Food and Drink October 12, 2011
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Clifford - a love of Cambridgeshire

My dream was always to help put Cambridge on the culinary map and to have the opportunity to cook my own food in my own premises. I spent the first 12 years of my training and career in some of the best restaurants in the UK and France, and took over at Midsummer House in August 1998, which is when my creativity and passion began to shine. We achieved the first Michelin star in 2001, an accolade which Cambridge had never before had – a second followed in 2005.

Midsummer House is a completely unique building which looks quaint from the outside, but once you enter, you realise how large it is. I fell in love with it the moment I walked inside. Thanks to its fantastic location and the uniqueness of the building, it really was love at first sight. This affection extends to the county of Cambridgeshire as a whole. Known throughout the world as a centre of academic excellence, it is no wonder that the Cambridge palate has become refined and demanding. As such, Cambridgeshire offers a wealth of exciting eating-out opportunities, from the world cuisine of Mill Road and excellent country pubs, to the fine-dining experience offered in my own restaurant. This is a place with beautiful countryside, orchards brimming with delicious varieties of apple and plum, a bustling city life, plenty of wildlife and punting fun offered by the picturesque River Cam, not to mention a buzzing foodie scene, involving everything from your local pub and fantastic events such as the Cambridge Food, Garden and Produce Festival, to the farmers’ markets that take place regularly across the county. At the Huntington farmers’ market everything available to purchase is produced within 30 miles of the town, while at Ely’s market you can purchase produce ranging from the finest organic vegetables to unusual meat such as ostrich. These markets encourage people to experiment with new foods and widen their cooking experience.

Because food is constantly evolving, at Midsummer House we work very closely with all of our suppliers both locally and nationally to buy the best ingredients and cook them with the greatest of care to retain their natural form and flavour. We use new cooking techniques, but our repertoire and thought process is still firmly rooted in the classical combinations. I am a family man and have five daughters – Shannon, Fay, Saffran, Lilly and April. I am extremely lucky that my children enjoy food and help out when they can, enabling me to spend as much time with them as possible. They even know how to make bread and dip chocolates and know all the herbs that grow in the garden. I do hope that one day one of them will take over the running of Midsummer House so that my dream will last forever. As you can see, I am still as passionate about Midsummer House and its Cambridgeshire home as the first day I walked through the door.

Throughout the ages, Cambridge eateries and watering holes have been the site of many scientific discoveries and philosophical realisations – great academics have obviously found inspiration in the food and drink provided by this fair county. So, armed with your 2011 Cambridgeshire Food & Drink Guide, get out there, explore all that this wonderful county offers, be inspired by food and make your own personal culinary discoveries.

Daniel Clifford


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