Edge of seat? Are you perched? If not, you will be by the end of this…
Since the last report from the farm, much has changed, least not the outlook of our land. Less bleached with the crisp tinge of frost and more kissed with ever increasing amounts of sunlight, the green grass path (Dorothy would be mightily confused…) leads us to the vaguely familiar sights, smells and, most importantly, tastes of a blossoming new season. Slowly but surely, the new horizon is dawning and with it, bringing a whole host of fantastic, vibrant, delicious produce.
Timely, the recently passed St. Patrick’s Day is recognised as ‘a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.’ Pulling rabbits out of hats aside (except on Easter weekend obviously), the fields that have played host to our beautiful, hardy roots sign off to make way for the explosion of purple sprouting broccoli, berries, and wild garlic to name but a few. Our tomatoes are the first to make their presence known. Ranging from rich chocolate to emblazoned golden, vibrant green to damask pink; their sublime flavour, textures and ample juiciness send our senses into overdrive.
There is a shift in dynamics occurring, as happens at the straddling of every season. Changes in the air, in our stomachs, and on our plates. Each one a bi-product of one another. We crave different types of foods and nature answers our needs in the most spectacularly efficient of ways. None more so than the succession to the leafy throne of this season’s asparagus. Renowned as ‘the one to beat’ asparagus, our nation’s, sweet and tender jade spears will soon be in the spotlight on menus and dinner tables across the country.
Asparagus, we salute you.
I’ve been away, you don’t want to hear that I’m sure, the last thing you want to know as you struggle through the British winter is the thought of some fat bloke slobbing about on a beach in the Caribbean.
Still, that’s where I’ve been, sorry.
Now I’m back I’ve noticed that the sun is shining here as well, as far as I’m concerned that means one thing, spring is on its way, I could almost hear the plump cuckoos.
With spring comes fantastic produce from the farm, beautiful little leaves, lots of crunchy baby vegetables and of course asparagus. It’s been difficult to showcase great veg in the middle of winter, it always is, but now the weather seems to have broken, it can’t be long till we fill the café to brimming with a bumper spring harvest.
Do expect to find the management team in the café with large glasses of white wine, new menu planning is no easy job. See ya Wednesday night.
So if music be the food of love, rhubarb is most definitely the arrow shot from Cupid’s bow. The lightning-bolt flashes of fuchsia point directly towards the nearing of Springtime and thus, an array of flavour and colour. In season for a shorter-than-seems-to-be-fair time, January and February play host to this versatile, delightful fruit for which we are honoured to still have as a true example of British, artisan food. Officially known as Champagne Rhubarb (without the bubbles and woozy effects obviously), it grows in the ‘Rhubarb Triangle,’ found south of Leeds in West Yorkshire. This is due to a complimentary number of factors including the constitution of the soil, the microclimate found there, and the cheap coal originally used for heating in the nineteenth century. The technique used way back then is still used now (apart from hot air replacing coal), narrating a story of old in each and every stem. Heritage at its best.
WARNING : TECHY PART ALERT (PLEASE SKIP TO THIRD PARAGRAPH IF UNINTERESTED/SHORT OF TIME/LATE FOR A DATE)
Briefly, the rhubarb crowns (unjewelled), or roots are grown outdoors from August for two years. After this time, in autumn, they await a blast of cold at which point (mid-winter timeish) they are then uprooted, literally, and packed on floors of old coal sheds, in sheer darkness but in a warm and toasty 25°C plus. The former condition resulting in pale, tender shoots, and the latter condition making them grow. The harvesting is tinged with romance, taking place by candle-light. All in all, bit of a long process calling for great skills and knowledge, no doubt passed down from generation to generation.
Versatile, exuberant and oh-so-swoony-delicious, Wallace & Co. are paying great homage with the following offerings…rhubarb crumble, rhubarb jam, rhubarb smoothie and rhubarb bakewell tart. It’s not just a pretty face…. PLUS, it’s available to buy there for you to experiment for yourself – at the bargain price of £4 per kilo (Ocado – £7.95).