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The Priory Inn truffle and fudgeThe Priory Inn pearThe Priory Inn september

Cotswolds local and seasonal food - September 2017

“"But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ... The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on".*

We have now said a fond farewell to a solemn and slightly chilly August and hope the month ahead will deliver much cheerier skies. For many, September feels more like the start of a new year than the calendar would have us believe. Alongside university places, new school timetables, incoming teachers and crisp uniforms, there are earthy smells in the air which herald a striking change in the season. An almost overnight disappearance of feathered summer visitors to their warmer wintering climes and a distinct drop in the number of butterflies and bees is met by an influx of leggy insects and intricate spiders' webs, heavy in autumnal morning dews. Sight lines across fields have been exposed for weeks now and the ploughed-in stubble has already begun to green over with winter crops. Barns are full to the rafters with animal feed and bales for the winter months. *Robert Finch

Hedgerows now emerge as the fruitful stars of the season with their eclectic display: tangled strings of glistening blackberries; clusters of elderberries; pillar-box red hips and haws, and dusty blue-black damsons and sloes. Nature's carpet takes on an underfoot crunch as winter's natural larder begins to fall - beech nuts, acorns and highly polished conkers (despite the best efforts of the leaf miner caterpillar to munch its way through our magnificent horse chestnut trees). As the landscape and wildlife begins to prepare for colder temperatures, our thoughts turn to an evocative season of slow-cooked, warming comfort food.

A delicious sweet temptation we now offer on our dessert menu is a line of petit fours courtesy of a delightful, talented baker and chocolatier Ori Hellerstein. Based in Stroud, Ori handcrafts delicately flavoured artisan truffles; sea salt caramel, milk chocolate and hazelnut praline, chocolate orange cream and raspberry ganache. His fudge flavours are equally luscious and we offer the chocolate fudges, each with familiar flavours running through them. Experience of growing up in his mother's Israeli bakery, blended with a cordon bleu cooking background resulted in Ori launching The Artisan Baker in 2012. He added to his beautiful bread repertoire in 2014, with the new fudge and truffle brand – Costèllo and Hellerstein. As Ori says, "Fine food should command your full attention. It is to be experienced and enjoyed by your eyes, your hands, your sense of smell and your palate; a complete sensory experience". You can immerse yourself in a sample of Ori's taste-sensation fudge and truffles at the end of your meal or enjoy with a cup of tea or cappuccino. Alternatively, buy boxes direct via the website or a selection at Stroud Farmer's Market.

This year's apple ripening has started about 2 weeks early, but September is the first month of the year when Dave and Helen at Days Cottage can display their fresh raw product in abundance at the farmers' market in Stroud. Alongside many others within our family of suppliers, they have chosen to tread a tougher path than the mass-produced modern equivalents in order to uphold their ethos and firmly held beliefs. Their methods of organic, natural orchard management, selection and revival of fruit varieties, and fermentation in oak barrels - using no additives or preservatives - produces top quality, authentic and pure Gloucestershire cider, perry and apple juice. They also conserve and replace traditional orchards in our county. "Old orchards of full sized trees are one of the most traditional elements of the Gloucestershire countryside, providing vital habitat for flora and fauna. The old trees are a home to hole nesting birds such as little owls, while the deeply creviced bark provides protection for many invertebrates...The unploughed grassland beneath the trees has been managed for generations by grazing sheep and occasional cutting for hay, and is rich in wildflowers and grasses...On our own orchards', initial surveys have shown over 50 species in the grassland and over 20 species of lichen on the trees. Bird life is also encouraged by the placing of bird boxes and bat boxes throughout the orchard." The team blend dozens of varieties of fruit for their drinks - some unique to the county and brought back from near extinction. These fruits provide deep complex flavours, so completely superior to any modern varieties. The first pear juice of the season was made late in August and the pears to look out for are Beurre Clairgeau and Swan’s Egg. Try their apple juice at our bar, buy apples, pears, plums and drinks from Stroud Market or direct from their website. Anyone really into their apples and orchards should head to Brookthorpe for the Annual Apple Day on 8th October. 

One of our personal favourite suppliers is only 5 minutes from Tetbury and farms passionately and with a deep commitment to her cause. Ros Holland can be found every day of the year, just off the Fosse Way, sowing and tending her vegetables and salad leaves: mizuno, crisp peppery rocket, and herbs as well as kale, carrots and courgettes and many more. She will help us out with early morning deliveries, picking her produce - by hand, with the help of a head torch - to get us the freshes and best quality produce possible. The key thrust of Adeline social farming project is to provide local people – schools/ disadvantaged/ disabled and community groups, an experience of life in the open countryside. She teaches about planting and they reap the immeasurable psychological and physical benefits from growing crops. As well as the handful of allotments, there is a commercial arm to the project which goes some way towards funding the facility. Beneficial insects are actively encouraged and many corners of the site are filled with nasturtiums, morning glory, marigolds and sunflowers. The site is a stunning example of how one person's dedication and love of a great cause can create so much energy, life and learning opportunities. We think Ros is an exceptional person and we are so behind what she has achieved, her love for what she does and whatever the future holds.

Live Sunday music is an important part of The Priory Inn and starts every week at 8pm - entry is free.  On the  3rd September Lewis Clark plays a lyrical blend of folk and blues, followed by Bashema, niece of Jamaican reggae legend Keith Hudson on the 10th. Dik Cadbury performs a selection of his favourite covers and original material on the 17th and Teri Bramah with her rich, sensual, passionate voice plays and sings for us on the 24th September. See our website for information on each performer.

We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage. We will welcome summer's ghost”. Henry Rollins