Ask any chef their favourite season and it's likely their eyes will light up with an immediate answer: “spring" or “autumn" being the most common answers, with the occasional few hesitant to commit so quickly. Watch carefully to see the cogs turn as they put their minds to it, and it is likely they will turn and say "it's between spring or autumn". We won't go into microseasons (the Japanese have 72!), but if you have nowhere in particular to be all day, and you love to see passion ooze out of chefs, then I encourage it.
Though not underrated, the summer months still bring some incredible produce. Just walking around the garden here at The Clock House spoils us with the August bounty. From the several varieties of beetroot that Head Chef Fred delighted me with as he came in with a large container full and a Cheshire cat grin, to the range of flowers we pick fresh before each service, on our quick, but calm and harmonious, lap of the garden. We weave between the fennel, croquet hoops and greenhouse, taking in the smells, vibrant colours and even nature’s natural Fibonacci sequences.
With all this beautiful and fresh produce around us, creating such delicate light dishes with big impact on flavour (rather aptly to quote Muhammad Ali "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee") is easy if you listen to what nature is telling you.
We chefs take credit for creating such delicious plates of food, when really we are merely the constructors of a good ‘flat pack’, putting together all the parts made for us by growers and the elements.
But come winter, that’s the real test, especially January and February. With very little available, we look back to the previous few seasons. While we were constructors of a good flat pack just six months ago, there are those who are also the finest craftsman around. We are mostly using centuries-old techniques of preservation in a traditional form, with the occasional modern method thrown in. Here at The Clock House, we have a little collection including ‘Elder Capers’ from a Black Lace Elder tree. Though we have nothing on the scale of Fäviken’s Magnus Nilsson’s impressive root cellar, housing all sorts of pickles and fermentations, or even the closer to home, The Ethicurean. This restaurant uses produce from its own walled garden to make fermentations, jams & even cider. Fred and I, and the rest of team look forward to the challenge however, inspired by what's around us now, and the coming months. So, until the days get shorter and colder, we'll continue to enjoy the pre-service lap around the garden.