Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer in the City

Summer will officially be here in a few minutes, and the warmer days really seem to be here to stay. Just as well, because I think that most of us are growing weary of dull skies and drizzly days. The British asparagus season is drawing to a close, but there are many other seasonal produce to look forward to, whether on this side of the pond or the on the other.


Berries
June is all about the berries! The British strawberry season, like asparagus, had an early start, but this month also see the first raspberries and bilberries -a European cousin of the blueberry. Nothing says summer like Eton Mess, summer pudding, or a simple bowl of berries and cream!


Garlic scapes and other Flowers
New season garlic, or better known in Britain by its unromantic moniker 'wet garlic', should be available at the end of the month, but what I really look forward to in June are the scapes. The flower stalks are only produced by hard neck garlic, most commonly grown in Canada and in northern regions of France, less so in the UK. The curlicue flower stalks are decorative enough to grace a flower vase, but they truly shine in the plate. Finely chop them into dishes as a substitute for cloves of garlic, or keep them chunky and feature them in a stir-fry.


Just about every plant on my balcony are itching to flower, and many are edible: pansies, nasturtiums, oregano, sage, thyme... The list goes on: generally speaking, if the plant's leaf and stalk are safe to eat, the flower should be too. However, play it safe! If you are unsure whether or not a flower can be eaten, look it up before you throw it in the salad.

Rhubarb
British gardeners seem to think that rhubarb can only be picked until mid-June. In North-America, it is a fact that the only way to prevent an invasion of rhubarb plants is to keep picking it until late August... Well, to each his own, but if I had enough room to grow rhubarb, I'd be eating it all summer.

There is a plethora of tasty, seasonal treats to look forward to, so do indulge in the peppery radishes, tender new potatoes, plump cherry tomatoes, and the first wild mushrooms of the year.



Bon app'!




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