Sarah Irwin introduces us to the wilds of Walthamstow and the meadows and marshes that inspire her botanic ice creams.
“IT is a very special place for wild life as it is in-between the marshes and the forest” is how Sarah Irwin describes Walthamstow, north-east London. "I use a lot of flowers and leaves in what I do and there is an amazing wealth of ingredients here to stumble upon. I like the idea that I share the environment with the things that I am cooking with.”
Since launching Osinsky Ice Cream two years ago, Sarah has created flavours that pay homage to the romantic and magical world of botanicals. Field camomile, blackcurrant leaves, lemon balm, cobnuts, rowan and sloe berries find their way into her forager’s basket. “I feel absolutely that smell and taste, vision and touch are all so connected. If I am walking along the pavement and see a privet hedge, I'll pick some to squash between my fingers. It has the most incredible scent of pears.”
Growing up in Oxford in a house built on what was once part of the University’s orchard, Sarah’s interest in edible wild food was fostered early. “In the garden there were apple, plum, quince, cherry and pear trees, lots of berries and different herbs. So as children we would go into the garden and pick everything that was in season like wild strawberries, raspberries and currants and then squash them all together and freeze them in cupcake cases, like little fruit lollies.“
Today, her favours are more refined, while retaining the whimsy of her childhood imaginings. Ask her about her range of ice creams and sorbets and she immediately shares that “chamomile ice-cream is my favourite; it is like being cuddled by sunshine. It is so warming and romantic.” Or her rose hip sorbet that she says has “a slightly medicinal taste - they don't taste as red as you would expect them to“. Other flavours have included bay leaf, sage marshmallow, elderflower and fromage blanc, and Walthamstow honey and sesame. She has even used honeysuckle and lilac, making floral syrups to be added to her ice-cream base.
IT'S been quite a while since we posted under the headline of weekend inspiration but you can hardly blame us for this return to our regular column when we spotted cocoa runners at Prufrock Coffee. Now Prufrock on Leather Lane is one of our all time favourite independent cafes. We have always admired their dedication to the dark arts with a line of coffee from local roasters Square Mile as well as special roasters like Five Elephant. Proving their credentials in assessing the fragrance, aroma, nose, and after-taste of coffee, we love their selection of independent chocolate. Now we're tasted Marou - the French chocolateurs specialising in single-estate chocolate grown in Vietnam as well as Rituals chocolate, that we discovered in San Francisco. However, this line-up of cocoa runners gives us a shopping list of new ones to try and the great thing ... they're done the sourcing for us. 23-25 Leather Ln, London EC1N 7TE