Due to the Covid pandemic, we closed The French Rooms restaurant, Bushmills, just before Christmas. The menu was full of festive fayre, and we now find ourselves heading into the summer after almost five months of closure. We have a seasonal palate; therefore, a change of menu is a must.
A seasonal palate is an underrated phenomenon, It works in the same way that you change your clothes for different seasons, we crave certain foods at certain times of the year. Fortunately for us, we are located on the North Coast and are surrounded by superb local producers which makes it easier for us to design our menus around the seasons and help mitigate against some of the environmental destruction of transporting food by air or under a heated polytunnel. But it is fascinating how we all get a taste for certain foods at certain times of the year which reinforces our belief that food is a cultural touchstone.
Much evidence suggests eating seasonally is better for your health. Eating foods in season ensures that you are consuming fresh foods at their nutrient-dense peak. It is not only a cost-effective way of adding more nutrients to your diet, but it’s also tastier. There is a trend emerging where people recognise the benefits and enjoy the opportunity to return to a more connected relationship with the foods they consume. It is interesting to consider that it is not necessarily confined to the privileged as globally, people often rely on growing their own crops to survive.
Source Grow – The connection
Supporting local producers, now more than ever, supports local business and, in turn, local livelihoods and contributes to the local economy. During the lockdown, we are exploring how we can advance our offering in conjunction with a soon-to-be-launched platform, SOURCE GROW, which is set to connect Northern Irish growers and sourcers together in one place. SOURCE GROW is passionate about supporting sustainability. Local and seasonal produce and we are delighted to be involved in this much-needed resource.
Summer menu planning
We will be sharing some of our new dishes over the coming weeks as we prepare to re-open. We have been catching up as a team, discussing our menus, and looking forward to getting back to the kitchen. Brexit has also impacted, so we are slowly exploring the effect on supplies and looking at solutions to continue serving popular dishes.
The French Rooms Kitchen Garden
Our kitchen garden is laden down with fresh herbs, with the restaurant closed. We have been experimenting in the kitchen to see how we could use our surplus of mint leaves & parsley to create new flavours – this pesto has an intense flavour that will work well with rich dishes such as lamb or roast beef. We will be featuring it in several dishes and on our gourmet sharing platters. Fresh pesto is a versatile, easy-to-make sauce that is great with pasta, used as a fresh dip for vegetables, and can be served on pizza.
When preparing your pesto, it’s important not to over-process the ingredients. Otherwise, you’ll end up with something more like salsa than pate, so I would advise using a food processor rather than a blender.
The key thing when making pesto is ensuring all the ingredients are finely chopped before running them through the machine: this includes garlic cloves, nuts, herbs, and cheese.
We would love to hear from you
Do you eat seasonally and what is your favourite season?