Sunday, 29 April 2012
While it was raining in London yesterday Shaun (from Tower Bridge) and I headed down to sunny Kent with the London Brewers Alliance to pick hop shoots, an intensely seasonal ingredient which - while virtually unknown in the UK - is popular in Belgium and was a prized delicacy for the Romans before hop was even considered by brewers as a flavouring and preservative.
Hop is a perennial vine which dies back in the winter only to resprout in the spring, eventually in high summer reaching heights of 20+ feet on hop poles (see above) before producing the 'cones' or flowers which are used in brewing. Just now the plants are tiny and tender - and the fleshy tip makes - as it turns out - good eating - somewhere between English Asparagus, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Samphire.
In a Draft House near you they will be available this weekend while stocks last so get on down. At Lordship Lane Richard Shucksmith will be serving Pan-Fried Smoked Haddock Fish Cake w/ A Duck Egg and Wilted Hop Shoots. I scoffed the one in the picture below and can assure you it is DELICIOUS.
On the day itself Fullers excelled themselves bringing a cooler full of Scallops, which emerged as an excellent accompaniment to wilted hop shoots.
Nigel, the lovely Fuller's Director of Brewing, also artfully arranged a firkin of Bengal Lancer IPA as below. Sort of like the Madonna of the Rocks but a lot prettier.
Any road, will be nice to see you all down here for a bit of Eats, Shoots and Leaves action.