Chefs are a funny breed, in the deep of Winter we look forward to, crave almost, the explosion of colour and taste that Spring and Summer offer in terms of produce. However during the Spring/Summer we are already planning our favourite comfort food dishes using hearty roots and alliums...
I am currently writing this Blog post from the modern comfort of the Google campus in the hipster haven of Shoreditch. Sitting here in a t-shirt looking out onto the sunny courtyard at a chef (albeit in a hoodie and apron) cooking away merrily on a small portable gas BBQ for the members, students and entrepreneurs on site, I can't help but feel anticipation for the year ahead. March will be with us soon and although still cool outside (R still has his heating up full), Spring will soon be in full swing.
There seems to be constant festivities as Spring comes round, cultures around the world celebrating the clearing away of frosty weather; or if you're in the Southern hemisphere, a much awaited break from the scorching summer temperatures. As you can imagine me and R are only interested in the edible parts of Spring, much like kids only interested in sweets at Christmas. If you are interested to know about some quirky produce/festivals that happen every year, read on, you may even be tempted to take a short spring holiday for yourself!
1) The Coopers Hill Cheese-rolling and Wake - to give it it's proper title, is a festival occuring every year on the Spring bank holiday - or last Monday in May. As the name suggests, it is a festival which celebrates the regions cheese and hillsides! The origin of the festival is contested but the basic premise is to chase a 9lb Double Gloucester down a hill, whereupon it can reach speeds of up to 70mph. The winner of said race wins the cheese, if you are a fan of bloodsport, this could be for you as people are occasionally injured by the rampaging cheeses.
2) Allium tricoccum - More lovingly know by our friends across the pond as 'Ramps', these delightful little guys are like a spring onion but with a funky garlicky chive taste. They are celebrated across various states in the US as a rare delicacy which has unfortunately led it to become protected in certain areas as they are not commercially grown and occasionlly devastatingly over-harvested. If you get a chance to attend a Ramp festival though definitely tuck into a few of these little guys.
3) Hanami - A Japanese celebration meaning ' flower-viewing' occurs when the cherry and plume trees are in full blossom throughout April and May. Now me and R are not so much about the edible flowers in dishes, however the custom of 'flower-viewing' in Japan comes with the proverb dumplings rather than flowers - hinting at the true nature of the festival - getting together and having a good old fashioned picnic in the park.
Cheese-Rolling Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/57389319@N00/155851620
Hanami Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/68532869@N08/13597702574
Paulaner Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/59116221@N00/2915655441