Hops grow perennially. After harvest in September the plant dies, but then when the sunshine of spring comes it begins to grow again, shooting from the ground and able to grow up to six inches a day.
These fresh shoots can be picked when they poke through the ground and cooked as a vegetable. When fully grown into hop cones, they are incredibly bitter and inedible, but as hop shoots they are similar to asparagus or samphire.
When the team returns from picking, they’ll take their harvest straight to the Horseshoe kitchen and start cooking. The shoots will be served up as soon as possible and on the bar will be all the Camden Town beers and a few others from around London.
The hop shoot picking has been arranged by the London Brewers Alliance and a large group will be going to Kent before sending the shoots to pubs around London (there’s a list here) for them to start cooking – with the race on to be the first to serve them up.
On the menu at the Horseshoe will be: Whole plaice with hop shoots; Blythburgh pork chop and hop shoots; and a Saturday brunch of Kent hop shoots, poached egg, English muffin, hollandaise sauce. There might also be some other things…
Tables at the Horseshoe can be booked on 0207 7431 7206. There should be hop shoots on the menu on Friday and Saturday. And if anyone wants to jump in our van and come down to Kent with us, then just email email@example.com – we’re leaving London at 8am and there’s four places.