Rare Recipe from Bryan Webb, Tyddyn Llan
Prior to moving to Wales, Bryan ran Hilaire in London, a restaurant highly acclaimed by the food guides. Bryan has continued to gather awards and accolades at Tyddyn Llan. His cooking is all about subtle flavours and an uncompromising attitude to sourcing the finest, freshest ingredients.
Strawberries are officially in season from late May through to mid July. There will always be someone around that has not realised that they are meant to be ripe, juicy and sweet and not boring, plastic and tasteless. A good strawberry is studded with tiny seeds that crunch against your teeth, and should have the wonderful evocative smell that prompted the Romans to call it fraga, for its fragrance.
Find strawberries that are good - at farmers markets or strawberry friendly supermarkets - then just eat them unsweetened out of your hand. Once you have bought your strawberries I would recommend storing them on a tray lined with a paper towel but not in the refrigerator. If your strawberries are inferior try sprinkling them with a little sugar, a dash of brandy and a few grinds of black pepper and leave to macerate for a few hours and serve with tangy yoghurt.
As you may have gathered I am a man of simple tastes and not one for messing around with food for the sake of invention. One dish that is impossible to improve on is Eton mess. According to Robin Weir in Recipes from the Dairy, Eton mess was served in the 1930s in the schools tuck shop and was originally made with either strawberries or bananas mixed with ice cream or cream. Meringue was a later addition. Other research says that it was served traditionally on the playing fields of Eton with a picnic after the annual prize-giving ceremony which takes place in June. Nowadays Eton Mess consists of pieces of crisp meringue, lightly whipped cream and strawberries; all stirred together - hence the name “mess” which makes it memorable summer pudding..
INGREDIENTS - MERINGUES
METHOD - MERINGUES