Joy of Nettle soup. Urtica Dioica

Written by Simon Mitchell

Weather-wise it wasrepparttar first day of spring, with warm sun and a brisk wind fromrepparttar 147226 west. Many Lesser Celandine had flowered that morning and I wasrepparttar 147227 first to see them, Primroses too and just a sign of Earthnut leaves coming up. I set off in search of fresh nettles. I have a regular spot for this atrepparttar 147228 lower edge of a field that getsrepparttar 147229 sun but is protected fromrepparttar 147230 north and east by woodland. It's a good spot and I found that a colony of moles had set-up camp there since I last visited.

Its been such a mild winter in Cornwall this year that some ofrepparttar 147231 nettles were re-forming on last years stalks, but there were also many new growths, tiny little leaves just poking through. Yummy. Nettle soup is just my favourite. Get it early inrepparttar 147232 spring becauserepparttar 147233 plants toughen up quickly, and mature plants can be dangerous to eat asrepparttar 147234 'stingers' don't break down as easily.

You can pickrepparttar 147235 tiny nettle heads quite easily with scissors, then lift them into a container, usingrepparttar 147236 scissors as tongs. Cut them carefully, avoiding any discoloured leaves that might be 'frost caught'. They'll grow back again quickly and you can keep a harvest of fresh tops running into summer by regular soup collections.

Be careful where you gatherrepparttar 147237 nettle tops. Avoid fields that get sprayed, roadsides or other chemical contamination. Take them from a wild place that isn't interfered with.

Having written that I put them in a plastic bag because I knew they would be home in minutes, simmering onrepparttar 147238 stove, but normally an open basket of some kind is better for gathering wild food. It's quite easy to pickrepparttar 147239 nettle tops and prepare them without being stung at all.

This recipe is from one of my favourite books - 'Wild Food' by Roger Phillips - a real treasure. I can never enthuse about this book enough. I have made this recipe about a dozen times and each one has a subtle difference based onrepparttar 147240 condition ofrepparttar 147241 nettles. One timerepparttar 147242 formic acid was so activerepparttar 147243 soup was actually fizzy ! The fresh nettle soup has a deep and layered flavour, yet delicate. There's something intensely 'green' about it, you can feel it doing you good ( a serotonin hit) - but there's also a sort of 'gamey' flavour.

You've just got to try this one for yourselves.

All you need is about a bagful of nettle tops, aboutrepparttar 147244 size of a football, for four people. Also: A large Onion, garlic cloves to taste, 2 or 3 potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, a stock cube (chicken or vegetable) and some cream.

Firstly, preparerepparttar 147245 nettles. Wash and drain them. Go through them carefully separating stalk from fresh leaf. You can do this easily by picking them up byrepparttar 147246 main stalk, compressingrepparttar 147247 leaf stalks together and cutting acrossrepparttar 147248 tops with scissors.

Then chop uprepparttar 147249 potatoes, onion and garlic and fry them with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of butter (OK I like to get messy). Whenrepparttar 147250 onion starts to soften andrepparttar 147251 potato is forming a slight crust, chuck inrepparttar 147252 nettles, give them a quick whisk around with a spatula. Then add about a litre of boiled water and your stock cube. Mix it all up and bubble it for about 12 minutes, or untilrepparttar 147253 potato is soft.

Chocolate Reviews

Written by Simon Mitchell

In a sporadic outburst of decadence I joinedrepparttar Chocolate tasting Club. Every month a box of 'the-most-fantastic-chocolates-in-the-world' would droprepparttar 147225 throughrepparttar 147226 letterbox. Please enjoy these mouth watering treats in a linguistic format. No calories - you get to keep your teeth! You can also use this technique of turning immediate sensory information in writing to overcome writer's block !

These boxes contained about 50 chocolates, usually two of each main variety. I would eat one and savour its qualities and later on withrepparttar 147227 second one would write about it while I ate it.

Whisky Truffle A nice firm fit inrepparttar 147228 mouth with a rippled texture that melted with blood warmth. After a slow initial start, my tongue encouragingrepparttar 147229 outer layers,repparttar 147230 truffle imploded gently with shards of dark chocolate bedded intorepparttar 147231 outer mass and burrowing their way intorepparttar 147232 creamy centre. A wide taste of whisky warmed my mouth and filled my heart.

Macadamia Smoothy I fittedrepparttar 147233 dome shape into my upper palate and left it there to warm. The casing slowly melted and then cracked open in places, leaking a subtle flavour of warming gin and neroli-like orange that quickly turned to flavoured fluid. Suddenly my mouth was a river of macadamia and orange and I swam down it to melting point. Like a swift visit to a sophisticated cocktail bar.

