Madalene Bonvini-Hamel, who runs the British Larder pub and restaurant in Bromeswell, Suffolk, looks at March's prime ingredients
Spring is on its way and a few daffodils are popping up. The days are getting longer, and altogether it's a sign the earth is waking up from a long cold winter.
Wild foods are becoming available again with potent horseradish taking the lead and wild garlic to follow towards the end of March, along with wild mushrooms such as morels, provided the forest floor is not too wet.
Tubers and root vegetables are still stealing the show on the menus; however, broccoli, kale, sorrel and chicory are all becoming available right now. Meanwhile, skate, east coast cod and Norfolk mussels are at their peak; the meat is sweet and plump.
Even though mussels have a stigma of being a poor man's shellfish, they are one of the most environmentally sound to eat. Norfolk is known for its mussels, with a wide selection from Morston to Brancaster.
Mussels are only good to eat in the autumn and winter months, as the sea temperature should be as cold as possible.
Leeks are not only great for their culinary use, they also have the most beautiful flowers and brighten up any kitchen garden. The dark green parts are bitter and should be used carefully when added to stocks and sauces. Because the flavour is slightly sweeter and less intense than onions, leeks are often preferable to onions in stews and soups.
Skate is a high value fish, with its stringy flaky texture and a delicate but superb taste when fresh. It is commonly served on the bone.
Rhubarb is classed as a vegetable. The leaves are toxic and should be removed before cooking. The natural tartness of rhubarb makes it ideal for either sweet or savoury dishes.
Forced tender stem rhubarb is still considered the chef's choice. However, outdoor rhubarb, with its earthy, gutsy taste, starts to come onto the market during March. The stems are thicker than those of forced rhubarb and the skin is stringy, and requires peeling; however, the taste is still superb.
Flavours of March
Beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, chicory, clams, cockles, crab, eel, hake, Jerusalem artichokes, John Dory, kale, leeks, lemon sole, lobster, mussels, oysters, parsnips, purple sprouting broccoli, radicchio, red chicory, salad onions, salmon, scallops, sea bass, sorrel, spinach, skate, swede, rhubarb, trout, turnips, winkles
Wild food for March
Fat hen, garlic mustard, horseradish, morel mushrooms, sea beet, wild garlic.