Some might say there's no better way to end a day in the great outdoors than round the camp fire and we agree, but we can now top that after we were lucky enough to end a days adventuring and start an evenings feasting with one of the UK's top mixologists James Fowler. He showed us that there's one thing that adds some sparkle and that's with a coastal cobbler (aka the best wild cocktail in town!) to see off sundown...here's the man himself answering a few questions we just had to ask him....
F/A: Hi James can you give us a little intro about yourself & the business you run?
J: Hello!! I'm James, founder of The Larder House Restaurant & The Library cocktail bar in Southbourne, in Bournemouth. Straight to the point I’m food & drink…I have been in the industry for around 14 years and continually feel the need to understand food & drink better. I have my own restaurant as a platform to express mine & my teams attitude towards food & drink. Currently its rustic European, focusing on those special comfy restaurants you stumble across done side alleys and off the beaten track around Europe. We try to be a serious foodie hotspot, always showing new ideas and new ingredients.
F/A: We love to experiment with wild ingredients & often end up surprising ourselves (good & bad!) have you got any tales to tell of using ingredients that threw you a curveball?
J: I did a competition in Hong Kong which was rather interesting. From a strip European background walking around the wet markets of Hong Kong certainly was an eye opener. I was tasked with designing a drink to match a dish cooked by Jason Atherton. With only Eastern ingredients & my personal palate available, luckily I delivered on the day & won. I guess in relation to the question my food journey has given me a wide appreciation of most flavours so piecing together drinks is a lot easier than it could be..
F/A: Dorset is our playground and we love how it provides us with so many rich and diverse environments to explore, what does working and playing in Dorset offer you?
J: Born and bred a Dorset boy to this day Dorset continues to offer me interest & discovery of new products. Most recently the seated foraging day with yourself (Fore Adventure), it really shows that there's flavours on all journeys. Dorset is luckily for me an untapped source of flavour & creativity inspiration.
F/A: You recently joined our table of like minded souls to enjoy one of our foraged feast. Can you describe to us your ideal way to enjoy an evening?
J: Exactly that _ I thrive on being around palates & lovers of food & drink. Often to the “too much” level its all i think about and I can still learn so much. I do love relaxed evenings with a few special drinks and well sourced foods - I’m a cheese man.
F/A: A game changer for us is pickling & preserving so we can extend the seasons goodies, how do you incorporate these long standing skills or any others you use into making top tipples?
J: Pickling is a great way of adding a key component of cocktails with is “Sour” or acidity. There's a great array of vinegars & pickles out there which work so well to balance out creative concoctions. I love the refreshing & cleansing abilities of pickles - especially in aperitif drinks.
F/A: We discover new wild edibles by searching our surroundings and learning to identify unfamiliar plants as much as we can, what has been a new discovery of yours and how did you stumble across it?
J: A touch accessible on the foodie scene but I just realised for the last two years that I have been walking daily past a great abundance of rock samphire. Next years season I will be in a good palace!! Luckily I have a fair bit of flavour extracting gizmos at my bar so I'm very keen to play a lot more with different seaweeds. Varying tinctures aka seaweed bitters will no doubt feature in my future cocktail lists.
If you want to see some of James Fowlers mixology magic head on over to the Larder house in Southbourne and give our foraged feast blog a read to see the wild cocktails James stirred us up to wet your whistle before you go!
*Kudos to the VERY talented Marte Marie Forsberg for these wonderful images from our summer foraged feast.