The Mark Gough Column

PUBLISHED: 16:25 16 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:25 20 February 2013

Mark Gough

Mark Gough

Warwickshire Life is delighted to welcome ITV Central's food & drink reporter Mark Gough to the magazine. Mark will be bringing us a regular flavour of the food & drink scene in the county starting this month with a tasty duck supper in As...

Warwickshire Life is delighted to welcome ITV Central's food & drink reporter Mark Gough to the magazine. Mark will be bringing us a regular flavour of the food & drink scene in the county starting this month with a tasty duck supper in Aston Cantlow and the juniper to go with it from Stratford.

Forget the credit crunch, the only crunch I've been interested in recently is the crunch of a mouthful of beautifully cooked duck confit at one of my favourite pubs - the King's Head at Aston Cantlow near Stratford-upon-Avon.

I know the economy's leaving us all with a nasty taste in the mouth with rising fuel prices and falling house prices, but what better way to get rid of that nasty taste than by indulging in the King's Head's famous duck supper? Go on, treat yourself. Two pieces of duck breast AND the leg confit served off the bone in a triangular patty. No messing with the bone. Wonderful. Every month they change how they present the confit.

The gaffer Pete Sadler tells me the duck supper dates back to rationing during the war. Apparently, if you raised your own livestock, it wasn't rationed. So the pub started raising ducks and geese. They were getting through 10,000 duck suppers a year - 200 a week. Wouldn't have paid to be a duck in Aston Cantlow in the '40s.

I had the great pleasure of filming there recently - and I was even invited into the kitchen to see my duck supper being prepared. Chef Richard Tress smiled throughout - I'm sure it had an effect on the taste.

Mind you, what could go wrong, sat in the beer garden in the sunshine, with a view of St John the Baptist next door where Mr and Mrs Shakespeare got hitched before they had young William? Rumour has it the pub put on a lovely spread for the wedding breakfast. I don't think this is documented anywhere but I don't care. It's lovely to think that it's true.

Now, as I'm sure you all know, the important ingredient in duck confit is juniper berries. Can't find them for love nor money? Well, Warwickshire is such a foodie heaven they're on our doorstep. Andrew Pester at Fox's Spices in Stratford-upon-Avon is continuing that marvellous tradition started by his parents who set up the company years ago to source spices from around the world. Juniper berries are just one of more than 500 spices he stocks. Go there - you can buy direct from him on the Mason's Road industrial estate. But be prepared for an assault on your senses. The smell is fantastic. Ask to see his cinnamon sticks too - three foot tall!

Finally some Michelin star news. Those of you fortunate to have dined at Edmunds in Henley in Arden may have mourned its passing a couple of years ago. Well I'm happy to report that chef Andy Waters, who got a Michelin star firstly at Simpson's in Kenilworth before it moved to Birmingham, and then on his own at Edmunds has re-opened - not in Warwickshire but in Brindley Place in Birmingham. My sources tell me Mr Michelin has already visited the new Edmunds. We await his verdict. Get in there quick before the crowds.

Mark Gough reports on the food & drink scene in the Midlands for ITV Tonight. ITV Central is the sponsor company for the Warwickshire Life Food & Drink Awards to be held at Warwick Castle on Thursday October 2nd.

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