CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe for £25 today CLICK HERE

Food & drink news across Kent

PUBLISHED: 15:41 10 May 2015 | UPDATED: 15:41 10 May 2015

MAY is asparagus month

MAY is asparagus month

Archant

From grower of the year to a cookery lesson with Gennaro Contaldo and hearalding the joys of asparagus with the Kent Farmers' Market Association, May is a glorious month for foodies

Lunch with Gennaro

It’s not every day you get to cook with one of your all-time favourite chefs, let alone persuade him to re-enact that classic Disney moment in The Lady and the Tramp.

The occasion was the opening of Jamie’s Italian Trattoria in Tunbridge Wells High Street and who better to have in the kitchen than Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie Oliver’s mentor, business partner and star of BBC’s Two Greedy Italians?

I was supposed to be having a one-on-one pasta masterclass, but it ended up with me largely in the way, mouth agape as the unstoppable Italian created a fabulous seafood pasta dish with the yummiest almond pesto I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.

All done in a matter of minutes, of course, and in one of the best-organised kitchens I’ve seen, all the while literally dancing in and out of the team of young chefs Gennaro was there to train.

Jamie Oliver’s first restaurant Kent, the trattoria menu is made up of Jamie’s favourite dishes from namesake Jamie’s Italian. From antipasti and comforting bowls of pasta to grills and freshly made pizza, everything on the menu is produce-driven, with a focus on using higher welfare and sustainable ingredients throughout.

Look out for the section of the menu dedicated to Al mattone, the Tuscan method of cooking meat under a searing hot brick to keep it extra juicy and succulent.

There’s also a special kids’ menu and a standalone bar, ideal for a quick chat over a cocktail or bottle of wine and some tasty nibbles. Aperitivo hour between 5-7pm every week night offers complimentary nibbles with your drinks.

www.jamieoliver.com/italian/restaurants/tunbridge-wells

Taste of Kent Awards 2015

Our friends at Produced in Kent announced the winners in their Taste of Kent Awards 2015 at a black-tie dinner held at the Kent County Showground.

Stephanie Durling commented: “The awards highlight the very finest produce the county has to offer, but it is not just about celebrating great tasting food once a year. If we all sourced 10 per cent of our weekly groceries from Kent producers, retailers and Farmers’ Markets we can help to generate over £185m for our local economy.”

The winners are pictured above and for a full list of results, visit:

www.tasteofkentawards.co.uk.

Don’t forget to nominate your favourites for the Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards! You have until 31 July to make your nominations: http://kentfda.co.uk.

Top of the crops

Laurence J Betts Ltd Salad has been named Grower of the Year in the UK Grower Awards 2015. The Offham-based company then made it a double by scooping the overall award for Edibles Grower of the Year.

The firm was singled out for its innovation and commitment to bringing new products to market, running up to 500 trials of new crops each year. It was also commended for outstanding customer service.

Laurence J Betts Ltd was founded in 1930 and is now run by Stephen Betts who represents the fourth generation of the Betts family. The farm focuses on the production of wholehead and babyleaf salads for the food service, wholesale and supermarket sectors.

There are three main farm sites where the salads are grown: Church Farm, Offham, (also a centre for the cooling and distribution of salads); Style Place Farm, Hadlow and Cheveney Farm, Yalding, which is also the site of a winter storage reservoir.

Kentish asparagus

Asparagus showcases one of the many benefits of Farmers’ Markets, because it deteriorates very rapidly after harvesting, losing flavour as well as vitamins very quickly. Minimising time from field to plate is critical, and you cannot find it fresher than at local Farmers’ Markets and farm shops.

Equally, Kent’s temperate climate means the crop grows slowly and so the spears develop more intense flavours than imported flaccid imitations. According to long-time Kentish asparagus farmer Michael Bourne from New Park Farm: “Asparagus flown in for the supermarkets from hotter climes really is a pale shadow of our English counterpart.”

Cooking tips

The best way to cook asparagus is steaming it. First wash the stems thoroughly in cold water. Cooking times will vary depending on how thick the stalks are and how fresh it is, but a general guide is around three to five minutes until just tender. Roasting is a less time-critical option. Place trimmed asparagus on a roasting tray; drizzle with Kentish Rape Seed Oil (its nutty flavour goes particularly well), sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for 10-15 minutes at 200C/Gas 6/400F.

Buying tips

● Freshness is critical, so go to Farmers’ Markets and farm shops where it is usually less than 24 hours since picking

● Avoid asparagus that has dried out, woody-looking bases and make sure the tips aren’t limp or shrivelled.

● Asparagus spears should ‘squeak’ when you rub them together; old rubbery asparagus doesn’t squeak.

● If you are storing asparagus, remove the bottom inch, wrap the fresh-cut stem in a wet paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator drawer.

Kent Farmers’ Market Month

June is our second Kent Farmers’ Market Month, with details of special events in the June edition of Kent Life, or on our website www.kentfarmersmarkets.org.uk

More from Food & Drink

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The chef-patron of Chapter One, Andy McLeish, on an old family favourite, pumpkin pie

Read more

The Best Western combines Victorian detail with modern convenience and offers a cracking steak house too

Read more
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

From Creole-inspired seafood to rustic Italian dishes, Margate is rapidly becoming one of Kent's top places to eat. We've gathered 10 of the best places to eat in the town

Read more
Friday, August 30, 2019

No Sunday is complete without a roast dinner, and in the glorious county of Kent you'll be spoilt for choice with fantastic places to go. We have picked 12 great places where you can indulge in a roast with all the trimmings

Read more

Visit The White Horse in Dover for a slice of ancient and contemporary history, a huge welcome and hearty, homely cooking without any airs and graces

Read more
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

From the classic battered cod and chips to vegan 'fish' and deep fried gherkins, everybody loves a good fish and chip shop. We have picked 10 of the best places for fish and chips in Kent

Read more
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Recipe by Mike Janey from Mickey's Plaice, fishmonger at Shipbourne and Hildenborough Farmers' Markets

Read more
Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Working with Kent Farmers' Market Association, we put a different market in the spotlight

Read more
Thursday, August 8, 2019

If sipping a tipple in the sun is your idea of a great summer's afternoon, these pretty pub gardens will be heaven

Read more
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Christmas Day is about celebrating with loved ones over good food and conversation, so head to one of these fantastic restaurants or cosy pubs and have a festive feast

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life