04 November 2012

A bit of a rant and some greens

All the family went out for a meal last night to celebrate Mike's birthday. I was looking forward to trying one of the 'Countylicious' menus at local restaurants. This is a month-long celebration of the County's 'culinary community', according to the initiative's website - it's basically designed to tempt people out to local restaurants in the slack season between the end of summer and the Christmas party rush. It's been running for a few years but this is the first time we'd got organised enough to try it.

And I have to say that I was disappointed with the meal I had. The meat was local, but the vegetables were anything but fresh, local, and seasonal: asparagus in November and some carrots and broccoli that looked suspiciously like they'd come from a packet of frozen veg. With farm stands still selling fresh vegetables in the County: root crops, leeks, cabbages, squashes, there's simply no excuse for a restaurant claiming to be celebrating local food to be serving up frozen vegetables at this time of year.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Brussels sprout plants have been refusing to produce any actual sprouts, despite looking green and healthy. I think the weather conditions this year just haven't been right for the formation of sprouts. I don't like to think that I've grown a vegetable which is producing nothing worth eating, so instead of vainly hoping for some sprouts to appear at this late period of the year, I'm focusing instead on those healthy green leaves and am harvesting those.

I've not picked or cooked Brussel tops before, so this was a bit of an experiment. I cut out the stems, shredded the greens and then lightly braised them with a clove or two of garlic in a little butter and water, finished with some freshly ground pepper and a little salt.

They made a tasty and brightly green side dish to our Sunday lunch of local lamb cooked with  herbs, onions, carrots, potatoes and parsnips, all from our garden. Even those who would refuse to eat sprouts were willing to consume them. If we can eat these seasonal, local crops at our own table, I'm sure that restaurants claiming to support County growers can do the same thing.

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