M and I had a day trip yesterday popping back to where she used to live and discovering one of her favourite places, which incidentally used to sell her cheese when she lived locally.

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Severn and Wye Smokery is located just west of Gloucester, sitting nonchalantly in the middle of the A48. It has a very unassuming frontage but clearly those in the know have sussed this place years ago and many, including M, have brought produce here to be smoked for them.The smokery operates in a traditional style using local wood and the product is handled very well to get that fine balance of depth of flavour into all that they do. They are well known for their smoked eel and of course smoked salmon, curing literally thousands each week and benefiting from the quality wild salmon in the local river Severn.

Severn & Wye fish counter featuring local Var salmon

Severn & Wye fish counter featuring local Var salmon

The shop itself is centred around a overly dominant counter that for me has too much going on, but clearly it is the fish counter and smoked fish that is the showcase. Here the displays are traditional and eye catching with fresh fish laid proud with a glint in their eye and a shine in their scales. All proof that it is fresh and wonderful.

A fish counter at San Sebastian's La Bretxa market show how much more can be added to displays with wooden boxes, oranges and bottles of wine to inspire

A fish counter at San Sebastian’s La Bretxa market show how much more can be added to displays with wooden boxes, oranges and bottles of wine to inspire

It made me think back to the fish counters I saw recently in San Sebastian and honestly, I think there are some lessons to be taken from there, but you can’t fault the quality and the freshness on display. It’s just that the Spanish understand how to make a piece of fish a meal, so they include things like lemons, oranges, samphire and even bottles of wine in their fish counters.

Keeping it open and real

Keeping it open and real

Back at Severn and Wye, little windows to the back show the teams working tirelessly to manage the volume of fish in production checking for bones etc. which may be a bit factory-esque but for me it was refreshing to keep everything open to the public and for us to see what it takes to make such a good product.

A showcase platter with signature smoked salmon and eel presented beautifully for lunch

A showcase platter with signature smoked salmon and eel presented beautifully for lunch

Clearly the fashion in smoking is not going anywhere fast. The process has been around for generations as a way of preserving all sorts of things but particularly meat & fish. Many classic dishes have centred around smoked fish ingredients and it was lovely to see these on the cafe menu including a signature kedgeree which is a favourite of mine. Smoked products used to be associated with the cheaper end of the market until clever chefs realised just how wonderful that deep smokey flavour was and how much it enhances dishes. The traditional US BBQ has always understood that smoking adds so much more and of course ingredients like chipotle has been used for generations in Mexico. Smoking is also a technique that the Scandinavians have long developed for all their wonderful fish and we had the most fabulous smoked prawns served simply in a paper bag when we were in Stockholm.

Simply delicious smoked prawns served at Pumpen, the casual eatery at Oaxen

Simply delicious smoked prawns served at Pumpen, the casual eatery at Oaxen

Now there are restaurants dedicated to all things smoked (see Etxebarri that I recently wrote about) including smoked butters, ice creams and smokey mash.

Even at home, there are more and more opportunities to play with both hot and cold smoking with some great domestic machines. Plus lots of different wood chips to meet your flavour preference. And if you are not yet up to it, then these bags are an easy cheats alternative.

However, yesterday, we left it to the experts and bought a few things back with us. Smoked salmon of course. Smoked ham. Smoked garlic. Today, that ham went on top of my favourite chicory recipe which has been previously featured in this blog. Lunch was a yummy dish with memories of a wonderful day out west. Thanks M.

Beautifully caramelised chicory to bring out the sweetness

Beautifully caramelised chicory to bring out the sweetness

 

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