A Celebration of Seasonal Ingredients

2 May, 2013 By admin

This month at Atlantis we’re looking at all things seasonal and have an exclusive update from our special guest blogger FooDiva who gives her delicious insight into the world of food. Every month on our Atlantis Blog, FooDiva will share news bites on food trends in Dubai and globally. It’s the season for…seasonal ingredients

I’ve just returned from a foodie trip to the UK where having spoken to a number of chefs and restaurateurs, the craze for all things organic seems to have tapered off. Organic produce may be good for you and bursting with flavour, but sadly it’s prohibitively expensive for us to cook with at home, and for chefs to feature in their restaurant menus. The focus has moved to ingredients that are seasonal, with many chefs planning dishes based on seasonality which naturally helps create a better and more transparent food chain.

For us home cooks here in Dubai it’s easy to create meals with seasonal AND local produce given the growing UAE farm scene. At the moment, there is an abundance of capsicums, cucumbers, Boston lettuce, beef and cherry tomatoes, carrots, as well as potatoes. Get to these farmers’ markets pronto, before the hot summer months kick in and the harvesting season stalls. And of course we have local sustainable fish from the Gulf waters, championed by the Emirates Wildlife Society with its Choose Wisely campaign, where we’re seeing an increasing number of restaurants embrace this worthwhile initiative.

It’s not as simple for restaurants here in Dubai to adopt the seasonal mentality, whilst also maintaining freshness. The quantities available from the local farms are small, whilst consistency is also a challenge, so most produce still has to be imported. There’s the odd restaurant across town with its own vegetable and herb garden, Nobu included, where even his neighbour Giorgio Locatelli has been known to pinch the odd herb! Now there’s a good example of farm to fork. In this case, the produce from Nobu’s garden is organic as well, but that’s a bonus. Clearly though, these small gardens are not enough to supply a large hotel operation. At least we are seeing more restaurants serve up special menus with ingredients of the month, so even though produce is imported, it’s based on each country’s harvesting season making it more qualitative and purer. This can only be good news for creating more awareness of what exactly is in season around the world.

For the month of May, with spring in full swing in the northern hemisphere (let’s put the nasty weather that’s gripped Europe aside for now), there’s a wealth of produce in season so let’s run through what should be in our shopping baskets and what to look out for on menus. Starting alphabetically, asparagus from Germany and France – the common green variety and the white spears which are slightly milder in flavour and more tender. Artichokes and aubergines, broad beans and broccoli, cauliflower, courgettes and chard, radishes and red chicory, samphire and spinach. For fruit, it’s mangoes and rhubarb, and with the berry season hotting up, raspberries and strawberries. Let’s not forget the local produce I mentioned early on.

So do you think seasonal produce and where possible local, should champion over organic?

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