To learn a skill takes time and dedication, and enough love for what you’re doing to keep going when things are difficult, to learn what matters and what doesn’t, and the subtle distinction between good and great. It’s always enjoyable to try the products of new craft food producers; people who’ve laboured over their work, who don’t accept the fast and easy option, but know that by taking that extra time and care the result will be exceptional.
We have been greatly enjoying the The Craftsmen’s Dinner film series: a collection of six short films created by The Balvenie starring Michel Roux Jr as he travels around the country meeting exceptional craftsmen, who take time and pride in their excellence. In this day of so many things being mass produced it is both refreshing and reassuring to see people with such passion for their craft.
In the series Michel meets a knife maker, a potter, a sparkling wine producer an organic food producer and finally The Balvenie’s very own cooper or barrel maker, before ending with a dinner for all the craftsmen showcasing their products. This week he visits Hansen & Lydersen who produce artisan smoked salmon.
I love smoked fish, and we’ve been to enough smokeries to know that coming up with a product that’s above and beyond a wet, tasteless mush takes that dedication, but the results are really worth it. Good cold smoked salmon is such a treat; we really enjoy that richness and smoke that just tastes of craftsmanship. I know the basics of how it’s made: salt the fish for a few hours, then smoke at a cool temperature. And what I also love is that it can be enjoyed in so many ways: stirred into creamy scrambled eggs in the morning, on a toasted bagel with cream cheese at lunchtime or as an hors d’oeuvre on a small slice of rye bread, or blini for example, in the evening.
Smokiness can also be enjoyed in other ways: I like smoked duck breast, eel, and even smoked salt. and we’re lucky enough to be fairly frequent visitors to the Brown and Forrest smokery in Somerset who offer all of the above. But there’s also something to be said for specialisation, and simply producing one thing very well indeed. And only producing smoked salmon is what Hansen & Lydersen do. Until now, however, I hadn’t come across the concept of playing music to the fish, and while I’m not convinced by any scientific rationale, I completely believe that by being so enthused by smoking fish, the result will reflect that care and be exceptional. To watch the Hansen & Lydersen process and singing watch this wonderful video.
You can watch Michel’s journey and watch all six films on the Craftsmen’s Dinner on YouTube.
For a chance to win a dinner for two at Michel’s restaurant Le Gavroche enter below.
Win a luxury dinner at Michel Roux Jr’s restaurant, Le Gavroche
Post commissioned by The Balvenie, all opinions our own. Images supplied by The Balvenie.