Head Chef, Lee Bye, Tuddenham Mill hotel and restaurant

Head Chef, Lee Bye, is in search of that most delicate of alliums

17th March 2017

‘Onion sets, early carrots, broad beans, all need to be in by now, I just can’t get out there.’ The weather is really playing us for fools it seems and halting any labour on the allotment . . . in Grandad’s day anyway.

Fordham nature reserve holds many memories for me as a young boy growingnup with it at the bottom of my garden. Ripping PW50s across the sugar beet fields where we would have been shot on, camping out to get a glimpse of the fen tiger we all believed was running wild  in the belts. I still walk down the nature reserve now with my own brood when I get time and think about those days.

Now, I’m not looking for a black cat though or looking over my shoulder to see where my big bruv is, I’m looking for that stretch of barbed wire that has always been there and never appreciated, that line of barb that is plagued with the most delicate of alliums.

That smell is irresistible. . . scrunching it in my fist, it bruises instantly, I know it’s safe to pick and eat (he says), it’s obvious what it is . . . wild garlic.

I found the end of the rainbow that morning in the belts.

Monkfish roasted on the bone with wild garlic hollandaise will grace our menu over the next few weeks and the classic moules marinière with vermouth and wild garlic oil will be one to come and graze off our lunch menu.

I don’t suggest for one moment people are going to safely find a patch of wild garlic, but look and you will find it at the farmers’ markets.

Spring swathes us with young spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and the young wild garlic, it is pricey but boy is it worth it. A quick dunk in cold water, cooked quick with lots of salted butter (treat like spinach) and dressed on some aged beef or simply woven through some scrambled duck eggs or some mashed fenland spuds, the versatility of wild garlic will rev-up any sitting.

Have a walk on the wild side over the next few weeks and appreciate the first springs of the year, I know I will.


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