A sunny Sunday afternoon was upon us and we decided to set off for a drive with a picnic bag in the boot for an alfresco lunch in the country. As we drove heading ever nearer to the Cotswolds, we decided to take a pit stop first at a pub that comes highly recommended by our friends - The Fleece Inn in Bretforton near Evesham (www.thefleeceinn.co.uk).
Upon arrival, we saw that the Asparagus Festival was taking place, celebrating all that is good about these lovely green speared vegetables. (Other events are scheduled - see the website - www.britishasparagusfestival.org ).
Other than it being a delicious veggie and it being at its peak this time of year, I didn't realised what a wealth of history comes with it.
Three square miles of Worcestershire is dedicated to the crop and combined with the crop fields in the West Midlands, it provides the majority of the UK's yield with none of it being exported outside of the UK - all consumed by us Brits!
The Vale of Evesham is renown for the production of asparagus or 'Gras' as it's known locally and hence the festivities are centred here. Tradition states that the Asparagus Season commences on St George's Day (23rd April) and ends on Midsummer's Day (21st June) adhering to the old saying "never cut beyond the midsummer bud".
The Festival was marked by the pub's menu boasting asparagus biased dishes, and there were stalls selling asparagus inspired goodies as well as bundles of the vegetable itself, fresh from the nearby Vale of Evesham. One of the specialities was Asparagus ice cream, created especially for the season by Bretforton's very own 'Spot Loggins' organic ice cream company (www.spotloggins.com). Deliciously creamy and tasty, it was a unique opportunity to try it, a great alternative to standard vanilla! Check out their website for stockists and also for a list of other flavours including another seasonal treat - Lavender.
Providing recipe inspirations for your asparagus bundle, was the 'Wot's Cooking' demo stage with award winning Worcestershire restaurant owner and chef Felice Toccini (www.fusionbrasserie.com) offering great menu suggestions such as chickpea flour pancakes with goats cheese & asparagus! (www.wotscooking.co.uk)
Bretforton is quintessentially English, a Cotswold gem, with The Fleece Inn providing that ye olde English charm beckoning you to stay for more lashings of ginger beer - which is exactly what we did! What was initially a pit stop became our picnic spot and we stayed for the whole afternoon.
However, we missed the Festival's highlight of the Asparagus Auction, where local growers donate large amounts of asparagus which are auctioned off for charity. Afterall, I couldn't stay, I had my asparagus to cook!
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