The Northgate’s head chef Greig Young takes us to meet one of his local suppliers, chocolate maker Tosier
I am so happy it’s getting a bit more like summer! I am not sure about you, but that felt like the longest, wettest winter. Cooking is easier when it is a bit hotter if you ask me. Barbecues come out, more salads on menus, less starch and just generally fresher food.
I have some lovely new salads on the menu at The Northgate this week. I mixed it up this year, no boring mixed leaf salads or, dare I say, the dreaded Caesar. I am torn to choose my favourite, but it’s definitely between the rare roast beef salad with violet artichokes and confit potatoes topped with some bitter endive tossed in a elderflower and horseradish vinaigrette or the duck salad with braised beets, smoked peach, mozzarella and lavender salted almonds. Maybe ill try a vegetarian one. I guess I got a bit excited.
This month, and over the next few, I am going to change it up a little – instead of a recipe and a little story, I have decided to visit some of the region’s best producers and suppliers and show you what is out there and the people I am lucky enough to work with.
Throughout my whole cooking journey the most important lesson I have learned is that the best chefs buy and source the best products they can, handled by the best people and generally serve it at the right temperature and the right amount of Maldon salt, butter and a good helping of sauce.
This month I was lucky enough to take the team on a guided tour of a product that hasn’t left the menu at The Northgate since I first tasted it. Tosier chocolate. It is incredible. Deanna Tilson is a master. I was blown away by her attention to detail, clarity in flavours and all-round commitment to making their chocolate as pure and as honest as possible with nothing left to chance or any corners being cut to save time or a penny.
Every bean gets hand sorted and inspected, and is roasted in a small oven to maintain control as each origin of bean has a different roasting time and temperature. Each variety is micro produced. Eight kilos are produced at a time being winnowed (big grinder for the cocoa nibs) for 60 hours and then left to mature for 30 days before being tempered into bars for hand finishing and packing.
I was amazed by the length of the actual process and the accuracy in temperature needed at each stage. I believe this is what really sets this chocolate apart from all the others.
Tosier is very much a small family business and each member plays their part harmoniously. I usually deal with Jonathan for all my ordering, delivering, product knowledge and everything in between. On our visit, we were guided round the factory by their son Emile. A true talent and a good laugh, myself and the team shared some great ideas of things we can try at The Northgate, including using a by-product of chocolate-making for smoking part of a dessert and different ways of storing chocolate to maximize the flavour. I was genuinely blown away.
Now the chocolate. Each bar is single origin. What does that mean? I was not sure, and I didn’t really understand how different the beans would be and the detail that went into the process of making bean to bar artisan chocolate. The beans that are sourced from Belize create chocolate that sings notes of honey, pineapple and raisins, whereas the Columbian beans make a more buttery and slightly acidic chocolate with dark caramel notes, and the bar using the beans from Ghana is blended with toasted buckwheat adding the creamiest finish to the bar and keeping all the chocolate vegan friendly.
I could go on all day about our trip and the interesting flavours you can pick out from real chocolate, but the best thing you can do is try it. Pick up a bar, order it on their website or come and try it in one of our desserts at The Northgate, paired with smoked coconut sorbet, espresso, and some crispy wild rice.
This month I am visiting Kit, the most caring sheep farmer I have met, rearing the happiest sheep and lambs just near Nowton Park, and I cannot wait to share my recipe for slow-cooked lamb shoulder with black garlic and rosemary.
If you have a great product you want to shout about, I would love to visit you too, so please let me know and contact me direct at The Northgate, Bury St Edmunds.
Enjoy the sunshine.
Greig Young is head chef at The Northgate, Northgate Street, Bury St Edmunds
Call 01284 339604