Our big move to Suffolk in the spring gave us the opportunity to enjoy a sun filled summer and is now allowing us to reap the rewards of Autumn. Not only from the woods and fields around us but also from the patch of garden we were so glad to inhabit during the heatwaves.
Blackberries, rosehips, sloes, chestnuts, plums, apples, the list is endless. This abundant harvest presents us with the ultimate challenge of what dishes to make with the foraged items and, even more importantly, which wines to pair with them.
The rosehips have been turned into rosehip jelly which is surprisingly good with scones. Delicate, floral and aromatic it is a lovely alternative to the heavier strawberry and raspberry jams usually served with afternoon tea and goes much better with a glass of Champagne.
The sloes have of course gone into sloe gin.
The blackberries and plums have been made into a variety of desserts as well as jams thanks to the veritable glut we got of them both.
But the two that have brought the most pleasure are the chestnuts and apples.
Chestnut season brings a culinary celebration to certain regions of Italy with holidays dedicated to foraging for them and enjoying the subsequent feasts that can be made with them. And yet, very little is mentioned of the abundance we have of them in the UK.
A large array of fields and parks we’ve passed over the last few weeks are littered with the spiky burrs and shiny brown nuts with most people failing to notice the feast they are walking on. A swift half hour of collecting chestnuts under the tree in our garden produced a five kilo haul that should keep us going for a while to come.
So far we have hit upon one dish that we would happily consume every other evening if given the chance: savoy cabbage, bacon and roasted chestnut pasta. The simplicity of this dish made all the more satisfying by a bottle of Aldo Conterno’s Barbera Conca Tre Pile. The soft, sweet nuttiness of the chestnuts seems to bring more vibrancy to this Barbera and highlights the earthier tones that had gone under the radar previously.
The apples have of course gone into a number of crumbles that always satisfy the crowds on a Sunday afternoon. But, when just a few of us, a Tarte Tatin with a glass of 2001 Chateau de Malle Sauternes, hits the spot perfectly.
We do have a feast of mushrooms on our doorstep as well but I can’t say we’ve been brave enough to pick those yet – maybe next year when we’re feeling a little more confident (and find an expert to guide us!).
2014 Podere Aldo Conterno Barbera Conca Tre Pile £35 per bottle
A Barbera that has gone through phases of being open, vibrant and lush to being a little closed and monotone. It has come back to life in the last six months with an earthy sweetness that is balanced by good acidity and soft berry fruit.
2001 Chateau de Malle Sauternes Deuxième Cru £56 per bottle
2001 was a great year for Sauternes and de Malle did a wonderful job of creating a sticky, sweet wine with enough acidity to keep it fresh and vibrant on the finish.