Where has winter gone?

Where has winter gone?

My goodness – what is going on? Alicante beach was white with snow while the first shoots of 2017 were showing in Northumberland according to our foraging chef Jonny. When we caught up about menus he was blitzing said shoots with thistles and coconut water – good for the liver he says and so psychedelic (see pic below)!

Despite the terrible problems with the winter lettuce and broccoli in Spain, Vallum seems to be nigh-on self-sufficient. Our polytunnel rocket is so healthy we have had to make pesto this week having picked the plants back, while radishes, lettuce, chard, baby broad beans and beetroot are thriving.

Outside, the celeriac has been a miracle crop and the sprouting broccoli may be late but is picking well now. We hammered our kale by picking too hard in November and it has never recovered – schoolgirl error! Nevertheless, Sunday lunches in the Tea Room and Restaurant are very busy and I am sure it has a lot to do with the garden’s produce.

Away from growing and cooking, we’ve also been busy showing people around our marquee and we are excited for wedding season to start. We love putting on weddings and it’s a great source of satisfaction to the whole team.  I wish we had started doing events years ago. Doing a limited number makes it so rewarding, we have the scope to help couples put their own mark on the food and help them piece together their vision for a day and night to remember.

We’ve also popped back up at The Pele Tower in Corbridge for the first time this year with a very special three-course dinner on Valentine’s Day which woke us all up from our January slumber. Despite being logistically tricky it is so ancient and so beautifully restored we all love working there.

Roll on spring, roll on weddings and roll on summer – by which time I’ll probably be shouting roll on holidays!

If you do want to try out thistles, read this guide first:
www.countrylovers.co.uk/wildfoodjj/thisprep.pdf

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