Spring is without doubt one of the happiest of seasonal changes for most people. It signifies hope that the cold days are ending and there’s sunshine and good times around the corner. This feeling of relief and excitement is shared by all chefs: after a long season of root vegetables and cabbage, they can start to see some new fresh produce coming through. Asparagus traditionally arrives after St. George’s day. However, the season now starts much earlier at the start of April. English Peas and Broad Beans are still a little way off and the lovely ripe, umami tomatoes will be coming through soon as well.
The produce that I look to with greatest excitement, however, is the rapid emergence of mushrooms at the start of April and continuing through to late September. The most delicious of them all, the Morel, usually takes everyone by surprise towards the start of April. It has an odd appearance: a mottled, course lined cap that stops in a delicate stem. Like most mushrooms, in my opinion, it goes with pretty much anything. It has a delicate aroma and strong, but not overpowering, flavour of umami and woodland mushroom. It is an ideal partner for asparagus, peas and broad beans, balancing their sweet grassy notes with a delicate earthy flavour. We’ve paired Morel and Asparagus with some fantastic free range chicken for the tasting menu this month. We’re cooking the breast on the crown and stuffing the thighs with a chicken mousse as well.