Savour the flavours of autumnBy Ben Zagorski
September 27, 2012
With autumn now arriving, Ben Zagorski looks at some of the fresh ingredients heading to your plate
Summer has officially gone and the nights are now drawing in. As each season changes, I get so excited about the prospect of the new ingredients that become available.
Followers of my writing will know how passionate I am about eating seasonally. It’s all about using the best ingredients when they are at their best and (rather to the contrary) when they are at their cheapest.
Of course, these days it’s not just the food produced for the family table that gets my creative juices flowing, because I now have the pub (The Star Inn in Waltham St Lawrence) to think about and I’m so eager to get working on our autumn menu as well as planning one for the upcoming winter.
September brings us beautifully sweet lamb and deep-flavoured venison, both of which can stand up for themselves quite handsomely whether that be simply grilled lamb cutlets glazed with thyme infused butter or maybe a wonderfully seared and tender fillet of wild venison served with herby mashed potatoes and an intensely rich gravy.
Sea bass is also fantastic at this time of year, it just needs to be quickly pan-fried, and partners beautifully with braised fennel. Serve this with some crispy sautéed potatoes and you’ll be wondering how something so simple can taste so good.
Why not take a walk off the beaten track and just help yourself to the abundance of blackberries that line the footpaths?
Why not ask that neighbour down the road if they mind you helping yourself to a few of the juicy apples that are just ripening on the tree in their garden?
Why stop there? Plums, pears and damsons are all just waiting to be made into the most delicious crumbles, pies and jams.
While cooking with premium cuts of meat and delicate fish can be quick and simple, the opposite can be said for the cheaper cuts. Cooking great food on a budget can be a labour of love and, these days, it’s not just the financial aspect that holds us back. In this modern era, the biggest threat to traditional British cuisine is time – we all have so little of it available that many dishes that were once the backbone of Britain are all too often missing from the family table.
At the pub we’ll be concentrating our efforts on reviving some of these autumnal British classics, dishes that evoke memories and give comfort and dishes that will really come into their own once the nights darken and the flickering flames of our open fires are taking the chill out of the approaching wintery air.
It has been a fantastic summer for the whole of the United Kingdom, with our Olympic and Paralympic heroes inspiring us and showing just why there is a ‘Great’ in Great Britain.
Perhaps, as we move towards winter, we can champion something else that makes us great, namely our unbeatable produce and our distinct food heritage.