Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Sunday at Kilruddery Farmer's Market

What better way to spend an Easter morning than heading out to a brand new farmer's market? Certainly not sitting in bed eating chocolate, drinking tea and watching endless episodes of 'The Big Bang Theory' (my latest televisual obsession, I know it's awful, it's still insanely addictive). Having taken a stark look at my life choices I decided to kick myself into action, difficult as it was, and hit the road to get some fresh air and Easter cheer. So off I went down to Kilruddery House in Wicklow yesterday morning to see if I couldn't buy me up some treats. They've launched a new farmer's market being held in the grounds of the house. Yesterday was the first event and future ones will take place on the first Saturday of every month. It's a bit far away for a regular shopping haunt for me but really nice for a day out. As all new markets are, it was small, but thankfully perfectly formed. There was a great atmosphere helped along by the nice weather, live music and friendly marketeers, some really nice stalls, good coffee and a lovely setting. There's also a covered over area for when the weather's not that great too, a must in our wonderfully unpredictable climate. I think it will be a real addition to the local community. Shame I'm no local.

The most exciting find in my trip to the market was meeting Phil from Carraignamuc Cottage. He grows and sells his own veg and also sells a selection of non-seasonal veg which he buys wholesale. An out-of-work stonemason, he took to growing vegetables when the recession hit. He seems really passionate and positive about what he's doing, which is a refreshing attitude these days. It was really uplifting to chat to him. Sure enough I couldn't resist buying something, so I bought a beautiful looking Romanesco Broccoli. Now, I know they're not in season right now and by doing so I was breaking all my rules about seasonality and importing food, but it was just so pretty I couldn't help myself. And it's such a boring time of year for seasonal vegetables. Anyway, I was supporting an entrepreneur, so I can live with myself. 

He also delivers veg boxes which you can order from his farm online. He has a fairly comprehensive list of stock. You just pick what you want and he'll deliver it to your door. I presumed I lived too far away for him to deliver, with him all the way down in Wicklow and me in Dublin city centre, but he kindly agreed to trek in to town giving me a deal on my first order to boot. Can't wait for the first delivery. Should I be concerned that this is getting me excited? If like me you've always wanted a veg box delivery you should check him out. He sells seedlings too if, again like me, you're getting excited about growing your own but haven't the skills or space to grow from seed.

the broccoli of wonder

Anyway the upshot of all this lovely ambling through country gardens and stately homes was that I had a new and unusual vegetable to take home with me for dinner last night. I've been intrigued by the Romanesco broccoli (or cauliflower, depending who you ask) for a long time. It quite simply is the coolest looking vegetable out there. I'd heard it's pretty nice roasted but I wanted something a bit more indulgent for my Easter dinner so I decided to make a potato and broccoli bake. It couldn't be more simple and was the perfect accompaniment to a bit of roast chicken. So if you've ever been tempted by the beguiling charms of the Romanesco broccoli but not had a clue what to do with, now you've no excuse not to give it a try.

Here's how I made it.

Potato and broccoli gratin

3 potatoes
half a head of romanesco broccoli
1/3 litre milk
2 cloves garlic, sliced
bay leaf
butter (about 10g)
flour (about a tablespoon)

Preheat oven to gas mark 5

Peel and slice the potatoes and cut the broccoli into bite size florets
Rub the sides of a small baking dish with butter and arrange the potatoes and broccoli in the dish
In a small saucepan, bring the milk to the boil with the garlic, bay and thyme. Simmer for a couple of minutes and leave to infuse.
Make a roux with the butter and flour and use to thicken the milk slightly
Season the milk to taste
Pour the milk over the potatoes and broccoli, grate the cheese on top (as much as you like depending on how cheesey you want it. I used some left over feta that I had in the fridge which worked really well)
Top with breadcrumbs
Cover with foil and bake in the over for 45 mins (or until the potatoes are soft). Take the foil off for the last ten to allow the breadcrumbs to brown. 

No comments:

Post a Comment