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Scape to victory

My lovely greengrocer, Crescent Fruiterer, tweeted me the other day. They’d ordered something new and thought I’d be interested. Scapes are only harvested once a year and the crop is only 72kg. This explains why they cost £25 a kilo. There’s about forty quid’s worth in the picture above. The shop was going to have two of those seventy-two kilos. They’re used in Chinese food I think. Well, the Chinese seem to be total omnivores so I think you could say that about almost everything.

I looked at the scapes. They’re beautiful, aren’t they, all together in a box. They’re the flowering stem of garlic. I took a large handful. We talked about the best way to cook them. My greengrocer went out to the back to fetch them. He’d never seen them before. His clever daughter had ordered them for the shop. We decided that I should cook them like asparagus, squeeze a lemon over them at the end.

I let some butter foam in a hot pan and added the shoots. They took slightly longer than the thin stems of asparagus I had. I threw in some broad beans because I love them and yellow courgette for utter beauty. Then a splash of white wine to help steam the beans. Basil might have been a nice addition, if only I’d had any, or some chervil, if ever you can find some. The scapes had a mild garlic taste. They were lovely. It was a great spring vegetable stew that I ate with a thin piece of breaded veal. I might add them near the end of a chicken supreme I’m braising later. They’d be beautiful curled on top of a pea soup. Wonderful with sea bass or any white fish. I just went back to try to score some more and they’d almost gone in a day, so if you want them get to Belsize Village quickly. Once my handful is used up I have to wait another year before I can have them again. You might have to wait a year, too. Cruel.

Scapes, asparagus, broad beans and yellow courgette. Photo by Simon Wilder

Scapes, asparagus, broad beans and yellow courgette. Photo by Simon Wilder

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