Eggs - Time to get cracking

Now that we can all get our hands on delicious rare-breed and specialist eggs, let’s think beyond the breakfast table, says Anthea Gerrie

Foodies will be hoping for something a little more functional than a globe of gourmet chocolate by way of an Easter egg this year. Many are looking forward to a box of real eggs, which are as sensory a flavour experience as even the finest chocolate. We are not talking just any old eggs, mind you, but hen’s eggs with provenance.

Named for the farm from where your local keeper of rare breed chickensdispatches them to the village shop, if you’re a lucky country-dweller, or for the posh farm brands which now supply supermarkets. One of the best advances in British food is that every city dwellercannow enjoy a beautiful fresh farm egg with a rich, old-fashioned taste. Also catching on are the seasonal beauties that herald a late spring – and look gorgeous on the kitchen counter. These include pheasant eggs, whose olivegreen and brown shells could have beenhand-speckled by Farrow & Ball, palestbluebantam eggs, and quail eggs, whose coats of marbled coffee and cream are the most delicate aquamarine on the inside. Meanwhile, novelty- seekers are searching out rare turkey and gull eggs as well as goose eggs big enough to produce a family omelette. Not to mention gigantic ostrich eggs, whose only virtue, according to serious cooks, seems to be that they are a talking point. But it’s harder to find better taste – or value – than the egg from a properly raised chicken, a superfood at an unbeatable price compared to other protein sources. “Iwould far rather have a hen’s egg than any other kind,” says Rowley Leigh, who was among the first to experiment with ostrich eggs when they first came to market. “Now the asparagus season is upon us, it’s pretty hard to beat a lovely fresh softboiled hen’s egg with asparagus soldiers – the two ingredients are made for each other.” Andwe are all slowly coming back to thenotion put into our heads half a century ago by the British Egg Marketing Board, who urged us to go to work on an egg.

Falsely discredited by Edwina Currie as being harbourers of salmonella, they were, equally wrongly, thought to be dangerous to eat in quantity because of their cholesterol content. It’s beenproven that the dietary cholesterol in eggs does not have a significant effect on blood cholesterol and the British Heart Foundation and Food Standards Agency have now lifted their limits on recommended consumption. A study published last year in the Nutrition & Food Science journal revealed that eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods money can buy andwe should be aiming for one a day. Aswell as their high protein content, eggs are a rich source of vitamin A, D, B, iron and folic acid and also contain anti-oxidants which can help prevent degenerative blindness. No wonder Brits,who eat two or three a week on average, have pushed consumption up to 11 billion eggs per year. Clarence Court, which has enjoyed astonishing success since it first decided to sell upmarket eggs from rarebreed birds more than 20 years ago, is partly responsible for a new surge in egg consumption (up more than 5 per cent in the last quarter of 2010 alone).

The brand enjoyed a sales increase of 15percent last year in Selfridges, where leading columnist and chef Mark Hix, who operates a champagne bar in the store, is a massive fan: “I only use Clarence Court eggs because of their rare breeds and real flavours – they have the deepest amber yolks,” he says. Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein are also declared fans so what on earth can make a branded egg special enough to get chefs waxing lyrical?“ Clarence Court hens are athletic birds which walk up to a mile a day,” explains head farmer, Richard Kempsey. “They utilise their time and energy to the full, which results in the rich yolks and flavour.” They can be had for £1.99 a half-dozen, a relatively small increase on the price ofacommon or garden free-range egg. Buteven the best branded egg is not unbeatable.

It’s possible Sussex has something over Cornwall, as Leigh swears by his supply from “Roger the egg man” in EastHoathly, while I find it impossible to imagine a better specimen than those frommy own local supplier, Edwina Le May of Ladymeads Farm in CousleyWood. They come in odd shapes and sizes, cost an eye-watering £3.10 for six, and you never know if you will find any at the shop, as the hens lay sporadically and shipments fly out of the door within a day of arrival. As Max Clark of Leiths Cooking School, also an aficionado of fine eggs, says: “It’s better to have less of a beautiful egg whose rich yolk shows it has had a good diet than more of an inferior farmed one. The finest are a feast for the senses.”

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Sport
Mario Balotelli (left) trudges off at half-time last night, to be substituted during the interval
football
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?