Notes from a Working Kitchen – Spring has Sprung

Welcome to the Mag’s new monthly blog, Notes From a Working Kitchen, by James Goss. James is the head chef & proprietor at the King’s Arms in Wing – an award winning pub that focuses on local ingredients, and a member of the Great Food Club. Every month, James will take us through what happens in a kitchen that works with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.

We love this time of year here at the King’s Arms and spring has well and truly sprung. There is so much going on right now. The greengage, peach, fig, medlar, apple, damson and quince trees are already heavy with baby fruit. With a good summer we should be looking forward to a very busy preserving, jamming and jellying season later on. Right now they provide excellent shade for the chickens in their run as they go about their important business of laying eggs for the kitchen.

All the work in the fruit cages seems to be paying off as our fruit bushes are all laden with berries. The redcurrants, blackcurrants, white currants, raspberries, loganberries, blueberries & gooseberries are all looking incredibly good. The first harvests from the top are the extra chunky rhubarb stalks; we have already confit some to go with the belly pork and foie gras. The gooseberries are nearly perfect and pair up beautifully with super-fresh, grilled or barbecued line-caught mackerel, which is at the peak of its powers at the moment. Truly popular here is the gooseberry ice cream; we can never make enough of it!

Spring lamb, super delicate, tender and lean is a real star at the moment – it’s quite pale in colour and requires very little other than gentle treatment to bring out its unique flavour. Lamb sweetbreads are therefore also back in season, courtesy of Gwylimn over at Launde. You’ll find them dotted around the menu but primarily brined, poached, lightly smoked, bread crumbed and deep fried. We love these tasty morsels, like posh little chicken nuggets.

Manton & Heckington Asparagus menu is now up and running. We serve the asparagus grilled or poached, with a variety of toppings from the plain to the slightly extravagant. It is a short season but should last out till the end of June. Manton are also supplying us with the best strawberries we’ve tasted in a long while, best served plain with cream and sugar. We are juicing a load for flavoured vodka, sorbets and ice creams. Top tip: this is the best use for the ones that have gone a little soft or mushy.

Literally on our doorstep is the wild garlic, almost gone for this year but has been great in pesto and served up with local Colwick Cheese and some beautiful heritage tomatoes. The wild garlic has also been a wonderful partner to potatoes in a rich and creamy soup. As the wild garlic goes to seed for another year our lovage takes on a glossy sheen and gives of its familiar pungent aroma, handily becoming the next flavour for the potato soup. What could be nicer to sit down with a bowl of soup and a freshly home baked beetroot sourdough roll after a nice walk in the surrounding countryside?

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James Goss
The author:

James is head chef and owner at The King's Arms pub in Wing, Rutland