Slow Food Oxon update - December 2007


Dear Slow Food Oxon Members:

There are some (good and sad) news that I would like to share with you before we all close our offices, agendas and computers and head off for a well deserved break.

From Fiona Richmond, SF UK: It is with great regret and deep sadness that I am writing to share the news that Sarah Freeman died on Saturday, in London, following a period of deteriorating health.

Many of you will have known Sarah personally through her long-standing involvement as a Slow Food London member and Chair of the Ark Commission, or through her writing, both in Slow and Snail Mail, and as a food historian and widely-published author. Sarah’s most recent, and last, piece for Slow can be found in Issue 3/2007, page 86.

Sarah wrote recipes which her publisher, Anne Dolamore of Grub Street, was always declaring a model of how these things should be done. She was a particular authority on cheese.

Sarah always preserved a highly individual voice and style. Indeed, her last book the recently published Borough Market Cookbook: Meat and Fish, is a perfect illustration of this, particularly the producer introductions – she visited them all on home territory and captured what was unique and fascinating about each.

Slow Food Oxon on Radio: tune in to BBC Oxford on 8 January 2008, 10:30am. Danny Cox will be asking me all about Slow Food, about our Convivium and what it is to happen on 9 January. I am happy that our website “does work” and this is how they found us and learned about our event coming up on 9 January.

Speaking of which, if you would like to attend the Chinese Banquet on 9 January at The Opium Café in Oxford, please sign up with Tina at‏. Tina will then email you details about the cost, etc. This event is part of our new Restaurant Review initiative and we would like to welcome more members into it. Come to the event to find out more.

I am also happy to invite you to a tutored tasting of Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky on Friday, 1 February, 5:30 pm – 8pm, in Oxford, please mark this day in your Agendas.

The Balvenie prides itself on its hand crafted nature ( and have organized a similar tasting with Slow Food Edinburgh. Donald Reid, SF Edinburgh Convivium Leader says: Balvenie is particularly interesting as it's a relatively small scale distillery and, uniquely on the mainland of Scotland, every aspect of the production process, from growing and malting the barley to the coopering of the casks, takes place to some degree in the making of it. Balvenie's sponsorship of the Artisan awards does indicated that they retain an interest in the wider concerns of retaining craftsmanship”

So, come along on a cold February evening and warm yourself up with the drink, UK should be proud of. The tasting is completely free, and you may also bring a friend as well (sign up at

The only “catch” in all this is that before the tasting starts at 6:30pm, we will be presenting you with our 2007 report, so yes, it is going to be our AGM, this time – followed by a tasting. You do not have to absolutely come for the AGM part, but obviously all our Committee Members will appreciate your presence and support for what we have done in 2007.

All the necessary paperwork (accounts, Nomination forms) will be emailed to you in advance, according to the Regulations. We will be inviting members to join our Committee and please come forward if you think you would like to get more involved with Slow Food Oxon.

It is also going to be my last AGM as Convivium Leader, as I will be presenting my resignation at our next Committee meeting on 17 January, so all members are invited to consider Leadership. There is no other reason for me to resign, than offering somebody else to try it out and possibly – offer a fresh breath and direction to the Convivium. Carlo Petrini said at the last Congress “a sign of a good leader is to take a step back and make way for others.” And this is exactly what I intend to do.

Needless to say, if no one applies for this position, I shall stay as long as it takes, however I am sure that in the last 4 years we have nurtured some very inspirational and capable potential Leaders.

Besides, for better or for worse, I had applied and have now been accepted as one of the SF UK Directors, and hope that I shall be able to take the best of SF Oxon experiences to the National level. So, from now on, if you have any wishes or concerns, you can count on your “own Ambassador at SF UK” .

Also, having launched, with your support, a new Convivium in Moldova, I hope to find more time in the near future (??!!) to help develop the Convivium. I am going to be back in Moldova after Christmas and will be working on an exchange trip for the next summer.

It has been a fantastic adventure, launching and working in this Convivium! I am not saying Good Bye at all, I shall see you all again and again at our events in the future!

Oh, speaking of future events, sorry for my bit of nagging, but have you sent in your Questionnaire? It is now posted on our website, it is really easy to fill in, and we really need your ideas and suggestions, so please send them in before 17 January when we shall meet with the Committee and draft our 2008 Plan. Thank you beforehand for your cooperation!

I may see some of you on Saturday, at the Slow Food Christmas Market in London at the Royal Festival Hall. I shall be volunteering there, offering Oxfordshire’s heritage apples for tasting. And if I don’t see you this year, then I am sure we’ll meet in the New 2008 Year.

I would also like to wish you again a very Happy Holiday Season. Eat Slowly and plenty and think of those who may not be as blessed as we are this Christmas.