Sometimes the Winter months can test you in regards to seasonal menu writing. Don’t get me wrong we have some amazing produce in this country in the Winter months but there is something more electric, energetic and thought invoking about the Spring.
I am not a walker not in the least, but I do live in the heart of the Chilterns so I can’t help but feel attached to the beautiful nature and can’t help but nearly skip through the fields and woods that surround me.
When I am taking my boy out in search of the Gruffalo or dinosaurs in the woodland, my eyes are constantly taken off of my senior hunter task and end up setting a strange example to him as I am constantly picking leaves, buds and berries and tasting them to find out what they are. I must say at this point please don’t follow my example as some things are not to be eaten by man. I have been doing this for years and trust both me and my gut, mistakes can be made!
There are some safe bets though. Right now wild garlic or ramsons are in there prime!
The pungent leaves are great in anything, pasta, risottos, pesto, and kimchi, salted or pickled. The stems which look like tiny spring onions add a depth to any dish; they went very well with my rose veal last night!
Wild strawberry leaves and cherry blossoms fill both the tree line and woodland floor.
Jack by the hedge which is another more subtle type of wild garlic is everywhere! I use it just like spinach to add to my dishes or make vibrant soups and sauces
St George’s mushrooms will be here soon in all their glory and are a safe bet as they are the only wild mushroom that grows this time of year. Asparagus and strawberries are coming in from the tunnels and though still not at their best they are still pretty dang good and of course Jersey Royals. The potato that all potatoes want to taste like. Sometimes menus just write themselves.
This is such an inspiring time of year for any cook and it will only get better, so get out there, breath deep, get to know your territory and cook what feels and is natural.