February sees a new culinary coupling in our kitchen residency spot: Niki Astley and Georgiana Radenschi, formerly of the much lauded Two Cats Kitchen. Heading up foodie experience Salt & Earth, they both dropped in to give us a preview of the month ahead.
Q: Hi both, thanks for coming in. We’ve got a proper sense of intrigue with the enigmatically-named Salt & Earth. What’s it all about?
A: Salt & Earth is inspired by Peruvian-Japanese style influences, known as Nikkei, that I’ve always loved to cook. It’s a real collaboration between me and my partner, and all about a casual style of service, based around small dishes, in a really sociable environment. It’s always been our aim to move away from the formalities of a restaurant while delivering a product worthy of one.
Q: We’re loving the chilled, social vibes to the food. Is the pop-up nature key to its success?
A: I started my first business as a pop up. I think it’s a great way to see how people respond to your offering. Like the Beastie Boys said: Play to your friends and if they like it there’s a good chance others will too.
Q: You touched upon the South American and Asian influences to your dishes. Where do two West Midlands natives get the inspiration to experiment with such diverse cuisine?
A: When I was growing up, my hometown of Wolverhampton felt a bit stifling. It was going to places like New York, Morrocco, Tokyo and San Francisco that took my tastes in another trajectory entirely. I’m very influenced by Californian and Japanese Cuisine, particularly Kaiseki. It’s so hard to find restaurants that serve what you want to cook, so it’s easiest to open – and sometimes close! – your own. I’ve been doing this for sixteen years, and it suits me because you’re never done learning.
Q: After that long you must know a thing or two about flavours, so give us a taste of what’s to come this month.
A: You can expect clear, clean flavours with the right amounts of fat, acidity, chilli, salt & sweet, not to mention herbaceousness. We’re keeping the Latin America umph in complete balance with the Japanese subtlety.
Q: And in keeping with the harmonious theme, what are the two dishes that every person walking through our doors should sample?
A: I’d have to go for Lomo Saltado, a gorgeous Peruvian beef stir fry served with chips. Alongside I’d pick the Chicken Karaage, which I’d confidently call the best f**king fried chicken… ever!
Salt & Earth is at 1000 Trades through February, serving Monday – Saturday until 9pm, with some surprises along the way. Book a table in advance.