01 October 2019, 13:34 PM
  • The chef and proprietor of La Fosse champions local producers and retailers in Dorset
The Independent Shopper: Mark Hartstone

Purchasing for La Fosse at Cranborne Restaurant and Rooms is not easy. Requiring top quality and ethically sourced ingredients means a very short supply chain, more often than not directly from the producer. We aim to eliminate the need for high transport costs, which mean our suppliers are on our doorstep.

With just half a dozen tables we cannot order large volumes as freshness is key. For example, we work with Orchard Bay Bakery in Cranborne village to order a couple of loaves at a time. Working with the local baker and being flexible results in us receiving fresh loaves every day. It is a standing order that rarely changes in number and our daily menu means that the bread gets used whilst it is in prime condition. Knowing and understanding how ingredients work is vital. Even a basic ingredient such as bread needs juggling with how it is used, plus different types of bread vary. As a basic rule of thumb, bread that is initially hard to slice thinly when still warm has too high a moisture content for the first day to be used for toast easily, it’s 36 hours for perfect toast, 48 for croutons or puddings and older for breadcrumbs or panzanella.

Our cheesemaker The Book and Bucket is also in the village, so our orders can be dropped off before or after turning or brining the cheese. Having a cheeseboard with 10 cheeses on it requires careful managing, but having just one chef, rather than a brigade, means this is possible. With so many cheeses on our cheeseboard we only require retail-size cheeses which have a shorter shelf life. However, where there are exceptions such as aged cheese we buy locally again, for example an aged Gouda from Lyburn Farm in the New Forest is aged for up to two years and a whole wheel can be ordered as it lasts.

We use Meggy Moos next to Hambledon Hill for our lightly pasteurized unhomogenized milk. This is 30 minutes away but having deliveries the same day as the village shop, Cranborne Stores, means we piggyback on its delivery. Going a bit further afield means a better quality and ethically produced product. We have it delivered in a reusable tank that for us has eliminated the need for 1,000 single-use plastic bottles a year! We have glass milk bottles that we refill from the reusable tank for our breakfast buffet. The local gamekeeper stocks us with pigeon, rabbit, quails eggs and trout, and by being flexible these symbiotic relationships works. We understand that sometimes the trout just do not want to bite the fly, or that pigeons can one day be eating the farmer’s crop and the next day have moved on. Having the skill and versatility to use things when there is a glut is key, and traditional skills of smoking, brining and fermenting help with these supply issues. New Barn Farm is a local smallholding just three minutes down the road that has Boer Goat meat, which is a fantastic healthy alternative to lamb.

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