Food miles: Spring's bounty is all over these isles – and waiting to be eaten
Sunday 15 April 2012
Spring is an exciting time for gourmet travel in Britain. The fields, hills and hedgerows are abundant with delicious seasonal treats including asparagus, wild morel mushrooms and lamb, providing inspiration for restaurant menus, cookery classes and events all over the UK.
Usually running from May to June, the brief British asparagus season has started early this year. Consequently, the highly prized green spears are already appearing on the menu of London restaurant of the moment Dabbous (020-7323 1544; dabbous.co.uk). The Vale of Evesham may be home to the British Asparagus Festival (21 April to 17 June; britishasparagusfestival.org), but you'll find some of the best asparagus in the country for sale at Frogshole Farm in Biddenden, Kent (01580 291196; frogsholefarm.com). Make a day of it and pop into nearby Apicius in Cranbrook (01580 714666; www.restaurant-apicius.co.uk) to try Michelin-starred chef Tim Johnson's dish of Frogshole asparagus panna cotta.
A mild winter has also brought the Jersey Royal potato season forward. If you can't make it to the island to try them during the Jersey Food Festival (19-27 May; 01534 44 88 00; jersey.com), one of the island's top chefs, Shaun Rankin from Bohemia (01534 876500; bohemiajersey.com), will be cooking Jersey produce at The Grill at the Dorchester (020-7629 8888; thedorchester.com) hotel in London from 14-19 May.
Although wild mushrooms are predominately associated with autumn, the most delicious variety of all, morels, appear in the spring. At the Walnut Tree, Abergavenny (01873 852797; thewalnuttreeinn.com), Shaun Hill's starter of asparagus with sea kale and morels is as seasonal as it gets.
At today's Exeter Food and Drink Festival (exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk), chefs Mat Follas of the Wild Garlic, Beaminster, and Russell Brown of Sienna Restaurant in Dorset, will be going head to head on stage to make the best dish from seasonal ingredients. The festival also includes dozens of local producers and pop-up restaurants.
The Welbeck Estate, Nottinghamshire (01909 500 211; welbeck.co.uk) is offering a number of spring-themed events. Learn how to make spring preserves at the estate's School of Artisan Food's one-day course on 22 April. The Welbeck Farm Shop Farmers' Market features produce from local farmers, and on 24 May, there's an opportunity to meet estate farmer Pat Moss and his spring lambs, followed by a lamb masterclass at the Farm Shop with master butcher Paul Birchall.
On 12 May, learn how to prepare "The Perfect Spring Dinner Party" at Cook in Cumbria (cookincumbria.com) in the beautiful Eden Valley.
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