Sunday, March 01, 2009

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Dedwydd! *

The first of March - Saint David's Day.

With daffodil Tete a Tete bursting into bloom throughout the garden, I thought I'd be contrary and write about that other emblem of Wales - the leek.

During the summer on the allotment I tend to frown at them a lot - they take up a lot of space for a long period of time. They take forever to get from chive size to anything resembling the pencil size that they are supposed to reach before transplanting. But when little else on the plot is providing us with a harvest, the leeks come into their own. Last year I grew Bleu de Solaise, which looked good throughout the mild winter of 07/08 but rapidly flowered as the spring came. The flowers were spectacular, but made the leeks inedible. This year, I have Bandit. Very good, very tasty and not yet starting to send up flowers. we've got quite a few of them - just as well I love leeks. They've been added to pretty much everyting we've eaten over the past few weeks (apart from the parsnip cake, though they may well have improved it!).

There is a British Leeks website which has a range of recipes and a competition. Wikipedia will tell you about their history and use as a Welsh emblem.

A couple of the simplest ways to cook leeks are either roasted with a small amount of butter (just wrap the leek and the butter in some foil and put in the oven) or cook sliced leeks in butter until softened, wait for them to cool, then add some balsamic vinegar. Lovely.

I could only find one quote relating to leeks, but it seems quite apt:
Le poireau, c'est l'asperge du pauvre. -Thibault (leeks are the asparagus of the poor).

One final reason why I love leeks - who couldn't like a vegetable whose roots look like the moustaches of a walrus?

Oh, OK - here's a picture of that other Welsh emblem too...

Allegedly, it is illegal for a Welshman to enter Chester before sunrise or after sunset. Difficult, seeing as nowadays some parts of Chester are now in Wales.

*Happy Saint David's Day (apparently - apologies if I've not got it quite right).


chaiselongue said...

Dydd Gwyl Dewi llawen i tithau hefyd! I like the leeks post - and the walrus moustache! I've put daffodils on the blog, but will be eating leeks this evening.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Happy, that is pretty harsh for the poor innocent Welsh population. Does Prince Charles count too? I tried to grow leeks last year and they never got beyond the chive stage, and a very skinny chive at that so have given up. I like the idea of roasting with butter in foil, that seems pretty fool proof and delicious, thanks!

Anna said...

Mmmmm - I do like leeks. Have never roasted them so will give that a go. Thanks for the idea. Funnily enough I have ' Bleu de Solaise' seeds which I was thinking about sowing soon. You have made me have second thoughts. I left it late last year so just had very mini leeks. I had not realised that some parts of Chester were now in Wales. I usually get to Chester a couple of times a month so will have to take my passport next time :)

HappyMouffetard said...

Hi Anna,
Bleu de Solaise were very nice - I think they just started growing early as it was such a mild winter last year. I would grow them again.
Some of the outlying suburbs of Chester have grown into Wales.

Anonymous said...

How interesting. I didn't know about St. David's Day, but I have grown leeks. They take *forever* to come into their own, don't they. Nice to read your blog.~~Dee

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I have never tasted a leek or tried to grow one. I'm not sure what I'd do with one. They are funny looking.

Anonymous said...

Happy St Davids Day to you too Happy M. I wanted to do a flower arrangement of leeks and daffs - but could only find trimmed leeks in the shop. And we have none in the kitchen garden. so it is great to see your leeks

Nutty Gnome said...

I've still got leeks in the ground from last year - but I'm off to dig them up to have for tea tonight. I think I'll do the one with balsamic vinegar....mmmm!

Lucy Corrander said...

Love tete-a-tetes, them and those wacking great daffodils with deep orange trumpets.

Would the Bleu de Solaise be pretty enough to grow in the garden for fun?

And are you making a speciality of growing French sounding plants, to go with your nom de plume?