Charlotte is the Assistant Manager in the Restaurant Nathan Outlaw front-of-house team. With a background in and fervent passion for the restaurant industry, serving fantastic food and wine in this idyllic location seemed the ideal ‘home’ when joining Nathan in 2010. She loves being fully immersed into the wonderful world of Cornwall and fresh fish, writing about the menu, visits to the suppliers and day-to-day life of Restaurant Nathan Outlaw. Click here to read Charlotte’s full bio.
In The Asparagus Garden
For around six weeks of the year, the smiles on our chefs’ faces are even wider than usual due to the fact that it the season for St. Enodoc asparagus. We are incredibly fortunate to be neighbours to the source of some of the best asparagus in the country – it grows in a picturesque field just down the lane.
This week I rose bright and early on a perfect summer morning to meet Jax, the head of this part of the family business, at the dew-kissed field (another great excuse to crack out the wellies!). As I headed down to the field the view was certainly a poignant reminder of why I fell in love with Cornwall. Straight ahead there is Daymer Bay beach backing onto the marvellous estuary, with Brae Hill sheltering on the left with the 16th Century St. Enodoc Church, from where the company takes its name, lying slightly inland from it. Not many asparagus spears can boast such a location, with a perfect childhood growing up so close to the Camel Estuary.
Asparagus is always something to look forward to and savour, however St. Enodoc Asparagus is exceptionally special. Jax has years of experience since starting in 1991, fully dedicate herself to these carefully selected specific varietals; growing, nurturing, cutting and delivering them personally to our kitchen. The field itself has a base of sand… with the asparagus in ‘rows’, but with a wonderful irregularity that conveys their natural growth. Their practice is to grow outdoors without covers and benefit not only from every beam of the very regular Cornish sunlight, but also a secret ingredient of the crisp breeze and natural sea salt coming across from Daymer.
In order to retain quality, the family keep their yields low and therefore produce for just a small selection of lucky restaurants in the country. Aesthetically we also love that there are some anomalies to their shape and size; truly showing that they have grown just as nature intended, without being manipulated and prodded into a uniform profile.
We are incredibly happy to have them so close and to have a great relationship as this means that we have a unique advantage to have our asparagus cut from the field to order and have it arrive just after – a measure which means it couldn’t possibly be fresher! The wholesome quality bursts through, apparent in the vibrant colour and through the wetness at its base where the natural essences are retained on their very short and quick journey to us. Transferring into the cooking, the excellence is apparent from how tender it is and by the low cooking time it takes as a result of being newly picked.
Nathan and the team are currently putting this to brilliant use in our delicious ‘main course’ of the tasting menu – Turbot on the bone, St. Enodoc Asparagus and Tartare Sauce. The wonderfully meaty turbot and slight crunch of asparagus and team up with the superbly balanced sauce to create a run of flavours that allows each one to be shown individually but together could take over the world.
The only slight danger of this delicious vegetable is that for any spare spears at the end of the night, there is a clambering contest between the team to ‘retry’ them; you learn to move quickly to the plate as even without any accompaniments or cooking they are incredible to snack on!