9/10. One unwritten rule at Blanchflower is that there is no “Perfect 10”. It doesn’t stop us trying though.
Crafting anything, whether that is bread, bacon or a chair is to search for that illusive thing we all crave, perfection. But like the end of the rainbow, a ‘Perfect 10’ is always going to be just out of reach. Perfection is a constantly moving target and one that keeps us pushing in our endless endeavour to get as close to it as often as possible. Which means we’re constantly tweaking, refining, tinkering and improving everything we do.
Right at the very beginning of the Blanchflower journey, Claire and Phil earned their Barista stripes from Prufrock Barista School in London. This was a geeky entry point into that world and teacher/Global Barista legend Jeremy Challander was about as high-up as they come. They were quickly taught that Baristas deal in tenths of grams and seconds. This gave them enough of an understanding about the science of flavour and extraction to know what was happening when tiny adjustments were made to grind and shot-time in pursuit of the elusive perfect shot.
This attention to detail turned out to be fine training not only when making coffee but for all the products we’ve crafted since. For example, Sourdough has its own set of challenges, particularly when we baked in Longford Park and were beholden to the relative warmth, or lack-of, as the seasons changed. In an effort to balance the dough, water and room temps to ensure consistency, each temperature was logged for reference. Thank goodness for the more consistent temperature in our cellar in Altrincham where we now house the levain overnight.
Bacon, cured salmon, beef and sausages all need to be approached individually. Cures need to be balanced to weight or you’ll have something a little too salty or under-cured. Curing meat is harder than making something like soup as you can’t taste it as you go along. You need to hone your experiences into instinct and listen to that voice that tells you what adjustments to make. But perhaps more than anything, you have to care.
So why do we care? Simple really. We want Blanchflower to be as close as possible to your perfect 10. A place where you experience some of the finest crafted food any time of the day from breakfast rolling through to dinner. And the bits in between. Which is why everyday we try and achieve ‘perfect’. Each plate, cup or glass matters. Yes, it’s geeky to weigh and taste every cordial that leaves the bar but if you do then you’ll never serve a bad one. Same thing when dressing a salad, same thing baking a tart, same thing serving you, same thing with everything.