Tastes of spring

I LOVE Easter Sunday lunch. It feels like a celebration of spring. I’ve just got a beautiful bit of young spring lamb from my butcher, a once a year treat — sweet, succulent and juicy.

Spring lambs are born before Christmas and are at their best at 3-4 months old weighing approximately 9-10kgs. You may need to order ahead from your butcher to be sure of lamb like this. It has quite a different flavour and texture to the hogget we’ve been enjoying up to recently. Spring lamb needs very little embellishment, just a few flakes of sea salt rubbed into the skin before roasting.

We’ve been using the first of the new season’s rhubarb for the past few weeks. I’d eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner, I can’t get enough of it after the winter, it’s like a craving.

For the starter, it’ll be new season asparagus on toast with Hollandaise Sauce. This is the earliest I have seen fresh asparagus on sale — usually we have to wait until the end of April or beginning of May to savour the first tender spears.

This year, Tim York (086-8593996), who grows asparagus in west Cork near Roaring Water Bay, harvested the first of his outdoor asparagus at the end of March — spooky or what — yet another example of accelerated global warming. I’m not complaining — I know one can get imported asparagus almost year round but nothing compares to the exquisite flavour of fresh asparagus. We usually have a rhubarb tart for pudding on Easter Sunday after the feast of roast lamb and mint sauce. This year I thought I’d ring the changes and try Alison Henderson’s delicious Rhubarb Meringue Tart, served at the Ballymaloe Shop Café.

It’s also traditional to have something eggy on Easter Sunday so here’s a recipe for a delicious frittata. I’ll pile wild garlic and watercress on top and sprinkle with wild garlic flowers for a taste of April. A few little frosted primrose fairy cakes would be adorable for tea. Other spring flowers like violets and jasmine can also be frosted. All you need is a little patience and a paint brush.

Have fun and a very happy Easter to all our readers.


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