The Great British Spelt Recipes presented at the Athenaeum Hotel
There is a bit of a trend at the moment for spelt. A rustic grain that was first recorded as being eaten by the Romans, it now appears in supermarkets, speciality delicatessens and restaurants across the country. Perhaps we might even try to cook with it in our own kitchens? Spelt bread. Spelt risotto. Spelt soup … Spelt … Spelt? For many of us our inventive cookery skills stop there – but this doesn’t have to be the case.
On Tuesday 29th February, a chattering bunch of foodies greedily eyed tables groaning under plates and tiers of the most fantastic looking cakes and bakes. With recipes donated by the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Heston Blumenthal, and Alex Gooch, inventiveness, eccentricity and sheer deliciousness were in store. But tasting these spelt-inspired delights was not the only reason we were gathered at the Athenaeum Hotel.
Great British Spelt Recipes will be a free publication available online on 1st April 2013. In association with the charity Bowel Cancer UK, the online recipe book aims to raise awareness of the cancer and how a healthy fibre-rich diet increases the chances of preventing it. The statistics are frightening: 41,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year, and this number is steadily rising for young people – not just for the over 50s. It is the second biggest cancer killer in the UK. And, says Deborah Alsina, CEO of Bowel Cancer UK, it can be preventable.
It was after his sister was diagnosed with second stage bowel cancer that fashion entrepreneur Roger Saul decided to start growing spelt on his Somerset farm, Sharpham Park. Since then, the partnership has enlisted the help of charismatic chef Rachel Green, with the support of the enthusiastic Fabulous Baker Brothers to help promote their message. The relationship between this entirely British spelt farm and Bowel Cancer UK appears to be a match made in epicurean heaven.
A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so they say. And what better way to take advantage of this, than to propel their message through the press and public alike, through the power of food. Spelt waffles, cooked to order, drizzled with pesto, wild mushrooms and lardons. Chocolate and sour cherry spelt cakes; a rhubarb spelt tart; raisin and walnut spelt bread. The inventiveness and decadence was overwhelming, but the beauty of the recipes to be included in Great British Spelt Recipes is the accessibility of them. “I tried to make my Great British Pie as un-chef-like as possible”, says chef and Great British Spelt Recipes contributor Sven-Hanson Britt. Working with spelt is slightly more hard work he says, but the results are fantastic.
Let’s hope that the mouth-watering recipes supplied by celebrity chefs and professional foodies alike can help to pass the prevention message to as many people as possible.
Photos: Dimitris Amvrazis
For further information about Sharpham Park visit here.
For further information about Bowel Cancer UK and how to support the charity visit here.