Orlando Gough.

A wild pig lives for up to 25 years.

A domestic pig lives for 10-15 years.

A pig slaughtered for its meat lives for about 6 months.

One Pig

The excellent dj and composer Matthew Herbert made a piece recently which consisted entirely of the sounds of a pig, raised for slaughter, which he had recorded intermittently throughout its short life. These sounds were transformed and played by a band of musicians who triggered the sounds from various instruments, including the Sty Harp. This beautiful machine, invented by Yann Seznec, looks actually more like a boxing ring than a sty, with posts at four corners, and a pair of horizontal wires forming the perimeter. The sounds are triggered by pulling on the wires, the speed and direction of the pull affecting the pitch and timbre of the sound. It’s made out of customised Gametraks, a failed pro-motion controller which became obsolete about ten minutes after it was invented in 2003…


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by TOAST ( 01.08.13 )

The Ethicurean, a kitchen garden restaurant just outside Bristol, was founded in 2010 by four friends and passionate food enthusiasts - brothers and self-taught chefs Matthew and Ian Pennington with Paula Zarate and Jack Adair-Bevan. Housed within the walled garden of a hillside Georgian estate and overlooking the Mendip Hills, The Ethicurean was awarded Best Ethical Restaurant in the Observer Food Monthly Awards in 2011 and a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand earlier this year. The Ethicurean Cookbook (Ebury Press), telling the story of a year in their Somerset kitchen, is out now. We caught up with Matthew, Ian, Paula and Jack to find out more about The Ethicurean’s sustainable and seasonal values, their journey so far, and what makes a good pudding…

From farmers’ markets to an award-winning restaurant and cookbook. Such a leap! Tell us about the journey…

Since The Ethicurean’s creation, we have been responsible for a series of eccentric events and pop-ups, from a Mexican yurt on the Brecon hillside to a BBQ from the back of an old ambulance on the Mongol Rally launch. We began as a market stall and made our famous cakes for The Canteen in Stokes Croft, Bristol. Over the years we worked with The Adventurists and Hendrick’s Gin, catering for afternoon tea as well as private viewings for art galleries, food festivals and fairs. We worked in all weathers across the country but Somerset was our home.

What does The Ethicurean stand for?

The Ethicurean is founded on a sense of place. This is the idea of having a connection with the native land, its history and the community who grow food locally upon it. Our family team seek to discover harmonious pairings between the ingredients that surround the walled garden. We strive to look for alternatives to imported fresh produce and constantly look as close to our home for the best ingredients which are often foraged or shot a stones throw from our walls or grown within. Mark Cox is the gardener at Barley Wood. He is a one-man band with an incredible passion for heritage and heirloom vegetables. We are re-working and re-imagining the existing traditions of drink making. Our bar is alive with experimentation. There is a strong synergy between kitchen and bar. Sharing our knowledge of flavours and recipes, swapping our ingredients, expanding our drinks into our dishes and back into our drinks. Embracing the limitations of nature has, for us, spurred unbounding creativity…


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by TOAST ( 30.07.13 )

Hall Newbegin.

When I started out, it broke my heart to see what passed for fragrance. All those fancy, tiny bottles filled with manipulated petroleum – yuck. I wanted to make fragrances that smelled like the places I knew and loved as a lifelong backpacker and hiker. Nothing smells better than the sage-covered mountains of Big Sur, or wildflower meadows along Mt. Hood’s Timberline Trail at the height of alpine summer – that’s real fragrance.

People think of fragrance as being a shallow experience that just happens in our nose. It’s so much richer than that. Smell is the oldest of our senses. It by-passes reason and goes straight to the ancient parts of our brains – right to our emotions. Until really very recently in our evolutionary history, we depended on our sense of smell (and on wild plants) for our day-to-day survival. So it’s no surprise that we have deep faculties for interacting with nature through our noses, even if those faculties are laying dormant inside of us.

Real, place-based fragrance – the kind that comes from plants, trees, moss, and bark – rearranges your insides, it brings up emotions, transports you to the stillness of the outdoors. You can’t buy our materials or ingredients anywhere because nobody else does what we do, no-one works with the plants we work with. I’d never substitute European sage oil for our local wild sages because they smell completely different. The only way to capture Big Sur in a bottle is to go there, put your hiking boots on, collect plants, and make it yourself. We wildcraft our ingredients, which means we travel to our favourite wilderness areas, harvest plants there and distill them into fragrances. Sometimes we even distill the fragrance on the road in our converted whiskey still. No-one else in the world is making fragrance this way and probably for good reason – it’s a questionable business model.

