It’s late January, and many of you may still be willfully ignoring the very dead, very sad Christmas tree in your foyer. Good news: You procrastinators can take inspiration from Philip Harrison, head chef of The Anglesea Arms. He’s undertaken a new kind of urban foraging — complete with a dash of dumpster diving — by hauling the abandoned trees into his kitchen, hacking off the branches with a meat cleaver, and cooking with fir.
When Harrison was working at a restaurant in Iceland in 2012, he caught on to a disturbing trend: Each Christmas, thousands of fir trees are imported from Norway, only to be thrown out a few weeks later. The cook wondered: Could they be repurposed in his kitchen? Knowing that black forest ham is traditionally smoked over fir, and that Rene Redzepi, head chef at Copenhagen restaurant Noma, had cooked with conifers to great acclaim, Harrison asked a waitress to bring in her dead Christmas tree. He hot-smoked an Arctic char over its branches and a January tradition was born.
A year later he was back in London cooking at Anglesea Arms, whose kitchen door looks onto the spot where the block’s residents toss their trees each January. ... Read more