Le Crunch An 'energy builder' claimedrepparttar 147234 description. An almond and two hazelnuts sat together and my first bite took one of each. It split like perfect slate and nested while my tongue workedrepparttar 147235 edges, soon feeling nutty texture. Light brown flavours infected my taste buds and increased my saliva. The flavours merged together into toffee. It melted together withrepparttar 147236 surety of a target taste, I could feel it compiling a taste direction in my mouth, leaving nutty shards. I bit into them and nut and praline exploded together infusing a delicious end flavour.

Memories It was lust. A Toblerone made by angels in heaven exploded nutty stars and nougat.

Confit d'Orange The bundle took a while to melt, releasing slow flavours like a distant memory of orange. It broke into an orange wonderland and I rafted onrepparttar 147237 dark chocolate down an orange flavoured stream of pleasure. The enrobing raft stopped me drowning and caressed me intorepparttar 147238 flavour, leaving shreds of elfin marmalade scattered around my mouth.

Smile I wanted to bite into my smile but I didn't. It fitted in my mouth perfectly and I rolled it round and over as it melted to me. Asrepparttar 147239 smile melted inside me it infected my heart with a grin. I felt welcomed by a world of tiramou ganache which whispered secret flavours to me aboutrepparttar 147240 original beans.

Mignonne I placedrepparttar 147241 hazelnut-domed, white chocolate carefully upright into my mouth. My glands secreted swift saliva at its scent, urgingrepparttar 147242 melt. Rotatingrepparttar 147243 ball, my tongue soon found a nutty texture emerging fromrepparttar 147244 robe, leeching subtle flavours. The wafer and nut counterpointed each other perfectly. The wafer melted in waves of creaminess,repparttar 147245 nuts patiently waited, clustered in melting chocolate. Finally I bit into it andrepparttar 147246 nut maiden ran from her bushes and showered me with sweet kisses.

Kenya The pixelated, rasta-coloured top drew my interest fromrepparttar 147247 very beginning. Edible pigment in cocoa butter. It seemedrepparttar 147248 right size to bite into. Chilled to two degrees below room temperature it broke easily in my mouth,repparttar 147249 crust of tight chocolate breaking easily into a brick like core. I let it rest a moment and suddenly allrepparttar 147250 coffees I'd ever enjoyed rushed me in ambush. I could tasterepparttar 147251 plantation,repparttar 147252 heat,repparttar 147253 sweat that had gone into these beans, beating together withrepparttar 147254 cocoa nibs like sharper bubbles inrepparttar 147255 sand. They melted together with a nutty finish. I'm sure I saw giraffes.

Calvados Truffle I poppedrepparttar 147256 whole thing in at two degrees below room temperature. I sensed a petrol-like energy building, suggestions of Cox's Orange Pippin bleeding through its melting skin. I rolled it around in anticipation. The flavour hues grew deeper asrepparttar 147257 chocolate escaped into me, revealing a forest of Calvados ganache that stretched away to melting point in a soft, toffee-like ending.

Lime Sorbet A perfect fit inrepparttar 147258 mouth with a fascinating speckle like a bird's egg. The skin fractured quickly to ooze sweet lime that flowed with increasing sharpness across my tongue. The light explosion of fruitiness slowly faded to chocolate bliss dark as a raven's wing.

Rum and Sultana Ganache A firm shape like a square Christmas cake with an enrobed sultana crowning it. It was quite big but I popped it in in one go anyway. The melt started. On one siderepparttar 147259 raisin roughed my tongue likerepparttar 147260 gentle but rough lick of a cow. The internal ganache morphed itself to fit my palate and ultimate flavours started to leech throughrepparttar 147261 casing. The temptation to bite became intense and my teeth fractured throughrepparttar 147262 sultana, mixing a rush of Carribean rum to float overrepparttar 147263 soft, dark ganache. I put my Bob Marley CD on.

Rose Cream With my first one ofrepparttar 147264 two, I was impressed how a flavour as delicate as rose transferred to chocolate. Yum. I was transported to Chelsea Physic garden and my first smell of a chocalate scented fritillary. I was in a bower made of chocolate and scented roses hung around me. Waves of dark chocolate fondant flavour almost overwhelmed me in a moment out of time.

Green Apple Sorbet I placedrepparttar 147265 chilled chocolate with its bright green splatter into my mouth and waited. Its like that moment when you lightrepparttar 147266 fuse of a firework and 'stand well back'. The advantage of chilling was clear with this chocolate, it givesrepparttar 147267 skin a little more integrity whilerepparttar 147268 insides ofrepparttar 147269 chocolate warm to blood temperature. The sweet nugget collapsed slowly and vibrant green flavours erupted onto my taste buds like oozing lava. Scintillating colours rainbowed my mouth and throat as it slipped down in a river of sweet-sharp sorbet and ganache.

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