Autumn is always the best season for food in the UK, and we’re particularly lucky that our grape harvest is seeing a bumper year with vineyard owners quietly confident that they’ll be seeing not only a good volume but also – hopefully – a great quality vintage.
Whilst this year’s wines won’t be on sale this side of Christmas, there are plenty of crackers that you can buy right now from independent wine shops such as Butlers Wine Cellar in Brighton (www.butlers-winecellar.co.uk) and also the better end of the supermarkets.
Waitrose probably has the widest range of English wines including Ridgeview, Bolney, Chapeldown, and Stopham amongst many others (www.waitrosecellar.com). What better way to toast the festive season than with a glass of wine from our award-winning and internationally acclaimed vineyards?
ENGINEER THE BEER
An emerging trend in bars at the moment is the beer cocktail, although my mate Jake Goldstein at Brighton’s Plotting Parlour tells me it’s no new thing as they were all the rage in the 1800s. Back then they would have eggs and cream as well as beer and were more about sustenance and protein than getting drunk.
In modern times, the resurgence of beer cocktails is due to the popularity of craft beer at the moment. The late 20th century saw a massive degradation of beer quality due to the domination of the big brands, but now that this is finally over. Beer cocktails are about the accentuation of the flavour profile of the beer and using notes that play off that profile.
They are also about making beer approachable. With the use of reductions, dry hopping, malt syrups and the like, you can make a cocktail that mimics and accentuates the make up of flavours in the beer without using too much beer itself. Keep an eye out for beer cocktails at a bar near you soon.
HAVE A VERY SUSSEX CHRISTMAS
It won’t be long now before the Christmas lights start going up across our town centres and the piped festive tunes creep into a store near you. Now instead of buying piles of presents that nobody really wants, how about gifting some delicious food and drink, produced right here in Sussex.
Springs Smokery near Henfield (www.springssmokedsalmon.co.uk) are one of the best producers in the country, producing smoked salmon, trout, mackerel, duck and more, all available to buy online. Cocoaloco in Horsham (www.cocoaloco.co.uk) produce an amazing range of chocolate goodies that are perfect for gifts and stocking fillers, while the acclaimed La Cave à Fromage in Hove (www.la-cave.co.uk) have a superb range of English and Continental cheeses on sale.
Ditch the olive oil and treat yourself to locally produced rapeseed oil from Sussex Gold at Partridge Green (www.sussexgold.co.uk). There are various smoked and infused flavours, but I prefer the regular extra virgin for dipping with a few slices of crusty wholemeal bread. Heaven.
And, of course, to accompany your cheese you won’t do much better than the delicious Elderberry port produced by Sarah and Nathan Thompson at the Blackdown Distillery near Pulborough (www.blackdowncellar.co.uk).
For the Christmas table, order your bird from your local butcher rather than from the supermarket, or throw caution to the wind and go wild with local game meat such as venison, or wagyu beef from Trenchmoor farm (www.trenchmore.co.uk).