Capturing the tastes

We talk a lot at Good Food Ireland about seasonal tastes. Eating fresh produce when it’s plentiful and at it’s best makes a lot of sense – both economically because plentiful produce is usually good value, and in taste terms, you are capturing an optimum flavour. Also, seasonality gives us something to celebrate.  Who can resist the first of the summer’s strawberries?. How many of us remember as a child, popping the first fresh pea pods – in the case of this writer it was always ‘One for the bowl, two for me…’ Needless to say there was very little in the bowl at the end of it all. Better than sweets! But we really shouldn’t expect these things to be around all the time. They wouldn’t be special if they were. Why should we eat tomatoes in winter, when they have been flown half way across the world and have little in the way of personality? Isn’t it better to wait till they come on stream in summer – picked from the vines of Irish growers and bursting with juiciness? And with that unmistakeable smell of ‘greenhouse’ about them? Hard to beat.  The message with seasonal eating is when it’s gone, it’s gone. This time of year, roots, potatoes, crunchy celery, chard, kale, and the first of the baby beetroot are coming into play. Alright, they might not seem very exciting when you look at that list in principle. But it’s what you do with them that counts. Bunches of young carrots and parsnips have been in farm shops and farmer’s markets for a few weeks – both are slim and tender, with bushy green tops.  In our view, a pretty irresistible sight to start of with! These root veggies have a natural sweetness enhanced when roasted in olive oil with a little thyme and seasoning.  The humble spud is a revolutionary thing – Kerr Pinks mash like a dream, Golden Wonder steamed in their jackets till the skins pop are one of the favourites of Ireland. Roosters are all rounders for roasting, chipping, steaming or boiling. Stir some steamed Kale into mashed potatoes with milk, butter and seasoning and you have one of the classic combinations of the season. Beetroot may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But we bet you won’t recognise the vegetable we are so used to seeing pickled in jars, when you grate a young beetroot raw into a salad. The sweet earthy taste and colour adds something special to a winter slaw with white cabbage, carrot and onion. We hope we are inspiring you. Enjoy the flavours of winter.