June – July
If you work in the kitchen or you are a foodie you can tell that summer is well and truly underway. As the once tender stems and shoots of our spring friends are giving way to the new abundance of fruits and vegetables now arriving at the markets.
On the forage front nettles are still good and sea kale is now at its best. Picked just north of Chichester, wild watercress which, being allowed to grow larger, is a completely different beast to the smaller shoots you’re used to, though the sprouting is almost like nasturtiums.
If you are a mushroom lover St. Georges are an acceptable price and just the right size. Worth trying as they have an extremely short season. Also, a notable amount of native Morels are around although quite small.
On the vegetable front Globe/Violet artichoke, beetroot, radish, girollets, wild asparagus and turnips are coming through. We are still waiting on the peaches and there were murmurs of gooseberries and greengages, but that’s just ridiculous!
A quick one on strawberries, pick-your-own is always the best way to go (Runcton Farm) or as it gets warmer you can find the wild strawberries (woodland) in the hedgerows and bushes from Eartham to Duncton. Smaller than the garden strawberries but packed with a crazy strawberry zap.
For meat, lamb is very good now, as left a bit longer than the Easter Spring lamb, it has the perfect twang and ream of fat.
Fish wise all the usual suspects though crab locally is a bit hit and miss, sardines and mackerel are both excellent as is sole and plaice in both price and taste. Skate also good at the moment as they’re surfacing on these sparkly summer days.
But my absolute must for June is wild salmon. I’m not talking about the Atlantic caught or Alaskan (best left for bears to munch), I’m talking River Tweed, Scottish Borders, line caught. You will never find fresh salmon on the menu at The Blacksmiths unless between June and August. This is the REAL DEAL. From river to kitchen in less than 24 hours, thinly sliced with lemon and black pepper and that’s it. If you like the flabby, dull, farmed stuff from the supermarkets then stay away as this will blow your mind! One of the best parts of the summer is it cold poached with fresh asparagus, kew pie mayonnaise and dressed watercress.
Cheese of the month is Spenwood from Anne Wigmore, a sheep’s milk vegetarian pecorino-like cheese full of acidity and salty goodness. It’s brilliantly versatile and will go on almost anything summery. Buy from Neale’s Yard Dairy online.
All of this, in one way or another, you can find here at The Blacksmiths either sitting in the pub with a few pints of local beer or in the ever-increasing garden as the days get warmer and longer.