We’re the world’s only wild fragrance company. We are the only company in the world harvesting, distilling and formulating natural fragrances. A hundred years ago, every perfume house in Paris made perfume this way. But when cheap, petroleum-based synthetic scents appeared in the 1960s, the perfume industry abandoned the techniques and ingredients they’d used for thousands of years and stopped making real fragrance. Our materials are everything to us. They’re not just important to our products, they are our products. We create our fragrances by spending months in the backcountry, drinking beer, crawling around like squirrels, smelling all the plants and dirt so we can bring you the real feel of the real place.

Juniper Ridge, founded by Hall Newbegin in 1998, makes 100% natural colognes and perfumes wildcrafted from real plants, bark, moss, mushrooms, tree pitch and other things found hiking the backcountry.

Buy Juniper Ridge soaps and colognes here.


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by TOAST ( 24.06.13 )

James Seaton.

It’s a relief to leave the intense heat of Kingston and head up into the mountains behind. The climb goes on and on, winding up precipitous, heavily wooded slopes – perilous falls below, the sharpest hairpin bends, the grind of high revving, low gear engines. Up over the southern slopes, glimpses of the city and the blue sea far behind us, the high watershed ahead, fine rags of cloud streaming from the peaks. All is up and down, little shanty farmsteads scattered across the slopes, patches of grass and vegetable plots among the high trees. The air is cooler here but the sunlight persists, light and shade in vivid motion as the breeze sets the foliage dancing. And then, as we crest the ridge, the light… goes out. We seem to have suddenly arrived in an entirely other world, a grey-green one. We’re in thick, swirling, wind-driven mist so water-laden as to be barely distinguishable from rain. And it’s cold!

We’re in Blue Mountain coffee country. We feel our way tentatively through the cloud along the narrow lanes, stopping now and then to ask a machete-carrying farm worker for directions, until we arrive at the estate house. Outside, standing between two Land Rovers – one working and one quietly becoming a part of the landscape – is Percy, the friendly, intelligent and highly capable foreman who invites us in and offers us, of course, coffee.

The house is not grand but rather a small and appealing cottage. It’s built sturdily – sufficiently so to withstand the regular hurricanes as they accelerate up over the ridge – of hardwood boards washed white on the outside, left natural dark brown within. We enter the back of the cottage into a comfortable living room, a small kitchen to the left and, spanning the front of the two rooms, what is effectively an enclosed balcony, a long span of windows giving onto high views of the coffee plantation folded onto the valleys and faces of the slopes below. It’s a breathtaking sight – only occasionally and dramatically glimpsed as the mists deign to part.

At the back of the kitchen is a small, larder-like room containing two coffee roasters – small, beautifully kept machines, the two of them about the size of an Aga turned on its end, in which the estate’s entire production is roasted. These, along with two similarly sized husking machines – and the Land Rover – are the only machines on the estate. Everything else is done by hand, the slopes too steep to permit mechanical ingress, the work too precise and necessary of continuous, individual consideration. This is the Old Tavern Coffee Estate, familiarly known as Twyman’s (after the owners). To take a wine analogy – this is the Chateau Petrus or the Chateau Lafite of coffee. Though, of course, the huge abundance of dollars to be found in Bordeaux are not in evidence here. This is more a garagiste operation, run on passion, determination, obstinacy when necessary – and sheer, hands-on hard work.

We’re introduced to David Twyman – son of Alex and Dorothy, the founders – who now, with his widowed mother, runs the seventy-odd acres of the estate. He’s a calm, down-to-earth man with a wry sense of humour and a pair of strikingly blue eyes. His father arrived in Jamaica from London’s East End in 1958 and founded the estate ten years later. However, Alex wanted to sell Twyman’s produce as his own single estate coffee while the Jamaica Coffee Industry Board wanted to sell all Blue Mountain coffee as a single, generic product. A legal battle ensued during which Twyman’s were only able to sell their coffee to locals calling at the estate. After 29 long, hard years, in 1997, the estate won their battle – at considerable cost – and the family were able to sell the produce as their own, premium single estate coffee.

We drank quite a lot of coffee that morning, crowded into the small kitchen full of genial chat. And, yes, the coffee is the best we’ve ever tasted. We drank it black with a spoonful of honey. It has nothing of the blockbuster, milk-masked hit one might be more used to from coffee. It’s very subtle, fruity, almost delicate but – as we discovered, buzzing after three or four irresistibly delicious cups each – not in any way short of caffeine. It’s wonderfully delicious.

Twyman’s coffee can be bought here.

Photos by Nick Seaton, including David Twyman (in colour).


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by TOAST ( 17.06.13 )

The second of three Tales of the Wilderness, in anticipation of Wilderness Festival, where Toast will be curating the Lakeside Spa this August.

Extract from The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane.

