Asparagus lovers the British season has started! Rather earlier than usual due to the warmer winter that has benefited growers in the west of the country. Ours however still have a little way to go. Although imported throughout the year and the foreign varieties are a little cheaper, British asparagus is the best and worth buying if you can. Labour intensive to grow and hand-picked to protect the delicate spears it has a distinct delicate flavour, a wonderful bright-green colour and is one of the most delicious and versatile vegetables.
Prepare: Break off any woody ends and save using for extra flavour in soups and stews.
Cook: Toss in a little olive oil and griddle or barbeque, roasting develops a lovely rich flavour, or steam or boil for 3 or 4 minutes.
Healthy: Low in calories and packed with vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, as well as folate and copper, calcium, protein and fibre. Eating asparagus also has potential health benefits including weight loss, improved digestion, healthy pregnancy outcomes and lower blood pressure.
Serve: Simply with good butter and squeeze of lemon, or soy and chilli, with hollandaise for a touch of luxury, try raw too in a crunchy creamy salad or smoothie, dip into boiled egg, add to risotto, toss into pasta dishes, make into lasagne with crab or bake in a tart with cheese or smoked salmon.
With Easter just around the corner it’s a great excuse to decorate your home with bright pastels, welcoming wreaths – and of course eggs! Gisela Graham’s collections in her charming style are a lovely way to decorate your home:
Hanging decorations – chickens, bunnies, eggs to put on twigs in a vase or on a faux Easter tree
Table decorations, egg cups and jugs decorated with chickens set the Easter table for breakfast or special Easter tea
Welcoming faux egg and twig wreaths
Fillable eggs for the Easter egg hunt, baskets and bonnets
All things chocolate – Lindt eggs and rabbits, Bonbon Gourmet finest chocolate and praline, Cottage Delight’s novelty chocolate animals or boozy eggs – raspberry and prosecco or gin and lime.
As well as hot cross buns you may also like a hot cross cob – from Simmons our baker this jumbo bun is yummy sliced and toasted.
Easter Weekend: 19 – 22 April
Our opening hours are:
Good Friday 19 April 8.30 – 4.00
Easter Saturday 20 April 8.30 – 5.00
Easter Sunday 21 April CLOSED
Easter Monday 22 April 8.30 – 4.00
Cook Ready Meals
If you’ve not yet come across Cook frozen ready meals, they really are very good and can easily be passed off as your own cooking – especially if served in their ceramic casserole dishes that cater for the Two and Four meals!
Hand made by the Cook’s chefs who use the same ingredients and techniques as you would at home – they also add their signature to the dishes. New meals for Two to enjoy include, coq au reisling, lemon cheesecake, duck & wild boar cassoulet and lobster mac & cheese. Look out for the new summer desserts arriving this month too such as gin and lime cheesecake – this seems to be the filling of the month!
In the Garden
With the lighter evenings and warmer sun, thoughts are definitely turning to gardening and plants now in include the delphiniums, lavenders and senecio – do keep an eye as we’ll be stocking a good variety of plants over the next couple of months.
Cheeses of the Month
We have three great British cheeses with a continental twist for you this month that carry the 20% discount – look out for the red star.
Beauvale – has the rich buttery flavour of Stilton but soft almost spreadable texture and subtle sweetness of Italian Gorgonzola. Made by Cropwell Bishop Creamery with British milk from the Peak district, it is hand ladled and uses traditional rennet to bring out the smooth creamy melt-in-the-mouth texture and rich mellow flavour. It is matured for about 7 weeks when the delicious edible rind develops. Great in a salad, melted in pasta, squashed onto crusty bread or eaten with figs and honey. Winner of the best blue cheese at the British Cheese Awards 2017.
A really smashing blue states Rob our wine guru from Corney & Barrow, requires an equally lovely wine. Something right up that street then, if not slightly unusual, is the C&B Puertas Antiguas Viognier 2018 which with its richness and rounded mouthfeel might well be a perfect (though albeit infrequent) alternative to more traditional match ups. A Viognier that bursts with flavours of stone fruit over notes of jasmine and hazelnuts, culminating in a fresh, long finish – why not give it a whirl?
Baron Bigod – one of the few remaining traditional raw milk farmhouse bries in the world and the only one in the UK. Made by Jonny Crickmore at Fen Farm, Suffolk from the raw milk of their own Montebeliarde cows – a milk prized among cheesemakers. The cheese has a silky smooth texture with delicious earthy and mushroom flavours. When ripe the rind has a slight brownish marbling and will be lovely and gooey once cut.
Congratulations to Fen Farm for just winning the National Rural Business Award for the Best Rural Manufacturing Business.
The Belvedere Merlot would be a lovely match here, a big softie that bellies the idea a Merlot might be too big or bold for a cheese this silky. Allow the velvety texture to create a lovely harmony with the gooey-ness of the brie, while noting the freshness up front and the savoury backbone of the wine – perfect for those earthier notes in the cheese!
Mayfield Swiss (v) – a sweet nutty creamy Emmental style cheese made by Arthur Alsop and Nic Walker in their small dairy in East Sussex. Made with milk from local pedigree cows, this wax coated semi-soft cheese is aged for 5 to 7 months and is deliciously creamy yet complex with the naturally forming eyes associated with Swiss cheeses.
Let’s go for the most charming Sanziana Pinot Noir, lovely and uplifting and a much more traditional pairing than the others – a dependable bet that combines the semi-softness of the cheese with the lightness and vivacity of this Romanian wonder!