Welcome to my website. I am the author of ‘Vietnamese – Simple Vietnamese Food To Cook At Home’. I am a photographer and film maker. You can book into my supper club, Vietnamese cooking classes, buy my book, check out my photography and lots more here.
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The other day, my friend, Ben is telling me how hugging trees makes you grow roots. At first, I laughed at him, or rather – at it –rolling my eyes! I am not so much of a new age hipster, I don’t want to hug trees!
Ben says that if we would just hug a tree, something that is deeply rooted, we could perhaps find our own roots and start to see how we could grow and become stronger. If we could just do something out of the ordinary like hugging a tree, we could perhaps be more daring and loose in our own lives as being rooted means we know who we are and where we belong. I’ve yet to go to the forest. I am not too sure about this…
Interestingly enough, Wild Card PR invited me once again to another event which I was quite happy about. I get picked up and I get to go to “Food At 52” which is a cookery school in a charming townhouse on a scenic Clerkenwell street run in a home of John Benbow. He does it about 3 or 4 times a week – 12 people come, he teaches them how to cook stuff and they all sit down and eat it together.
It was very intriguing to go into someone’s home – sneaking a preview at their photos and their books and characteristic furnishings. You can immediately feel that this John guy is an interesting and cultured personality anyone would wish to be sat with at a dinner table.
I get introduced to Guy Tullberg who produces ‘Tracklements.’ He is the whole reason we are there, and all this roots business will become much clearer.
I had never heard of ‘Tracklements’ before, “Tracklements Condiments” it kept spinning in my head, tracklements-condiments-tracklements-condiments – really fast over and over in some sort of mental self amusement. (I had a lot to drink the night before).
Condiments just made me crave for a hot dog! But after I had a glass of prosecco and Guy introduced us to his father’s creation of ‘Tracklements’ (it’s an old English word for ‘meat accompaniments’), I soon became aware of all the roots that Guy has grown. I have not grown up with a father so I was extremely fascinated.
40 years ago, Guy’s father, William Tulberg read a passage, which inspired a lifetime’s work, “Mustard, especially in young seedling plants, is of incomparable effect to quicken and revive the spirits…” At that time, there was no wholegrain mustard commercially made so William decided to make his own. From one moment in time, William changed his life, and created a business that would define their family for years to come.
How truly inspiring, that from a pot of mustard, William and now his son has 54 different relishes, chutneys, mustards, jellies and sauces. I imagined Guy as a little boy working with his father in the English countryside, wearing a tweed hat and puffy trousers with braces helping his father fill up jars and helping him sell stuff at a market on a Saturday morning. Hand spooning passer bys with testers to try. In a way, he is still doing much of the same today…
We got to try some with crackers and toast breads – it was really good. Now I don’t know what I have been doing buying supermarket and branded condiments when ‘Tracklements’ had been there before I was even born. My favourite is the Chilli Jelly, the Sweet Mustard and Caramelised Red Onion Relish.
We soon went into Food At 52’s kitchen – all ingredients weighed out and prepped for us to use – it was a bit like being on telly (not that we have been) – everything out on little pots and all you have to do is pour them in and mix. It was quite amusing to be in class and me getting it all wrong and copying what someone next to me is doing.
We got to make prawn curry and they supplied us with lovely prawns and used the Tracklements curry sauce – it was really good – I wouldn’t blog about it if I thought it was not – I mean, cooking has changed so much for us – for me more than Simon who loves cooking no matter what – I tend to stay away from cooking if I can and getting one of these curry pots is what I usually get. I don’t always like to cook after working all day long unless it’s a quick, sharp and no fuss ordeal.
For a quick meal, I love using pre made curry sauces and I am always on the look out for good ones – just because I am a foodie – it doesn’t mean I have time or have the want to cook everything from scratch on a Tuesday! I found one here. They are like plain, timeless dresses that you can jazz up with some high heels and a lovely handbag. Throw what you want in, whats left in the fridge or what you fancy and voila –
We also got to make scones and cheesy filo pastries whilst Guy chatted to us. I really liked him a lot – he didn’t appear to be like a corporate with dollar signs in his eyes. He truly has so much passion for what his father created as well as being very fond and loving towards him. His words about his father – who still works for the company are mainly jokes that he is at the pub- sort of thing.
This is something I know so little of that when I see it, it makes me all warm inside – that fathers exist for some people, or actually most people.
Fathers like these are like your ‘tree’, they are rooted strongly to the ground, growing armfuls of branches and greens and blossoms; sheltering you from shine and rain, being strong and setting a good example for you to follow if you wanted to.
Guy talked about how he employs long standing people who had been there from the beginning and how their work ethos is more about family than corporation. Turning small batches into bigger productions to cope with the market demands and how we shop and cook these days. What a wonderful success story – and what wonderful condiments too. From a small family business to a national brand. Great food.
Long live Tracklements – hope you will all get to enjoy it too. My hot dogs are now exceedingly good. I bought a pack straight away and got stuck in with Simon!