Curious About Real Bread
To celebrate Real Bread Week 2019, we headed to The Curious Kitchen to discuss dough and the local food community in Brixham with Head Chef, Ash Hamilton.
Back in 2008, the charity Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, and Andrew Whitley of Bread Matters, co-founded The Real Bread campaign. This is a movement to find better ways to make better bread for us, our communities and the planet. The campaign is an international celebration for bakeries, schools and community groups to bake and buy additive-free loaves. 2010 saw the launch of Real Bread Week with a mission to sandwich together independent bakeries with their communities to help share and gain baking skills from one another.
With that in mind, we headed to The Curious Kitchen in Brixham for a coffee and insight into how Head Chef, Ash Hamilton produces his dough. After meeting up with Ash last year for England’s Seafood Feast at MORE from The Curious Kitchen - their sister restaurant on Bolton Street - we learned that they bake most of their bread themselves.
“One of my favourite things in the world is baking bread. I can’t think of anything better; the smell, the taste, the satisfaction.” - Ash Hamilton, Head Chef, The Curious Kitchen.
The Curious Kitchen like to craft dishes that heighten the taste buds and overall experience. As a result, The Curious Kitchen aim to use fresh ingredients from local suppliers.
“It’s all about a reduction on our ‘food miles’, we like to know where everything comes from, and for it to travel as little as possible.” - Ash Hamilton, Head Chef, The Curious Kitchen.
The restaurant has become a staple in Brixham’s local food culture, which has resulted in less time for Ash to knead all the dough himself. To keep in theme with The Real Bread campaign and stay true to The Curious Kitchen ethos, they get fresh loaves from Dan, the local baker and Brixham neighbour at 5 Doors Up.
“Because we’ve got so busy, now we use 5 Doors Up; Dan, The Bearded Baker. He makes a lot of sourdoughs and specialty bread for us now. Again, keeps it close to home and he does a cracking job of it. I don’t think you’ll find a better baker in the area.” - Ash Hamilton, Head Chef The Curious Kitchen.
Brixham is hot on our foodie radar here at The Shorely right now, especially Middle Street. Ash has seen first hand how new independents are boosting Brixham and affecting the local food community.
“That community feel is why I look to buy from suppliers close by, we’re all independent businesses, and we should all look after each other. The more quality that Brixham has - and in recent years it’s gained a lot of quality - the better it is for everybody; because Brixham is at the end of the road, we’ve got to make sure people want to come here.” - Ash Hamilton, Head Chef, The Curious Kitchen.
As Ash cuts two slices from Dan’s iconic Brixham Black Bloomer, the conversation quickly moves back to the art behind producing sourdough.
“Sour Dough; it’s alive, it changes every time you use it, and you never get the same results. There’s perfection in the imperfection.” - Ash Hamilton, Head Chef The Curious Kitchen.
With the passion for his craft, it’s fair to say Ash is crazy about his dough; maybe he’s Doughnuts? Inevitably, we ended up on the conversations surrounding The Curious Kitchen’s iconic doughnuts.
“Every week, we whip up doughnuts fresh every Saturday and Sunday; we call it our doughnut weekends, and they sell out by midday generally. Doughnuts are the thing I get to play with the most, and I have a lot of fun with it.”
Ash takes doughnuts to a whole new level! From Jammie Dodgers to rhubarb and custard, these instagrammable doughnuts are pieces of art. Nearly too good to eat… nearly!
Just before we leave, Ash effortlessly showed us how to make fresh focaccia, to prove that real fresh bread is much better. As the loaf started to rise, the rich, sweet smell of rosemary and garlic thicken the air. The dough came out fluffy and delicious; the moreish, rich flavours proved to us that fresh, real bread is the way forward and we'll celebrate the rest of Real Bread Week in the same fashion.
Real Bread Week is being celebrated between 23 February to 3 March. Try some fresh dough… visit The Curious Kitchen, grab a beast BLT or a delicious donut. For more information about opening times, location and for a peek at the menu, visit The Curious Kitchen’s website.