I like that “garden to plate” is an increasingly common phrase written into menus. I like that striking crockery by artisan potters is an increasingly common sight in restaurants. I like that I was able to try Ed’s ‘Summer Vegetables’ for the first time today, and follow the progression of this dish from the kitchen garden onto a new plate by Peter Collis.
When Ed first began at Stafford Road Wine Bar, one of his first dishes was inspired by winter produce and each season he has evolved a seasonal vegetarian dish. This has been possible because Stafford Road now has a densely planted garden producing all of the unusual herbs and vegetables the menu offers.
Celeriac and jerusalem artichokes faded from the menu as globe artichokes, white asparagus and Jersey Benne potatoes arrived. I lost track when Ed explained how he prepared each vegetable differently: raw, sous vide, compressed, pickled, steamed, fried, dehydrated, pureed, and as a granita… The myriad of textures and techniques used to show off every ingredient’s best asset was complex, but simply delicious. The globe artichokes dwindled and the asparagus disappeared overnight, leaving only a memory of the first Spring Vegetables dish.
The garden answered swiftly with summer crops and the dish evolved yet again. Today I had courgette flower, courgette, french radish, brioche-crumbed shitake, Jersey Benne chips, cos lettuce, baby red cabbage, miners lettuce, sweetpea flower, radish, snow pea, purple bean, tatsoi, brined tomatoes, begonia, pickled onions, salad burnet, red amaranth, tamari sunflower seeds, yeast, Meyer lemon puree and organic quark.
To eat this knowing most of the ingredients came from seeds we sowed is so uplifting. It even makes me want to eat radishes, which I have successfully avoided since childhood. I know this dish will have to make way for a hearty procession of autumnal produce, but before that happens I will find reasons to return to Stafford Road every week before April. Until the soil gets cold, I will gladly celebrate the way radishes pop up defiantly with a flourish of red, reminding me that for the next little while… summer really is here.
All photos taken today at our home garden and at Stafford Road Wine Bar. As always, I was captivated watching Ed’s precise plating and the dish lasted mere seconds after I finished photographing it!