Last Summer Harvest

It’s the last week of October and we have just wandered through the veggie garden and harvested what will probably be one of the last summer harvests.

Summer Harvest

Left to right we’ve got assorted tomatoes, rocquette, lettuce, cabbage,  raddish, (huge but they grew so quickly that they still taste succulent),  carrots and a vegetable that we have really discovered for the first time this year;  bête or otherwise called swiss chard.  It’s  like two veggies in one with celery-like stems and spinach-like leaves.  Cooked roasted or sautéd it has been a real success this year when we have served it to guests on wine tours or during our October ‘special offer’.

We hope that we can continue for a few more weeks yet as the garden is a mass of summer flowers and half-hardy herbs.

In fact this year has been very strange indeed we had almost insufferably high temperatures in late spring and early summer, then,  although it was still warm and generally sunny, we neverthless had more rain in August than anytime in living memory followed by a very warm and sunny Autumn.

Pineapple Sage

Tender pineapple sage in late October

The flip side of this is, of course, that plants have grown like things possessed and the vegetable garden has been like a production line. Ample tomatoes and basil have led to Brian experimenting with mozzerella and he has made some amazing salads with tapenade, olives and pesto.  We’ve gorged on huge beef tomatoes stuffed with all sorts of things.  Our neighbours fig tree has cropped so heavily that we actually got fed up, of eating figs,  except with Foie Gras of course – we’ll never tire of that combination.  Likewise, this year’s Asparagus crop actually became a chore to eat and we ran out of things to do with it.  Although the wine grapes really needed the September sunshine to reach full maturity, the eating grapes were huge and bursting with sweet fruit.  We are now planting garlic and spring onions for next year together with broad beans and early peas.  The leeks, brussels sprouts, kale and winter cabbage are looking good.

The hunting season has started so there will be lots of game around so we won’t be starving!  In fact we look forward to the heart-warming winter cuisine which will shortly start to replace the tomatoes,  herbs, olives and salads which are a mainstay of the summer.  In particular; we can’t wait for the Beaujolais Evening in the local restaurant, the Bouchon Ponot, when Jean-Yves does a huge cooking pot full of the Anjou version of  Boeuf Bourguignon.

‘Bon aperitif a tous!


October in the Loire