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ANDREW EDMUNDS: ON SEASONALITY
“Summer is coming quickly,” says Tom Trubshaw, head chef at Andrew Edmunds, “and this year means a summer like no other.”
London’s quintessential date night restaurant is admittedly more of a winter spot - housed in an 18th century townhouse, secluded nooks and crannies filled with tables for two are lit by flickering candlelight. This year, with tables spilling out onto streets across Soho, summer for London’s restaurants is set to be busier than ever.
As the hungry gap passes and the weather warms up, an abundance of British and European fruit and vegetables begins to stream through kitchen doors. For chefs, it’s a time for tasting, experimenting, and racing against time to catch produce at the peak of its season.
Much of his fruit and vegetables come from Natoora, which sources radically seasonal produce from sustainable crops from the UK, Italy, France and beyond.
At this time of year, “we’re a bit like a test kitchen.” Even a straightforward dish like a classic Caesar salad - a summer favourite in its simplest form - requires taste tests for everything from texture to consistency of flavour. The team might sample three different lettuces such as oakleaf, little gem, and butterhead before settling on a favourite; this time, oakleaf was the winner. The oak tree-shaped leaves have a slightly bitter flavour and a smooth texture and are grown by producer Patrice at his farm near the Loire where soils are rich in minerals. For dessert, an open peach trifle layered with sponge, custard and toasted almonds is made with white peaches from Italy, fragrant fruit with gently speckled skins. They’re from a farm in Campania where a grower named Domenico tends to ten different white peach varieties. Each one comes into season at different times for a brief two to three week window. Obtaining these fruits at their peak is a challenge, but the sweet, aromatic flesh is a worthy reward.
Different influences come into play thanks to the multicultural kitchen, with a mixture of nationalities including English, Irish, Italian, Portuguese and Brazilian. A dish of braised courgettes with saffron takes its cues from a rustic Italian recipe. “Saffron is a garnish we use a lot in the summertime,” says Tom. “Everything intertwines and all of our dishes complement and balance each other. That’s the way we cook.”
Of course, preserving the summer glut is one way to make it last into autumn and winter, giving a larder of flavours that can be dipped into throughout the year. A love of pickling runs through the menu at Andrew Edmunds, from sweetcorn relish made with gherkins, shallots and chillies to crunch, pickled red cabbage. It works the other way, too: deeply-flavoured winter preserves can be used to add heat to summer sauces. Piquillo peppers are hand-picked in Spain during two harvest seasons between September and December before being roasted over embers. Tom uses jarred piquillo peppers, sourced from Brindisa, for his summer romesco sauce - a Catalan favourite of charred tomatoes and peppers, thickened with almonds and bread. “Our ethos is simple: seasonal food that we love to eat,” says Tom.