In Connemara, our winters are generally mild and damp, but with crisp blue skies that are beautifully reflected in the waters of Lough Corrib.
This is the time when our gardeners are busy preparing to harvest spring cabbage, tenderstem broccoli and salad leaves that have been grown in our kitchen gardens, for our Executive Chefs Philippe Farineau and Jonathan Keane to create delicious seasonal menus. In the Walled Garden, seeds for leeks, peas, broad beans, kale and carrots will soon be sown, to be harvested over the coming months.
We are always delighted to discover new ingredients across the Ashford Estate, and it is a source of particular comfort for our team during this time when the Castle and The Lodge are closed to forage for fresh produce, as they walk or cycle across the 350 acres of countryside that surrounds us.
Wild garlic, also known as ramsons, will be with us soon, and The Lodge's Executive Chef Jonathan Keane plans to create oils with the leaves and to pickle the seeds, to garnish his exceptional creations in Wilde's once we are able to reopen. The team will also use garlic grass to make flavoured butter to be served in the George V restaurant.
This is the season for sea truffles that we forage from the dramatic coastline at Old Head. Our chefs will dry and grind this fragranced seaweed to use as a seasoning through a new pasta dish, with a surprising truffle aroma. Pepper dillisk is hand-harvested at this time of year - as the name indicates, it has a peppery taste with a hint of garlic flavour, and will be pickled as a garnish for Jonathan's sea truffle pasta.
Our Resort Executive Head Pastry Chef Paula Stakelum has also been busy exploring the Estate and finding the perfect foraged ingredients to adorn her exquisite chocolates and pastries. Pine tips will be picked and used to infuse oil for chocolates that Paula will make in the autumn, and sorrel will be picked and frozen to preserve its citrus flavour.