Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Spring Fling

It is the time of year for All Things New.

Shake out your winter doona and put it away (okay maybe not, this is Melbourne after all). Head out through damp fields and hunt for morels. If you are the lazy non-foraging type, you can simply head to Damian Pike and ask very sweetly if he's got some lying around. They will set you back a pretty penny but it's a very rare treat - savoured by mushroom hunters all over Australia. And seasonal too - they depend on weather conditions throughout winter and there will be years when you'll come away with a handful and years when you will be positively drowning in the things.
Morels at Damian Pike Wild Mushrooms
 The point is, the rare things, the sweetest morsels, are not easy come by.

Take broad beans. Another of spring's early treats, they appear and we clap our hands with delight. And the young, baby ones are divine - so soft, so small, they don't need double-podding. But a week or so in and the sturdier siblings arrive at the Market and the labour of love commences

First the beans are shelled - pods split and the green beans pulled from their cottony home.Then blanched in boiling water for 1-3 minutes, then drained and refreshed in cold water. Now the next shelling takes place, the labourious removal of each bean from its cover (people should smile when you do this for them. They should smile a lot.)

As Stephanie Alexander would say "The startlingly emerald-green kernels can be rewarmed in a little melted butter or boiling water in less than a minute."

F & J Fruiterers
And surprisingly perhaps, the best way, I feel, to eat these hard-won treasures is simply. Absolutely simply. With a little sourdough toast, a soft young Spring cheese underneath. Mixed through fresh pasta with a drizzle of the newly harvested olive oil. 

Grassy, green, light - all the flavours of spring.
Photo by Various Brennemans

If I get round to double-podding some broad beans on a Sunday afternoon, I know how I'll serve them. Warmed through with some lemon zest, baby peas and pea shoots picked straight from the punnet. It will be both difficult and simple and it will be good.

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