life in south east Asia. Four circus boys out travelling together for 6 months, thousands of miles away from home. What could go wrong?
How times flies! At the end of last season, although I had been offered jobs in the UK, I thought somewhere with a more agreeable climate might do me better, somewhere where food is a large part of the culture as well as the weather.
t’s 4.30 in the morning, the restaurant fleet is hooked up to various lorries and caravans attached to cars, vans and 4x4s and finally the convoy is ready to leave Blenheim Palace and make the long journey to the capital. Several miles and coffees later we pass the Fuller’s Brewery on the Hogarth roundabout and roll in the grounds of Chiswick House & Gardens.
Stadhampton was a brief affair though thoroughly enjoyable. The bank holiday weekend at Sudeley Castle shortened our weekend by a day and with the restaurant team fully assembled it was time to start to really get into things. After a wonderful visit to the brilliant Zippo’s circus directed by our very own David Hibling, we were ready for another busy weekend.
At last rehearsals! Over these 4 weeks everyone arrives and is introduced to each other. For those who have been with the Circus a while it’s exciting to imagine how the season will unfold and for the new it’s like stepping into some obscure novel. James and his merry band of musicians arrived on the first week with Hannah, Louis and Drummer Dave returning from last year with the addition of Spencer (vocals and sax) and Sarah (trombone).
It’s that time again. The circus looms before us with the promise of wonder and excitement and I start my blog, fairly early I’ll admit however there is much to be done in preparation over the next month. I’ll come to that in a bit! For now, to answer the most commonly asked question of us vagabonds: “so what do you do in the winter?”
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.
On to Bath then! Everyone gets excited when we go to Bath as the place is stunning and quite different to anywhere else we go to on tour. The distraction to go out and eat, shop and marvel at the beautiful architecture in the narrow cobbled streets is far too difficult to resist and we find ourselves sipping coffee in the many quaint cafes instead of getting an early shift in on the wagon.
Wow... Monday night was a dream come true. Ever since I first started to cook at the age of 15, all you would hear about is the legend of Marco Pierre White, the first Englishman and the youngest person ever at the time to earn 3 Michelin stars.
Well Frampton zipped past us! The weather just about held, the restaurant was full and I don't think we could have gone more local than we did! Rabbits from the estate, crayfish from the river and vegetables from the allotments near by to make the fabled stargazy pie, a version of Mark Hix's recipe, who I'm a big fan of.
It's been so nice being in Oxford. The whole company has been out and about to museums, restaurants, bars and even the Cowley Road carnival. It is definitely one of our favourite places to be as there is so much to do!
At last, Oxford! Everyone is buzzing with excitement. The venue for the next two weeks is smack bang in the centre in one of the most beautiful settings, Oxford University Parks. It's especially exciting for the kitchen as we have the amazing covered market which houses green grocers, fish mongers, cheesemongers and butchers.