I usually have a few days struggling to get back into the swing of things and my life over here, but this time seemed easier, maybe because I have been here for 12 years now, or because I am older, and oh so much wiser (hem hem), but I think most of all because I am on the right track, I think I've finally clicked and got it, I can appreciate the amazing produce, not just the produce but the fact that you can live off LOCAL produce, not green beans from Kenya and oranges from Spain.
I struggled to shop locally in the supermarket where I was staying, deciding I didn't want to buy from elsewhere in the world. There are little farm shops that have fabulous produce, don't get me wrong, and as I left the hedgerows were groaning with plump blackberries and the first of the apples were just about ripe. I met a wonderful lady who creates award winning artisan made jellies, relishes and fruit cheeses, being inspired by her childhood of foraging in hedgerows and fields for wild food, which is local and seasonal.
There are so many reasons to eat locally and I think one of the most important ones is to get excited about the changing of the seasons and what's going to be next....actually having to wait for something in this crazy fast paced grabby world. Slow it down, take a deep breath, enjoy the seasons and the different flavours that they bring. Which brings me to Southampton Homestead and Farm and their amazing chickens which we are using for our broth and dishes we create. You can read all about them and their terrific and arduous journey to get to where they are now.
1 large onion (or a dozen crow garlic bulbs if you want to be truly wild), peeled and finely chopped
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock, (from The Kitchen on the Cape of course)
1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp crème fraîche
A few drops of extra-virgin olive oil
A few drops of Tabasco
Wearing rubber gloves, sort through the nettles, discarding anything you don't like the look of and any thick stalks. Wash the nettles and drain in a colander.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook gently for 5-7 minutes until softened.
Add the stock, nettles, potato and carrot. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the potato is soft, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Using an electric hand-held stick blender, purée the soup and then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into warmed bowls and float a teaspoonful of creme fraiche on top. As this melts, swirl in a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and Tabasco.