It was a lovely sunny day and we sat outside to chat about all things food. I started by asking Daniel about matching the dishes at The Vineyard with wine; most importantly which comes first, the wine or the meal? He said it depends, sometimes the wine is tasted first to find any characteristics in the wine that can be picked out in the food and the dishes can be adapted to it. More often the dish is created from what is in season and the wine matched afterwards.
We moved on to talk about the ingredients used at The Vineyard; as Daniel says, you can’t have good food without good ingredients. The Vineyard uses the best possible quality, seasonal ingredients and works really closely with his suppliers, they are also part of The Sustainable Restaurant Association. 80% of the ingredients used are British and around 50% of these are from Scotland.
I then asked a slightly tricky question: what is your favourite French and British ingredient? Daniel’s favourite French ingredient is Poulet de Bresse and British ingredient is scallops from Orkney. Also, Balmoral venison, langoustines, girolles and raspberries from Scotland.
Then, the most difficult question of all: what is the one ingredient he couldn’t live without? He said dark chocolate and other than chocolate; olive oil, garlic, chilli, lime and lemongrass.
Daniel is from Franche-Comté and we got to chatting about the food from his childhood and people who have influenced him in his life. When he was younger he often went foraging with his father for mushrooms and the knowledge he gained has stayed with him.
He learnt to cook from his mother and great aunt who he described as fantastic cooks. Whenever the family visit France, Daniel’s son always requests Tarte aux Pommes Maman. Daniel’s son says that Daniel’s version of the Tarte aux Pommes is good but it isn’t quite the same as the one Maman Galmiche makes! When Daniel is at home the family cooks together; simple dishes, particularly fish, roast chicken and his wife, Claire, who is half Italian, makes a great spaghetti Bolognese.
Daniel’s book, The French Brasserie Cookbook, is a great read and I asked him what it was like to make it and then to get feedback about it after it was published. He said the feedback has been great and the whole point of it was to make something approachable and easy to use. The dishes are genuine but all have been lightened a little if they are traditionally heavy. What I learnt from Daniel is that there is always good food on the table in France. We both agreed that quality ingredients make better food. Sometimes they can be more expensive but generally you need less of it. It was really nice to spend some time with Daniel and learn a bit more about a place that I am very fortunate to have locally.