‘Tis the season for richer game-flavoured dishes thanks to in-season game meats and woodland crops. Our forests are generous with a wealth of delights for us to choose from and we explore the seasonal delight of mushrooms.
There are hundreds of common mushroom varieties such as button and brown mushroom buts some of the tastiest include field mushrooms, morels, oyster mushrooms and blewits. Field mushrooms are delicious with sautéed butter and herbs and are found in summer and autumn in rich open manured grasslands grazed by horses or cows. Morels are best cooked with a touch of cream and chopped chives – they have a light honeycomb pattern and a delicate scent. Oyster mushrooms are found in later autumn and have a very mild flavour – they are delicious fricasseed or sautéed with garlic or finished with cream on a steak.
Mushrooms are so versatile and go well with many other ingredients such as shellfish, poultry and meat. Wild game (also in season) with wild mushrooms is an especially good match – they are made for each other. Mushrooms are also a great option for vegetarians.
The flavour texture and scent of wild mushrooms, available either dried or fresh are very distinct – cultivated mushrooms are more widely available but are no match for the unique appeal of their wild cousins!
There is so much choice for fresh produce in September and to celebrate the wonderful crop of seasonal vegetables, our kitchen team showcases the best in season to create the colours of autumn on your plate.
Just as the heady days of Summer wane, crops spoil us with a wealth of colourful health-giving produce that are prime for creating comforting, warming dishes ideal for crisp mornings and chilly afternoons.
Succulent, lip-smacking raspberries and pears are ideal on top of muesli or to create an energising smoothie. We’ve showcased this on our vegetarian menu with our delicious dessert: ‘raspberry and beetroot with marinated strawberry in port with wild strawberry sorbet’. Also you might spy a raspberry or two in our afternoon tea cakes!
The tartness and fleshiness of plums and greengage make up our dessert of walnut praline and greengage coulis with sautéed plums.
The fresh produce in autumn makes creating vegetarian recipes easy. For example, layering vegetables in a baking dish with garlic and herbs to create a vegetable gratin is very easy yet supremely tasty and health-giving. Kale, potatoes, squash and swede are really filling too.
This July, we will introduce new luxury teas to our Afternoon Tea experience from Lalani & Co. Far removed from the ‘English Cuppa’, more like a fine wine or whisky, their batch teas come from family-run gardens throughout the world and are chosen for their exquisite flavour from particular elevations. This is the first in a new series on artisanal tea.
Buying tea is very much like buying whisky: some are blended and some are single-batch. Also like whisky, you get various qualities and styles, and this all comes down to the people who grow the plants as well as the plantation’s location.
The pleasure comes in the taste and there is a gulf of difference between PG tips and single batch darjeeling or oolong for example. Season, soil, elevation and producer all affect flavour characteristics and the best teas express the best flavour of their region: some batches will be exceptional, some will be average, some will be low end. This spectrum occurs even within a year on the same garden.
The very best single batch teas are made as a luxury craft with the same artisan skill as a family vineyard or a small whisky distillery. Single batch teas also offer seasonally changing flavour profiles, much as with fine wine, offering expression of their terroir which whispers its provenance story to you palate with every sip.
Throught the world’s tea trade, most batches are sold into the markets and blended, but some will be kept as single batch teas. These are normally the better tasting batches and are what will be used here.
When you taste a batch and know the story behind it, it opens up a whole new enjoyment and understanding of tea and flavour.
Fish plays a big part on our menu and sustainable line-caught or certified organic fish, including hand-dived scallops is something we are committed to and believe in strongly. Here, Executive Chef Daniel Galmiche highlights the wonders of mackerel, tuna and crab and their wine pairing, all in-season now.
The sustainability of fish is a big issue these days and is very important that I find the right suppliers who will provide the best possible fish that is also sourced from sustainable stocks. It is too easy to forget that most species are overfished and therefore becoming expensive, as well as increasingly rare.
The beautiful mackerel with its black and blue stripes, full of omega-3 fatty acids and packed with goodness is delicious grilled, smoked, pan-roasted, whole or in fillet form. Lime works with the flavour of the fish really well. Depending on how it is served, medium-bodied crisp whites such as Muscadet, Gavi di Gavi or Picpoul de Pinet work very well with this fish.
I also adore tuna, especially blue fin tuna which is incredibly rare. I source yellow-fin or skipjack tuna instead. I love tuna raw, pan-fried or marinated and it is delicious also in a Niçoise salad. This fish works well with rich full-bodied whites such as Australian Chardonnay, or light-bodied reds such as a New Zealand Pinot Noir.
Crab is now in season and when selecting crab meat to buy, as with every fish, it is so important to buy fresh, quality produce from a good source. Crabs should look undamaged and feel heavy for their size. Again this works well with aromatic medium-dry whites such as South African Chenin Blanc or crisp dry whites such as unoaked Chardonnay.
Locally-sourced and seasonal produce is absolutely our aim, with 90 percent or more of our foodstuffs hailing from Britain, and local farmers very much being our main suppliers. Executive Chef Daniel Galmiche has ‘picked’ the star vegetable of the moment- asparagus.
May heralds asparagus season
Late spring is harvest time for asparagus, both green and white – a mere seven or eight week season – and the best is whatever you can buy locally. You can often get hold of it throughout the year, but as ever I like to get seasonal, locally sourced produce, not only because it truly does taste better.
Green asparagus has more of an intense nutty flavour than white varieties and really works well with creamier sauces, such as hollandaise. I like to keep the flavours simple so you can appreciate the freshness and flavour of this wonderful vegetable.
Preparation is key and often it will naturally snap between your fingers at just the right place – to do this, when you cut it, hold a spear from both ends and bend.
