It’s Vintage time in the Barossa! And despite the frantic pace it sets, I always revel in its timing for reasons beyond just a (hopefully) bountiful harvest; it’s when our long, hot Summers finally give way to the crispness of Autumn nights – a wonderful time to be in the Valley. By happy coincidence, it is also the time for glorious produce that begs to be made into heartier fare as the temperature drops – mushrooms, fennel, pomegranates and quinces to name a few of my favourites.
The Abundance Of Autumn
Whilst lots of travel doesn’t give me as much time as I want for gardening I grab every moment I can spare and each year there is one vegetable that shines more brightly than others and this year it’s definitely eggplant. Whilst I still have capsicums small and large and now glowing red, I had varying success with my tomatoes yet my eggplants of five different varieties just keep on bearing. I should count the different ways I can cook them one day, but my favourite of all is over a charcoal fire; one of the great flavours for me and even as I write this, with the weather now so much cooler, I have picked a huge basket of them this afternoon. Whilst that’s the star of my veggie patch, the pomegranates are also fully ripe now, and my huge persimmon tree I have encased in netting to keep the birds from, add to the table every day. The abundance of Autumn never disappoints me.
When cooking meat, my first choice for achieving maximum flavour is to cook it on the bone. I realise this isn’t always practical when making pies and stews, but I still prefer to cut the meat myself. Pre-cut meat loses so much freshness as the cut surfaces are exposed to the air. However, if you have a good butcher, and you are buying meat just before you want to cook it, by all means have them do it for you.
Pick Up Sticks
The latest addition to Maggie’s ‘sticks’ range keeps every sentiment of Summer sunshine going well beyond the season, with almond and honey as the star flavours. Maggie’s ready-to-eat version of Salted Honey & Roasted Almond Ice Cream will be an instant favourite for honey lovers, with the unmistakable aroma and full flavour of fresh honey, in combination with roasted almonds and just the right amount of salt. Coated in a layer of smooth chocolate, convenience never tasted so good!
Autumn is filled with some of my favourite produce, so a Sunday Lunch to put a collection of seasonal dishes on the table isn’t too tricky at all. The only stumbling block is how to limit so many choices to the one meal! Beginning with Chicken Livers and Capers on Crostini and perhaps a glass of Sparkling Chardonnay or Cider, I’ve made Duck Breast with Sour Cherries the star of the show. A beautiful accompaniment to the richness of the duck, is the freshness of Grilled Pear Salad - there’s a wonderful bite from the witlof that makes the duck all that much tastier. And to finish, a lovely Dutch Ginger Cake that I may have discovered is all the better with a scoop of ice cream!