Friday, 14 September 2012

September 2012

After a disappointing late spring, and to be honest most of the summer, finally we have had some wonderful weather; those gloriously golden days of late summer and early autumn have arrived. Flying insects have been absent and our late sown Broad Beans hardly cropped (no Bumble Bees). The better weather has resulted in Red Admirals, Peacocks and Brimstones appearing and heads of Sedums studded with Honey Bees. One upside to the rain has been the lack of Cabbage White Caterpillars!

Our Summer Cabbages were a great success with the kitchens and out in the vegetable garden are now rows of Savoy and January King Cabbages as well as Cavelo Nero and Red Russian Kales. Mark will also soon be planting out some good sized Spring Cabbage plants for next year; meanwhile Graham Grafton, our Chef, is showcasing the current crops in the Potager restaraunt.

Barnsley Soup au Pistou is a mixed vegetable soup; but instead of the usual minestrone pasta, Graham uses Haricot Beans and the pesto thickening is Sweet Genovese Basil and Giant Napoli Parsley, both from the garden.  Graham makes ‘super sized’ Ravioli with a courgette and wild mushroom filling, it really caught my eye and to give it its proper title this pasta is ‘Agnolo’. The Agnolo and the Soup are lighter bites; although the pasta can be served as a main.  I also like the Warm Tomato Tart made with ‘Country Taste’ toms and served with a Garden Salsa Verde and Courgette Fritters, dipped in milk then flour then hot oil...lovely. Many of Graham’s meat dishes show an imaginative partnering with our vegetables...for example the Tamworth Pork Belly is served with braised Red Drumhead intensified with grated dark beetroot! The Angus fillet is teamed up with ‘Red Brunswick’ and ‘Long Red Florence’ onions agro dolce (sweet and sour).

Carrots get dry roasted to go with other meats and we have three colours  yellow ‘Jaune du Doubs’, purple ‘Cosmic Purple’ and the usual orange varieties such as ‘Chantenay Royal’ and soon to come on stream ‘Autumn King’. ‘Prize Winner’ runner beans appear in a seasoned and buttered medley of peas, coco beans and girolles; whilst another under rated vegetable, Chard, appears alongside the Great Farm Chicken. We have an array of colours in our Chard; white, yellow, orange, green, pink, red and all stems delicious with the added bonus of the leafy part being used like spinach. In fact I’d defy you to tell the difference!

These are just a few  of the culinary destinations our vegetables arrive at,  constantly changing with the seasons.... For example the great squash harvest is about to begin with ‘Crown Prince’, ‘Turk’s Turban’, ‘Buttercup’ ,  ‘Red Kuri’ and ‘Marina di Chioggia’ all heading Graham’s way where culinary alchemy awaits!

Ooh! Nearly forgot our beautiful eggs. We have a small flock of chickens that lay rich brown eggs; apart from one black bird that lays a pale green egg!  We acquired our birds from Patrick Bournes of P & S Eggs in Stowe, he is our egg supplier.

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