A TASTE OF ITALY, GROWN IN HEREFORDSHIRE
Taken from Herefordshire Life Magazine
Only the most fashionable ingredients have numerous names. This in vogue vegetable is no exception. You may know it as barba di frate, agretti, saltwort, land seaweed, monk’s beard, friar’s beard, roscani or agretto. Or (and don’t worry it was new to us too), you may be yet to discover this gastronomic gem.
To keep things simple, we’ll refer to it as barba di frate from here on in. So what exactly is it you may well be wondering? The unusual vegetable hails from Italy. It has chive like leaves and a slightly acidic taste similar to spinach. It has a high concentration of potassium and calcium and is rich in vitamins A, B and C. It’s low in calories and boasts detoxifying properties.
The sought-after ingredient has previously been restricted to annual cameo appearances on top restaurant menus, due to its short-lived eight to twelve week season when it’s imported from Italy. However, expect to see more of these vibrant green fronds with award-winning Herefordshire Salad producer, Amanda Stradling (owner of Wye Valley Salads) growing a succulent supply in the Wye Valley.
Barba di frate shot to foodie fame a few years ago, appearing on the likes of Master Chef and the menu at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant. But other avant-garde chefs have long been fans of the food – including the acclaimed Franco Taruschio (founder of The Walnut Tree) who introduced the ingredient to foodies back in 1963 and whom Amanda Stradling has been supplying for the past eight years.
With Amanda now able to continuously grow and supply restaurants with the vegetable from April till October, there should be plenty of time for you to try it for yourself. The Mill Race pub in Walford, Herefordshire, have long been fond of Wye Valley Salads’ fresh produce, and have previously featured Amanda Stradling’s barba di frate on the menu.