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Seasonal Cotswolds food at The Priory Inn Seasonal Cotswolds food at The Priory InnSeasonal Cotswolds food at The Priory Inn

November 2010

November, “the rawest of all seasons, with so huge a sense of her nakedly worn magnificence…”* marks the onslaught of the hard months ahead, dictating the nature of wildlife and farming activities. Our summer hedgerow and field friends seek out cosy spots for hibernation; starlings looking for protection against the weather begin their noisy winter roosting; and lakes and estuaries again become temporary dwellings to feathered Arctic species. The colourful cloak worn by trees in the Cotswold countryside will soon make way for the monochrome - but beautiful in its own way - landscape until Spring blossoms again. *White Goddess by Robert Graves.

This Autumn our local farming community has experienced the expected frosts for this time of year which means that the root vegetables are already coming into their own. Bountiful parsnips, celeriac, carrots and swede mark a great start to a new food season and the colder weather turns their starches into sugar. For centuries in Europe before sugar was available, parsnips were used to sweeten jams and cakes! Now the clocks have gone back and the nights begin to draw in, we rely more on the local vegetables available to provide hearty, warming dishes. The Duchy Home Farm has lovely crops of golden turnips as well as the other roots and many colourful leaves including curly kale, cavolo nero and savoy cabbages. The pumpkin season is naturally here and the local farm has some gigantic and very handsome specimens on offer. The soft fruit season is now coming to an end but we continue to welcome local back door bartering and the many varieties of crisp English apples and perfectly autumnal pears that it brings. This is also the season for wild game and November is the month when plump partridges, pigeon, pheasants and wild duck start becoming available and their different flavours and textures will tempt our palates.

We have been working within our 30 Mile Food Zone for 2 years this month and we are constantly impressed with the level of commitment and consistent quality of produce from our ever-growing list of “30 mile heroes”. This time of year is of course pretty big within the food and drink industry and there aren't many busier than Elaine and Daryn Williams and their team at Madgett’s Farm in The Forest of Dean. Daryn’s grandmother used to raise geese and turkeys at Christmas for friends and family and the word soon spread how delicious they were. This is now the full-time family occupation - constantly striving for (and without doubt achieving) excellence. They control all parts of the production process on-site - growing their own feed as well as allowing the free-range birds to forage naturally. Their turkey chicks arrived in the first week of July and spent the first few weeks in heated barns. The birds then were allowed to roam freely for the next 24 weeks. Their dry-wax plucking system (one of only three in the country) means that the natural flavours are not washed away from the skin and they finish each bird by hand. Buy the best turkey, goose or duck you have ever tasted this Christmas by ordering from their website or find them at Stroud or Cirencester farmers’ markets.

Cotswold Brewing Company is our supplier for all lagers and they have added another string to their highly delicious range which is a cider made by Cider Sam. The cider has all the taste of the apples from which it was created, with a slight sparkle and a real scrumpy haze. It is a great hit at the bar and worth a try. More information in December!

If you are thinking ahead to Christmas presents, then it is worth a visit to the Farmers' market in Stroud on a Saturday morning. One of our recommendations and certainly on our Christmas list this year is a bottle of one of Esther Chapman's many Country Cotswold Liqueurs. As a part-time venture, the company was established 4 years ago following the family tradition started by Esther's aunts, grandparents and parents of devising liqueurs from wild fruits. Esther began making her own and giving them in beautiful bottles as presents to friends for birthdays and Christmas. These were understandably received enthusiastically and it spurred Esther on to launch her business. Every variety of liqueur (from damsons, sloes, blackberries, cranberries, elderflower, quince, raspberries and cherries) is hand made in small batches with care (unlike mass-produced liqueurs on the market). Esther picks the seasonal fruit and flowers by hand from Gloucestershire's pastures and hedgerows that are far away from the pollutants found near roads and some crop fields, ensuring that the fruit is untainted and in its true natural state when blended and infused with the fair trade sugar and spirit base. The care and devotion that Esther applies to making her liqueurs is one of the common threads that runs through all our family of suppliers and results in a high quality product that we hope you will enjoy here or buy to try at home. A glass of Esther's liqueurs will make a delicious rounding-off to your dinner – or dabble in a pre-dinner blend with a glass of Prosecco.

Live Sunday music has become an integral part of what we do here at The Priory Inn and starts every week at 8pm. Entry is free and we really hope that you come and support live music – plus there is no better way to put Monday morning to the back of your minds! On the 7th we welcome back Pete Taylor – always a popular singer/songwriter and regular customer too! The 14th sees Brian Humphreys on a return visit after his very successful first Sunday with us. Sian Chandler and Ray Hughes are here again on 21st November – always a great night with those two and we round out November with one of our most popular regulars - Steve Degutis on the 28th.

TLKelly 1/11/2010


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