When you cook asparagus, remove the bundle from the pan and plunge it into ice cold water. This helps to keep the chlorophyll (and therefore the goodness and colour) locked in.
Depending on how it is prepared, this vegetable is best served with a lovely glass of medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, such as white Graves when served simply, or white Burgundy when served with Hollandaise sauce. Currently we have a number of asparagus dishes available at The Vineyard.
And…when the asparagus season is over, leeks make a great alternative!
A couple of weeks ago I was very fortunate indeed to have been invited to the launch of Thomas Keller’s pop up restaurant at Harrods. Knowing that he was there for only 10 days, I knew I was very lucky.
I have been at his table before, years ago, with some other very famous Chefs, so I was very excited about it.
We had a lunch representing his trademark dishes made by his team and himself, created using his own imported produce, in a wonderful pop up dining room. Great day overall, not easy when you consider you are performing abroad, but I was not surprised as he is a great professional.
Daniel Galmiche Executive Chef The Vineyard at Stockcross
Working as an assistant sommelier at The Vineyard at Stockcross, it was fantastic news when I learnt that I was going to have the opportunity to work at a pop-up restaurant at Harrods with teams from Michelin star restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se, both owned by one of the world’s most influential chefs, Thomas Keller.
Starting on 30th September and finishing on 10th October, it was really more than just an experience to work in a pop up restaurant. I think every one of us considered it to be ‘our’proper restaurant, seeing all the preparation it required and learning new ways of service. I very much enjoyed working and sharing the experience with the whole team.
What did I learn from being part of this exciting event? The pride to have participated in this event with fantastic people, to have had the opportunity to taste excellent wines, and to have been a part of the success of the great nine course tasting menu created using local American products.
It was hard work for all of us, but if anyone would have asked if we were ready to continue for a further 11 more days, without any doubt the answer would have been yes!
The Vineyard at Stockcross – http://www.the-vineyard.co.uk/index.asp
Find out more about Per Se in New York – http://www.perseny.com/
Find out more about The French Laundry in California –http://www.frenchlaundry.com/
We only use Riedel wine glasses at The Vineyard, probably because over the past fifty years, this has become the only real choice for the wine enthusiast, wine expert, or indeed anybody wanting to really enjoy wine in a well-made piece of stemware that really brings out the best in the grape. That’s why I was quite honoured to be part of a team to create a new glass to celebrate the Bacchus grape, grown extensively (and exceptionally well) in England. Our location for this workshop was Camel Valley Vineyards in Cornwall, home of some of England’s best wines and multi-award winners. Camel Valley was founded just over twenty years agoand the feature wine of the tasting was their single vineyard Darnibole Bacchus wine.
The workshop was chaired by Georg Riedel and started with fourteen different glass shapes that had been considered by the Riedel factory. Our teams then whittled the glasses down to seven, followed by three, then down to the final one. The selection was made by pouring the same wine into each stem and assessing colour, aroma, and palate. The best glass expressed Bacchus perfectly – a citrus-fruit, high acid wine with lovely soft notes of peach and other stone fruit. Apart from anything else, this tasting proved that English wine has “come of age” and really competes on an international platform.
And the winning glass? Well, it’s rather unromantic prototype reference is 6416/33 and has a deep, narrow bowl to capture all those aromatics. It’ll be available later this year as “English Bacchus” and you’ll be able to enjoy a nicely chilled glass in our restaurant!
Director of Wine
The Vineyard Group
Salads are a great summer favourite of mine. Read on to find out about my top salad tips and my five favourite summer salads.
Top Salad Tips
- New potatoes are best used in salads. Make sure they are nice and firm and not over cooked.
- The key to a good salad is to make it on the day with fresh produce, it makes all the difference.
My Top 5 Salads
- My favourite is a potato and salmon salad. I like to poach the salmon and leave it whole. I combine the potatoes with finely cut spring onion and tarragon, and then add a little of my homemade mayonnaise – perfect.
- Second on my list is my traditional French Nicoise salad. I like to combine fresh lettuce leaves with tuna, ripe tomatoes, olives, anchovies and potatoes. Also part boil small quails eggs until the yoke is a perfect colour and add these to the salad.
- One of my favourites is my cucumber salad. I love cucumber! Peel the cucumber and then sprinkle sea salt on top as it will soak up the excess liquid. Then rinse and dry well. I simply add a few chives and serve with home made French dressing made with a little mustard and cream – extremely refreshing!
- Tomato salad so simple, yet delicious! This salad is great with sweet French white onion, but if you can’t find that then a red onion would work equally as well. Add a sprinkle of sea salt, olive oil, basil and a few slices of mozzarella, and then it is ready to eat.
- Fifth on my list is rice salad. Rice can be so versatile and works really well with sweetcorn and peppers. I usually mix these ingredients together with French dressing or vinaigrette.
I hope you enjoy my favourite salads as much as I do!
Daniel Galmiche, Executive Head Chef
Here’s a recipe for a deliciously simple summer drink that’s popular with many of our guests at The Vineyard. We hope you love it as much as we do!
Strawberry and Elderflower Sour
5 fresh strawberries
50ml lemon Juice
25ml elderflower cordial
Method (Makes 1 drink)
- Muddle the strawberries together with the lemon juice
- Add the elderflower cordial and shake hard with ice
- Pour into a high ball glass and top with lemonade
- Garnish with a strawberry and a twist of lemon.
Why not stop off at The Vineyard for a refreshing summer drink with a luxurious seasonal lunch and enjoy the sunshine and relaxing atmosphere on our terrace. http://www.the-vineyard.co.uk/menus.asp
Head Sommelier at The Vineyard.