45 minutes on a plane is almost too short to be worth writing about. As soon as you’re strapped into your seats, it’s time to unclasp. But 45 minutes is precisely how long it takes to fly to the Channel Island of Jersey from London.
Closer to France than the UK, Jersey is well known as a tax haven and more recently for its dairy and Jersey Royal potatoes.
I went to Jersey in August to meet Shaun Rankin, who had opened up his new restaurant Ormer just months earlier, and some of his suppliers. The restaurant has just gained its first Michelin star in the latest Great Britain and Island guide and it’s easy to see why.
Within about an hour of my flight landing at Jersey airport, I was on the beach raking for cockles with Louis Jackson from the Fresh Fish Company. The fresh cockles I’ve had in the past were tiny and those you find pickled in jars are no bigger. But Jersey cockles are the size of plums and in such wonderful abundance that within the hour, we had enough for about four people.
The cockles made it on to the lunch menu.
The other major part of the menu was foraged so I spent my afternoon back on the beach with Kazz Padidar, Shaun Rankin’s forager. As well as seaweeds, it seemed there was also plenty of peppery plants to be found on the land – even amongst the barren concrete of a coastal car park.
Rankin joined us for the foraging in between lunch and dinner service where he spoke a little about his island life and find roots and home on Jersey. He didn’t really need to of course because his involvement with various food projects around the island, including the launch of a hospitality apprenticeship, spoke volumes.
An overnight at the Royal Yacht Hotel was followed by a visit to Andrew Le Gallais’ dairy farm. Le Gallais is the Chairman on Jersey’s Milk Marketing Board and needless to say, he had plenty to say about milk and dairy markets. And it seems, AA Gill’s reviews in The Sunday Times.
And just as quick as I had arrived on Jersey, it was time to go. 45 minutes later, back in London smog. Jersey shore, a not too distant memory.