What a joy to have had a proper summer – do hope you are enjoying it. English fruit and veg are certainly benefitting from this sunshine.
British Plums – it’s a bumper crop – tender, juicy with a mellow satisfying flavour and so much tastier than foreign imports.
Delicious straight from the fruit bowl but also gorgeous cooked in pies, tarts, cakes and crumbles, surprisingly good in dishes like a simple tomato salad too. When heated, plums become more acidic working well in savoury recipes – try with roast pork instead of apple for a tangy purée and plum jam on hot buttered toast is heaven – see Dan’s recipe below.
There are over 300 varieties of English plums. The start of the season sees the Opals, then Victorias, the popular all-rounder with flame-coloured skin – roast the less ripe ones with a trickle of honey, butter and chopped hazelnuts. Majories are dark-purple skinned with a green tinge that can be eaten raw as well as cooked; greengages are small and delicate with a delicious sweetness when ripe; damsons have the blue-black skin and generally too sour to eat raw but cook down to a rich red with intense flavour that works so well in crumbles and pies – mix with cream for a fool or as a sauce over ice cream. Bullace is a wild fruit that makes good jam or jelly and sloes, the same genus as plums, but very sour if eaten raw – best saved for sloe gin!
British Apples – this sun is certainly adding good sugars and flavour, though some rain will not go amiss! The early varieties from our local supplier Cam Valley Orchards are already in the shop such as the Discovery, Estivale and Robbin; other heritage varieties to look out for soon include Adams Pearmain, Ashmeads Kernel and Saturn.
There are so many wonderful varieties of sharp, sweet, crunchy apples in all manner of colours and one of our most versatile fruits too – delicious raw or cooked into fantastic desserts, crumbles, pies, tarts, cakes also savoury dishes, chutneys or added to jam for a good set.
In the Shop
Dan’s busy in the kitchen cooking different flavoured individual meringues – he makes 1,260 every week and they are flying off the table; mint choc chip is the latest variety – other popular ones include raspberry ripple, triple choc chip, salted caramel, citrus, coffee & walnut and blueberry.
Perfect for piling up with cream and soft fruits for a quick tasty pud.
He’s also busy making Pearces jam – strawberry, raspberry as well as plum as soon as they reach their peak.
New Gifts and Cards
Sieni – this up and coming brand is simple and quirky and known for its simplicity and functionality. The sponge effect designs are inspired by outdoors, living creatures and flowing seascapes in that calming Scandinavian style – there’s mugs, dinnerware and different sized stoneware jugs – we’re rather fond of the small size – all from the Fishie in a Dishie collection.
Peppermint Grove Candles – fragrant soy candles handmade in Australia. Poured in custom-designed glass, these candles come with a lovely polished silver lid in two sizes. The fragrances are exquisite – coconut, grapefruit and lime, patchouli and bergamot, lemongrass and lime and lemon, basil and mandarin.
Despite instant technology, sending and receiving greetings cards is still popular and its always useful to have a few to hand:
Wendy Jones-Blackett designs are stylish and contemporary;
The Little Dog Laughed collection always gives us a chuckle and
the rather original 3D cards from The Art File are amazing – no glue, springs or paper fasteners, they are individually hand folded from a single piece of paper to create an exceptional card – a joy to send or receive.
Cheeses of the Month
We have four cheeses of the month for you that carry a 20% discount – look out for the red star:
Picandou goat’s cheese– a fresh spreadable aromatic cheese with slightly rippled surface and no rind. The white interior is soft and creamy with a mild taste and hints of grassy flavours. Made from 100 % goat’s milk using traditional methods in the Perigord region of France.
Rob from Corney & Barrow recommends a glass of the La Brouette as it will provide just enough acidity to liven up the cheese but also accentuate the gentler, freshness of the cheese with its tempting red berry fruits. An easy-going pair, perfect for an early afternoon refreshment.
Brebirousse d’Argental – one of the few Brie type ewes milk cheese on the market. When young it has a fresh taste which ripens into a more full flavoured consistency – creamy buttery, sweet and gooey with a briny, grassy, mushroomy tang. Dusted with annatto, gives it an orange rind.
Rob says, as chardonnay and brie are relative bosom buddies he recommends the Chilean Campesino to match this delicious cheese. This chardonnay, has an alive freshness with lots of delicate fruit untamed by oak and a wonderful roundness to the palate. A perfect luncheon pair.
Le Cret Gruyere – is the traditional hard 12-months matured cows’ milk cheese that has a rich, caramel flavour with hint of fruit. Made by the Fromagerie Le Cret and master cheesemaker Jean-Marie Dunand who runs the village dairy in Fribourg region of Switzerland – he makes 18-20 wheels every day of the year with fresh milk from cows that graze on mountain pasture. Lovely with fruit and crackers, gruyere is also one of the finest cheeses for baking with its distinctive but not overpowering taste – use for quiche, onion soup and cheese on toast.
The Pinot Noir from Cyrot-Buthiau is Pommard in all but name. A rarity as far as value is concerned in the region and a truly luxurious wine, it’s a great companion for the Cret. Let the leaping fruit from the Pinot firstly dance with the undertones of the cheese, then ease into the body-structure harmony of the pairing. Richness and refreshment all in one belting mouthful.
Yorkshire Blue – made with cow’s milk by Shepherds Purse in Yorkshire. This cheese has won many awards. It’s mild, soft, creamy, blue veined with a unique buttery, sweet flavour when young that becomes more complex as it matures but still remains mild with no sharp bite.
Rob suggests that as his father is said to be 2 parts Yorkshireman, 1 part red wine lover that the Il Carretto Rosso from Puglia, an intense ruby red coloured sangiovese will go well with the Blue – we do like this approach! With spicy notes, fruit aromas of plums and red, crushed up, ripe berries, juicy, fruit forward, though not confected as well as a soft supple tannin, it makes a perfect wine for a perfect cheese. Enjoy with happy thoughts of God’s own county in mind – a reet good pairing!
Pearces Plum Jam
1.5 kg plums – stoned and quartered
1.5 kg jam sugar
1 lemon, juice
1 vanilla pod
Place all the ingredients in a preserving pan and cover with 200 ml water, slowly heat to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and bring the jam to a rolling boil until reaches 105⁰C.
Or test by spooning a little jam onto a cold saucer and push with your finger, if it wrinkles it is ready. If not, cook for few more minutes.
Take the jam off the heat, remove the vanilla pod and add a knob of butter to disperse any scum. Cool for 15 minutes, ladle into hot jars, seal and leave to cool.