Water – North

Listen now. Listen to the singing of the guga men on the bare rock of Sula Sgeir, hunched in a stone bothy on that little island far out in the North Atlantic, on an August morning nearly sixty years ago. If I could sing it or play it to you I would, but I cannot, so this will have to do. The scene: a rough hut, six feet high at its tallest, built out of blades of gneiss, its cracks plugged with rags. In its centre a peat fire, above which hangs a storm lantern that lends light to the space. Rough stone benches around the edges, on which the men are sitting, wearing tweed jackets and heavy wool jumpers. The mutter of the fire. The wind moving outside, testing the bothy. The singing begins. First comes the leader, his voice low and rich, incanting the verses of the day in Gaelic – ‘ach is e an gràdh as mò dhiubh so’, ‘and the greatest of these is charity’ – his voice dipping then rising at the end of each verse. The lesson ends. A pause. A cough to clear the throat. Then the leader offers a high line from a psalm, his voice gaining in volume: pure notes sung from the throat and chest. This is the ‘throwing’ of the line. The other men answer in song, the sound swelling to fill the bothy. Another line is thrown, followed, completed. Shades in the singing of cotton-field gospel, and hints too of the muezzin’s call. These are fire-songs of worship, consolation and comradeship: song as devotion and as stay against the storm. These are the guga men of Ness, the gannet hunters, singing in the Year of Our Lord 1953.

Extract courtesy of Penguin.

Purchase a copy of The Old Ways here.

Photograph by Gareth Jones.


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Untitled 4 (from his tabletop series) by Jochen Klein.


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by TOAST ( 17.05.13 )

Orlando Gough.

The highlight of our one and only trip to India was a hilarious, surreal, heart-warming visit to Fort Begu, a sprawling Gormenghast of a fort in the very south of Rajasthan, covered with peacocks, pigeons and pigeon poo. It had been partially restored by the Maharana, Rawat Sawai Hari Singh (M.Sc. Agron., ex-Minister, Rajasthan) and his son Ajay, to make a hotel. We were the only guests, and we were the epicentre of their epic hospitality. They showed us everything, told us everything, asked us everything. It was breathless – and breath-taking.

A memorably bizarre moment: we are in a huge unrestored wing of the fort, with a banyan tree growing through the walls; the Maharana orders up a bucket of water and a mug, chucks water casually at a plaster wall, and reveals some eye-wateringly frisky wall paintings. Religion and sex – there doesn’t seem to be much distinction round here. Another: we have ordered tea in our room, first thing in the morning. The two servants, Suresh and Deja (probably the most handsome man in the universe), tap on the door and bring it in. Two servants, one pot of tea. Wow. They are followed by the Maharana himself, who starts fiddling with the remote control for the air con, muttering ‘ Sixteen degrees, it’s got to be sixteen degrees, like England’. Another: as we are leaving, a protracted negotiation between the Maharana and Ajay about what kind of envelope the final bill should be put into. (They eventually settle on the fully crested version – very flattering.)

The Maharana has a gag of which he is understandably proud: ‘You conquered us with gunpowder; we conquered you with curry powder.’ On the face of it, this is unarguable…


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by TOAST ( 14.05.13 )

The Long Road. (A clue to our next catalogue location…)


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by TOAST ( 10.05.13 )

Seb Emina is the creator and editor of the London Review of Breakfasts blog, where he writes under the brilliant nom de plume of ‘Malcolm Eggs’. Reviews come in the form of poems, political musings and Freudian dreams, dispatched by Malcolm and a host of other contributors (all with equally ingenious aliases such as Tina Beans and Vita Bicks). Nobody knows breakfast quite as well as or is as passionate about the topic as Seb. Here, we present an extract and a recipe from his recently penned his debut book (co-written with himself), The Breakfast Bible:

TOAST

‘There is another kind of bread and butter usually eaten with tea, which is toasted by the fire and is incomparably good. This is called toast,’ wrote C. P. Moritz, a Swiss pastor, recounting a holiday to England in 1782. What’s surprising about the quote is that he seems to see toast as groundbreaking, when surely cooking bread until hot and crisp is blindingly obvious? Toast is one of the simple foods. This is why ‘toast and cereal’ are forever paired on breakfast menus in hotels, the ever-present footer with a slight air of flippancy. You can imagine a sarcastic hotelier adding, ‘and the rooms will contain beds and doors and stuff’.

When making a cooked breakfast, the simplicity of grilling bread shouldn’t be cause for complacence. Quite the opposite: toast can easily become an afterthought, and with grave consequences. For tragedy value, few things match the moment when toast arrives late, breathless, as the final bead of yolk is mopped up by that reluctant understudy, sausage. Or this: you’ve remembered to shoo it into the toaster and have removed it before it burns. Are you in the clear? No. At the very beginning, before you’d even started on the sausages, you failed to remove the butter from the fridge. Unscheduled minutes are lost as you scrape away despairingly with a knife, wondering where it all went so wrong in the world…


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by TOAST ( 10.05.13 )

Ski Jacket by Peter Doig.


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by TOAST ( 03.05.13 )
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