Nothing beats a beautiful autumn day – and I can just about cope with the nights drawing in if the compensation is golden low sunshine and delicious autumnal grub.
This is the beginning of the game season, mushrooms, nuts and other earthy favours as well as the continuation of all those wonderful fruits: apples, pears and plums though sadly the blackberries still haven’t ripened in this part of the country.
The savoury flavours of pheasant benefit from a sweet sauce and this year I made jelly of wild plums, apples and chilli which should work well with a pot-roast bird. This is the time for warming, chest-thumping reds. Jean-Pierre Meffre’s stonking Gigondas Domaine Saint Gayan 2007 would be a fine accompaniment. Recently described thus by Jancis Robinson MW: "...here is a sure-fire winner, a special, attractively mature southern Rhône wine for those who like their reds to be long on comfort and character... Lovely mature herbs and spices on the nose. Pretty dry finish but with masses of fruit, a bit of tar, black roasted flavours but no excess sweetness and, remarkably, the alcohol is not too obvious. Long and comforting."
Toasted hazel nuts can add a subtle bosky flavour to a fluffy cauliflower soup (enjoyed at new local eatery The Works Canteen in Frome - follow them on Twitter: @TheWorksCanteen). A glass of flavoursome white such as Domaine Ferrer-Ribière’s distinctive, sherry-edged, dry, Catalonian Grenache Blanc would marry well with these earthy tastes.
As if to make up for the poor blackberry crop, the raspberries grown at a local community garden have been fantastic. I have been adding them to apple crumbles with oaty toppings but they would also work well in an apple charlotte – the autumnal version of summer pudding with buttered bread absorbing the juices of cooked grated apple and raspberries. The heady Autumnal flavours of the wonderfully honeyed Monbazillac: Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure 2010 go well with oats, apples and raspberries. It can also be used to fill a jar and steep dried apricots back to full bloom. These make an easy dinner party dessert served with whipped cream and flaked almonds but you do need to start the process at least 4 days in advance.