On one hand it’s a bit sad that we marching on into cold, dark winter; boots, scarves and gloves out of the storage cupboard and worn out of necessity for a turn around the park.
On the other hand Autumn is the season to tantalise the tastebuds. There is such a lot of culinary excitement going on. You remember I mentioned the Cèpes? Well I bought some last weekend, prepared and cooked them as instructed; wiping not washing so they don’t soak up water, not too much oil in the pan, and plenty of fresh parsley. We ate them as an accompaniment to an omelette. The verdict: delicious. This seasonal treat is not cheap; the market stalls I saw priced them anywhere between €20 and €35 per kilo, one sign pronounced €19.95 per 500g, clearly a promotional trick. I guess there is a Paris premium at play too. Buying cèpes is a very particular process; you don’t help yourself, no, no, no. Monsieur le Fruiterer will advise and carefully place the specimens you decide to buy into a bag and make sure you have amongst your purchases a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley. It’s a serious business, cooking and eating.
The next seasonal story is cheese. Our local master cheesemonger told me that Autumn is a good time to eat Reblochon just as the cows have just been brought down from the high mountain pastures (les alpages) where they have been grazing over summer. This cheese is soft with a lovely nutty flavour and is special enough to be registered by an Appellation contrôle (AoC), it originates from the Savoie region (up in the French Alps) and is made from the milk of only three breeds of cows. The origin of the Reblochon name is a great history story.
Of course it’s also the season for harvest grapes, le vendange. This is super special, with Fetes des Vendanges in many wine growing areas including Montmartre here in Paris. Last weekend, being the second weekend in October, the hilltop at Montmartre village was set up for the celebration of the Montmartre vine harvest with concerts, parades and a mass of food and wine stalls. Not only were there local products, but food and wine from all over the country to be tasted and bought. Oh my, what temptation there was! I happened to chat with a wine-maker from Les Caves Richemer in the Agde-Marseillan area (not far from Montpellier) who had been in New Zealand for 3 months earlier this year. I’ve now got a bottle of her lovely Rose wine waiting for some good company to share it with.
Autumn has a lot going for it after all.