The secret to summer success…
Date: 15-02-2020 published by Nick Baines
Winter is cold, and it is bleak. The near Arctic conditions and short, grey, dreary days can often leave you thinking the intensity of British summer produce is a mere glimmer on the horizon. However, while we rummage around with a limited line-up of local seasonal produce, now is the time to set your sights on the fragrant flavours of the warmer months that lurk just around the corner.
New potatoes are one of the true signifiers of the turning seasons. You may even get to summon the delectable flavour of Irish ‘come earlies’ if you move quick enough. Slightly crushed and roasted with garlic and rosemary, slicked with butter and a sprinkling of spring onion, or pulled into an indulgent cold potato salad, the versatility of this humble ingredient is a treasure of the spring menu.
Crisp lettuce varieties like little gem, romaine and cos all bring their own unique flavours to your salad game, which should be strong for 2020. Drawing inspiration from places like LA’s Gjelina and Squirl could work wonders for your lunch time food offering. We’re also seeing large lettuces sliced in two before being charred and blackened on a grill. This can then be hit with toasted sesame seeds and gochujang for deep, fiery Korean inspired dishes, or taken in a darker direction with smoked pork shoulder or brisket.
There are then the glorious items like asparagus that come only through a short window. British asparagus has a flavour unlike the woody imported varieties. It’s therefore vital to secure a reliable supply to ensure you have only the very best spears for dipping in soft boiled duck eggs, or sauteing with a little garlic and a heavy hand of sea salt.
When we think of getting ahead for summer menus, the strawberry often springs immediately to mind. In the catering and hospitality business, we are looking for ripe colourful fruit with a good intensity of flavour – not watery, pale and insipid. No one wants to be left with lacklustre summer fruit, and ripe, slow grown strawberries unleash a barrage of flavour making a little go a very long way. Whether it’s for Eton mess, house made preserves or balsamic and Pimms baked strawberries, thinking about where your strawberries are going to come from now can make a real difference when you get ready for a sweltering weekend that could set the cash registers ringing.
It’s worth pointing out that according to the Morning Advertiser, one in four pub visits is alcohol free. Not only does this show how consumer behaviour is changing, but it also highlights how we should be diversifying our offerings accordingly. From raspberry kombucha, to strawberry lemonade, there are plenty of engaging seasonal options that could prove profitable, providing we plan ahead.
So while we contend with these bleak early months of the year, remember that it provides us with the perfect opportunity to plan ahead, secure produce and generally get a jump on summer menus.
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