I’m sure you’ve all come across the word kombucha. It’s a word that’s easy to say and rolls off the tongue easily but for me it doesn’t relate to what it is. Do you know what it is?
Essentially it’s tea. A fermented tea; a sweet tea that has undergone a completely natural biological process to convert much of the sugar into organic matter. The fermentation process is similar to making cider and it also gives kombucha that familiar effervescence or fizz or pop!
Left Field Kombucha is the newbie Scottish Kombucha making company based in the Scottish Borders, operational since 2016 and recognised last year by Scotland Food and Drink, a finalist in their Excellence awards, for their product.
As Kombucha gains popularity, so Leftfield Kombucha are branching out and recently teamed up with the wonderful Colstoun House to host a Wild Food, Raw Drink pairing event.
The menu was created by Alison Henderson from Colstoun House. Her challenge was to pair four very different kombuchas taking into account their different origins, characters and flavour profiles, to produce a four course menu that enhanced their flavours rather than opposing them.
The evening started off at the House with Canapes paired with the Kombucha No2 Sencha Green Tea.
This tea originates from Shizouka, Honshu, Japan and you’ll pick up hints of citrus yuzu. For Alison she wanted give a nod to it’s Japanese roots and decided that sushi with its clean simplicity would truly enhance the citrus in the Kombucha.
Most of the ingredients were foraged and growing wild in the Colstoun gardens. Each sushi consisted of Nori seaweed wrapped around sushi rice, dressed with their own wild garlic sushi vinegar with three various fillings :
- Beetroot and North Berwick Gin cured Gravlax paired with Saltmarsh foragables of Sea Arrowgrass, Marsh Samphire and Sea Aster.
- Cucumber from the Walled Garden with Wild Garlic and pickled Magnolia petals.
- Homepickled Beetroot with Sweet Cicely.
Each course was in a different venue at Colstoun House so we made our way out in the rain towards the amazing Polytunnel. A stunning venue in the Walled Garden, set up to accommodate approx 60 people, this long dining table was dressed to impress.
Chefs firing up the barbecue in the rain.
The homemade bread – Rye, White yeast and Brown yeast was served with smoked butter and we couldn’t get enough of it.
Starters was Kombucha No3 Oolong paired with fresh Mackerel.
The Oolong Kombucha is from Nantou, Taiwan and it’s delicate and floral. You’ll pick up Elderflower and is a very easy replacement for a glass of Prosecco.
Alison wanted to pick up on the notes of gooseberry and elderflower and balance out the acidity with fresh caught, pan fried mackerel served with garden gooseberries two ways…pickled pink goosegogs and fresh and crunchy green ones, Nasturtium capers, leaves and flowers for a bit of peppery heat and a splash of colour.
It worked. A very clean plate of food and a great pairing.
The vegetarian starter of roasted garden beets with ginger, nasturtium capers, seeds and pine nuts.
With a gap in the rain (it stopped raining for about 15 minutes) we made a mad dash to the Coach House, a converted barn with another large table set with candelebra and foliage from the garden. Quite a magical setting even on this dreich day.
For Mains the Kombucha was my favourite and the one I first tried, the No1 Yunnan Black. This tea is from Yunnan, China and it’s earthy and smoky. Utterly delicious.
Alison wanted to play up the smokiness and her thoughts ran along the lines of a light meat…pork…smoky…outdoor cooking…outdoor eating….instead of a beer or a cider…
And so it was paired with the Shoulder of Pork, long marinated in Yunnan Kombucha and a touch of cider, windfall early apples from the orchard with sage, lavender and the sweetness of foraged birch sap reduced to a syrup, then slow cooked until falling apart. Wow!
Vegetarian course was smoked and pulled, roast aubergine with pickled redcurrants.
Foraged green salad leaves with a wild garlic vinaigrette.
Red cabbage and raw beetroot, dried apricots and sultanas with and elderberry vinegar dressing
Hay baked Ayrshire new potatoes adding that smokey note
And lastly we made our way back to the beginning and finished where we started, in The House but upstairs in the Indian Room.
Dessert was paired with the No4 Darjeeling Kombucha from Darjeeling India. My second favourite as I loved the rose petal aromas coming from the muscat grapes characteristics of this tea.
Even in the rain, the Colstoun gardens are splendid.
Colstoun House is one of the most stunning venues in East Lothian and a perfect partner to have teamed up with to host this very special pairing event. This was the first Kombucha pairing event and I am sure it won’t be the last.
The food was bright, colourful, tasty, fresh with superb flavour combinations; but also knowing that all the food was either locally sourced or grown right in the garden, makes for a more enjoyable and appreciative meal. I left knowing that Kombucha isn’t just a drink I can have when I’m out and the designated driver, but I can pair it with really good, simple food at home.
Thank you for a brilliant evening.
For more info on Leftfield Kombucha and Colstoun House, see their links below.