IT’S difficult sometimes. The seasons rotate without failure; right now, wild garlic pushes up through the soil and carpets the woodlands, sorrel appears vibrant and lush, forests of nettles grow, achingly green with nutrients full to bursting. All there for the picking and free of charge if you know where to find them, not difficult in this part of the world.

We turn it into nettle, sorrel and garlic risotto, using homemade vegetable stock, or wild garlic leaf pesto, nettle and sorrel soup. Lovage too is shooting up, with flavours of celery, crossed with curry leaf, magical in any salad and uplifting in an early, chilled lettuce, pea and spinach soup. Rhubarb too, bright pink, tender of stem and poached in honey and lovage, which we sit on goat’s cheese, blowtorched to add colour and flavour, on a toasted sourdough slice.

Customers find many of the ingredients tricky or a bit weird, and will shy away, making it difficult to create a reasonably safe menu for the 120 guests they’ve invited to their event in April or May. Even risotto primavera is a difficult sell, hosts worry that their guests will think they’ve gone all vegetarian on them. I call to mind those words in the world of hospitality that fill me with dread. There’s the classic; ‘red or white’ and my worst offender; ‘vegetarian option.’

Alternative option always sounds bad. ‘You can have the butterflied leg of saltmarsh lamb, marinated for 48 hours in fresh thyme, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, smoked paprika, black pepper and cumin seeds, cooked over charcoal, with burnt rosemary sprigs. Or you can have the vegetarian option. Not sure but I think it’s got aubergine in it.’

Or ‘The buttermilk-soaked halloumi in crispy chip shop batter, topped with lemony Yemeni relish, served with minty mushy peas, vodka spiked grape tomatoes, pickled quails’ eggs and sea salad tartare sauce. Or you can have the meat option, not sure which end of the pig it comes from’. (The buttermilk dish comes from the magnificent Terre a Terre cookbook by Amanda Powley and Philip Taylor.)

I’m not a vegetarian, I just don’t eat a great deal of meat, preferring fish, vegetables, grains, pulses and beans. Happily, that fits with the way the world is evolving. When talking through menu ideas with clients, I normally start with a few great salad dishes, compelling, colourful, entertaining as they adorn the centre of any dining table, throw in some exotic grains like freekeh or pearled spelt, folded through with griddled peppers, courgettes and asparagus, with a side of freshly griddled squid or sautéed clams with plenty of Mediterranean flavours.

It’s a battle to keep up with the plethora of seasonal food that offers itself up to us to eat each revolving year. It’s more of a battle to convince people to try and enjoy it.

Martin Simcock

Owner and Head Chef at Bread and Flowers Catering