Savour welcomes Middleton Lodge Estate’s head gardener Andrew Webb and head chef of its FORGE Gareth Rayner as columnists.
Gareth: This time of year is always the start of some exciting changes in the Kitchen Garden. Following months of hibernation and trying to keep the frost away, the first of our produce has begun to burst into life. At Forge, our entire menu is focused on the produce available during the seasons – and that includes sourcing produce throughout those challenging and harsh winter months.
Andrew: Throughout March and April, our Purple Sprouting Broccoli comes through in abundance. We sowed the seeds in mid-May last year, in the hope they’ll be ready – as long as the weather behaves. This type of broccoli needs a long growing season as the seeds like to be grown on a heavy fertile soil, which you get throughout the colder months. We protect the broccoli with sustainable netting to keep the cabbage white butterflies and pigeons away. It’s thanks to this netting that means we can grow the broccoli organically.
Gareth: I love using the broccoli, it’s a lot leafier and deeper in colour compared to calabrese broccoli (the one you see in the supermarkets) and adds a different vibrant element and crunch to the dish. We really try to utilise the vegetable as much as possible. If we have any leftover, we deliver to The Coach House [another restaurant on the estate] and the events’ kitchens for the chefs to utilise. The Purple Sprouting Broccoli is featured across both the tasting and a la carte menus at Forge, as part of our charred broccoli, Jerusalem artichoke with 36-month parmesan dish, which has become one of our most favoured by guests.
It’s actually been on quite a journey as I first created the dish during my time at The Coach House, and then brought it over to Forge with a few tweaks here and there to make it more aligned to the concept of Forge. As we come into the warmer months, we’re starting to see more and more produce delivered to our kitchen doorstep each morning by the estate gardeners. Every day is different, and I can’t wait to see how the Spring menu will evolve over the coming months, we’ve got plenty of ideas up our chefs’ sleeves.
READ MORE: Why You Need To Eat At FORGE