A Thoroughly Autumnal Dinner Party
We're lucky to have such distinct seasons in the UK, in which we can relish the pros and, in the very British way, rue the cons. It makes for balance, which I'm told is a good thing: a little yin and yang in our lives. Of all the seasons, we love Autumn the best. We could grumble about the shorter, darker days, the impending rise in our utility bills, and the way-too-early Christmas advertising, but if you love food even a little, you cannot deny the gastronomic delights of harvest time. The boeuf bourguignon, pumpkin soup and baked apples make every darkening day worth it.
I think the last time we hosted a "fancy" meal was around Spring, where the plat du jour was fresh with pea, mint and lemon, and the sun had only just slinked off to Bedfordshire by the time dessert was served. In contrast, it was already getting dark by the time I decided to make a last minute dash to IKEA for some candlestick holders. We were excited to host something cosy, indulgent, and thoroughly autumnal.
I decided to up our decor game, and produced an arrangement of colourful squashes, dried flowers, leaves, candles and fairy lights. Living in a small flat means we struggle to store multiple dinner sets and endless table linen and decorations, but I was determined to give our guests something special and that would compliment Mark's seasonal menu. Even if that meant rummaging around the central reservation on a dual carriageway to pick wild flowers, and crawling residential streets to find those perfect red autumn leaves.
Mark put together a menu of four courses, encompassing many of his favourite autumnal ingredients. The main event was grouse, which he loves but has missed eating for the past two seasons. Myself and our guests had never eaten it before, and really enjoyed our first experience of that rich, floral meat.
Anyway, I won't go on. This isn't a review (although my verdict would be: bloody good), it's just our chance to share what we serve up to guests when we go all out, and maybe give you some ideas for flavours and pairings at your next autumn bash. We're also open to any suggestions for improvement!
Celery panna cotta, rehydrated sultanas, sultana purée, Gewurztraminer infused grapes, walnut, and Granny Smith
Bestheim Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Zinnkoepflé 2013
Duck liver, poached pear, and pear, chamomile and sauternes jelly served with toasted brioche
Once Upon a Tree The Wonder "Ice" Pear Wine 2011
Grouse "Rossini" with girolle mushrooms, fig, roasted celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke purée and a red wine rhubarb reduction
J.Lohr Carol's Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Bramley apple soufflé with homemade blackcurrant ice cream
Clos Dady Sauternes 2014