Created with flair, and eaten with gusto

PUBLISHED: 11:06 08 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:02 20 February 2013

CHOCOL Chocolate Tort by Kate Howe

CHOCOL Chocolate Tort by Kate Howe

Fisherton Mill is a place that brings people together and nowhere has artistic flair tasted so delicious! Laura Grice extols the virtues of an icon of Salisbury's artistic quarter and a collaboration between artist and chef.

Nestled behind one of the main streets leading to the city of Salisbury's historic centre lies a converted 19th-century grain mill housing the South of England's largest independent art gallery, Fisherton Mill. On entering the atmospheric space, the eye is assailed not only by the stunning architectural remains of the Mill's former life, but also by a dazzling array of visual art by leading artists, sculptors and furniture makers.

A few minutes inside Fisherton Mill and it becomes clear that sight is not the only sense to be awakened as delicious aromas emanate from the lively Gallery Caf space packed full of shoppers, tourists and regulars ensconced in cosy corners and deeply immersed in the daily press.

At its heart, Fisherton Mill is a place that brings people together, either through its mini artistic community with 'creatives' busying away in the first-floor studio spaces, friends admiring the artwork on display, or the lunches brought to the table which themselves display as much artistic flair and aesthetic nuance as the exhibits.

It is this creativity and energy that is responsible for Gallery Caf's long-standing reputation as one of the best eateries in Salisbury. Michael Fox, patron of Fisherton Mill, along with wife, Deborah, has been running the caf since 1995, and its popularity grows year on year. Michael's fresh, Mediterranean-influenced menu is constantly evolving and demand for Fisherton Mill 'staples' such as a melt-in-the-mouth carrot cake and real lemonade ensures that customers are always trying to persuade Michael to reveal his recipes. It was for this reason that Fisherton Mill's latest project, a stunning cookbook capturing both the culinary and creative merits of the Mill, was developed.

The dishes featured in A Cook and a Painter are from a selection of inspiring main courses, soups, salads and puddings served in the Gallery Caf during the day or at the popular Dining Club evenings. Michael explains: "For many years customers have been asking me to produce a cookbook but I resisted, feeling that the market was saturated," It took a very special collaboration, in the form of one of the Mill's resident artists, Kate Lowe, to persuade him to change his mind.

"During my time working in my upstairs studio," Kate says, "I became captivated by the aromas wafting up from the caf below, and so when Michael asked me to work with him on creating some illustrations for the caf's menu, I jumped at the chance."

Kate's work grew into a collection of bold and striking paintings, later developing into the production of beautiful pen and ink drawings. Michael's creative streak was thus stimulated and he, in turn, came up with some delicious new recipes to complement Kate's artwork, producing, as Michael puts it, "a truly organic collaboration which we felt would make a fabulously unique cookbook".

The end result is a triumph; a really usable cookbook packed full of beautiful illustrations and simple yet imaginative recipes that cry out to be cooked. Above all, A Cook and A Painter embodies the creative spirit of Fisherton Mill, where artistic flair has never tasted so delicious!

Recipes

Red pepper tart with goats' cheese and basil

200g puff pastry

2 red peppers

1 onion

2 gloves garlic

Fresh basil

4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped

4 thick slices goats' cheese

1 Roll out the pastry thinly. Cut into 4 discs and prick with a fork or docker.

2 Bake in a hot oven until golden brown.

3 Slice the onion and fry gently. Finely chop the garlic and slice the peppers and add to the onion when it has started to soften and take a little colour. Cook for 5-10 minutes.

4 Add the tomatoes and continue to cook until they break down to make a sauce. Chop the basil and stir in.

5 Top the pastry bases with the tomato/pepper mixture and place the goats' cheese on top.

6 Return to the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes.

Chocolate raspberry tarts

Sweet pastry tart cases, baked blind

500ml double cream

500g dark chocolate

Fresh raspberries

Cocoa powder

1 Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil.

2 Remove from the heat. Chop the chocolate into pieces and add to the hot cream. Stir gently until smooth.

3 Scatter some raspberries into the pastry cases and pour in the chocolate. Allow to set.

4 Dust the top of the chocolate tarts with cocoa.

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