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Learn to love February

Well it only seems a moment since we were feasting on Christmas turkey, gammon and beef, but after a month when most of us rein back on rich food – whether to tighten our wallets or our belts – February comes along and reminds us to treat our loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

The day of romance dates back to the 14th century and it was Chaucer (he of The Canterbury Tales fame) who wrote about the legend of Saint Valentine. Flowers and chocolates have their place, but if you’re planning a special home-cooked meal for your other half, a good steak is an absolute winner of a dish.

Believed to have aphrodisiac powers, a fantastic fillet, sirloin or rump, served bistro style with frites and a Bernaise or peppercorn sauce is a guaranteed way to warm their hearts.

Now as much as I love the high quality, locally farmed beef which is on our counters, I do urge you to try venison too. Lean, rich in flavour and meltingly tender, a venison steak is wondrous and a great choice to ring the changes. Grab a bottle of red from our select wines in-store and you’re sorted for a great night in, any day of the week, month or year.

This month sees the arrival of new produce in-store and one of my favourites is purple sprouting broccoli. Its tender stalks somehow bridge the transition from winter’s cruciferous vegetable medley to the promise of delicate spears of asparagus to come in just a few months’ time from Sharrington’s fields.

Forced rhubarb also comes into its own this month, with long pink stems that are ripe for a tasty crumble (unmissable with hot, fresh custard!), gently cooked and stirred into thick yoghurt for breakfast, or as an accompaniment to roast pork on Sunday.

So, if it’s cold, grey and wet outside, take comfort in these simple culinary pleasures that are packed with colour and flavour and are easy ways to carry you all the way through to spring.