I was thinking about what I should do for ‘What I ate Wednesday’ this week. Now what I ate yesterday was indeed tasty, but nothing that I haven’t told you all about before, so I decided to pass on that for this week and to think outside the box.
So now that autumn/ fall is indeed upon us, I decided to recap the season just past and the season ahead for a post on – foods that I am sad to see go/ foods that I am happy to see arrive!
Summer is indeed over, or it definitely is here in Scotland. The days of summer salads, ice cold coffees, walking around in shorts and t-shirts (wait… did we ever do that in Scotland!?), seem an age ago. The mornings and evenings are getting darker and every day seems to be getting a little chillier. I still have yet to put the heating on in the house though, am trying to keep that off until the last moment (just put on another jumper instead!).
Along with the (slight) heat and the sun, I have to say goodbye to some of my favourite foods. Here are the top 5 I will miss.
(Note – I know that some of you will be thinking ‘wait, you can still get them in my supermarket!’, but I am referring to foods that are seasonally at their best during the summer, more often than not locally grown and taste fantastic. Most of the out of season produce that I have tried from supermarkets just don’t taste the same, or can even taste pretty nasty to be honest. I advocate eating real food and eating seasonally – after all, don’t we want food at its best!?).
– I have to put berries altogether in one segment, otherwise they would take up most of my list! I adore local strawberries and raspberries – we seem to have the perfect climate for them in Scotland over in the East Coast and they are so plump and juicy. Blackberries are also so divine – blackberry picking on the downs near London definitely has to be one of the highlights of my recent holiday. Nothing like picking berries straight off the bush and eating them (then returning home to find your mouth is surrounded in purple berry juice!). On the plus side, because our forage was so successful, I have many portions of blackberries in my freezer now for throughout the winter – brilliant!
– This again, encompasses all types of melon; I haven’t come across one I haven’t adored yet. Galia and honeydew are so sweet and juicy, the flavour is so intense, and one piece just isn’t enough. Then there is the king of melons, the watermelon. Oh so refreshing, nothing quenches your thirst like it and the colour inside, the deep red crimson…beauty and a treat! And the wonder of melon is its ability to be used in sweet and savoury dishes. Galia melon wrapped in prosciutto anyone? Or a watermelon, feta and almond salad?
– I feel like I owe tomatoes quite a lot. Until my mid twenties, I always maintained that I didn’t like tomatoes. What was I thinking! Then I tried them again and now I can’t get enough of them. I just needed to try and good, in season, local, ripe tomato. So, I owe them a good 25 years worth of catching up! I love the variety in tomatoes – beef, cherry, heirloom – all are perfect in their own way for a variety of dishes. I will continue to buy the occasional tomato out with the season but only for inclusion in dishes – e.g. I wouldn’t be putting them on salads etc. Or will use a good quality tinned chopped tomato – a good store cupboard staple.
– Ah cherries… get them at their peak and I could honestly eat them nonstop. I used to think the best cherries I ever had were in Florence, Italy – that was until I tried English cherries for the first time this year – oh boy! Big, pump, juicy and rich they were the bees’ knees! Let’s just hope for another good summer next year so that we have another abundant crop.
5) Courgettes (Zucchini)
– This last spot was a tough one as it was a tossup between courgettes and sugar snap peas. I do love the snap peas and I take such delight in dipping one of those beauties into some salsa or just chomping away on their individual sweetness but courgettes just beat them to the post. Courgettes are so versatile. They can be added to any dish along with a mixture of vegetables but are also so great on their own. Grilled, they can be mixed in a salad, hot or cold. You can steam them, roast them, and even grate them. I might pop along to my local organic supermarket in the next few days to see if I can get the last of the seasonal ones, I still want to try 2 more dishes – roasted courgette wedges and a courgette hash. Please have some!
Now we move on to autumn!
Yes so it gets a little darker and a little colder, but surely there is nothing better than snuggling up on the sofa when it’s dark outside and your feeling a little chilly? Or walking through your local park when the leaves are all turning majestical colours of bronze and falling from the skies at the slightest hint of a breeze? And then we come to the change in flavours. We move from fragrant and fresh herbs to warm and comforting spices. From roasted meats with root vegetables to thick piping hot bowls of soup, the autumn into winter months are a different world to the previous few months and bring with them so many jewels. Here are the top 5 foods I am most looking forward to having again.
1) Squashes/ pumpkin
– They really did have to be number one, no questions, hands down. I spend all year longing for seasonal squash; they just aren’t the same any other time of the year. Pumpkin is king of course, but it is still quite difficult to find good quality pumpkin here in the UK. Even finding tinned pumpkin puree is difficult but thanks to now living in a city with a Whole Foods, I have this covered! Will just keep my eyes peeled for some local pumpkins popping up! On the plus side our supermarkets are filled with British butternut squashes and I can even get onion and harlequin squashes too, which taste amazing! Squash and pumpkin are just incredible for being used in anything and everything, sweet and savoury, breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I look forward to having them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! (Maybe not all on the same day… although I would be tempted!).
– Being an island, Britain has to import quite a lot. I know a lot of our fruit and veg has to come from Europe, there is no other way to do it, we just can’t make enough food on our wee island. So, if they are imported, I just try and find ones from closest to home – i.e. France or Germany. For most of the year, this is the case with apples, that is until the autumn, when British apples come into force! Right now I am tucking into discovery apples – a desert apple with its own unique taste, there really isn’t another apple that tastes quite like it. Looking forward to hopefully getting some Braeburns next though, yum!
3) Sweet Potatoes
– Another food that I do buy all year round, it’s a nutritional powerhouse! But I am looking forward to some seasonal ones over the next few months. Also due to their growth in popularity in the UK, hopefully some more British grown ones rather than European. Will just keep my eyes on the label/ asking where they came from if unlabelled. Be powered in knowing where your food comes from!
4) Citrus Fruit
– Another key example of our need to import, you can’t mass grow citrus in the UK, not with our climate! But we get some amazing produce from Europe – Spain in particular. I love a tart zingy pink grapefruit, a sweet clementine or tangerine or just a good old orange. I know many people have some many fond childhood memories of clementines at Christmas; even just the smell of them gets me all excited! Just like the smell of cinnamon. Oh and just a wee reminder, yesterday, Christmas was 3 months to the day… just saying!
5) Brussels Sprouts
– I love them! Some hate them, but I just think it’s because they have never had one cooked properly (i.e. not nuked and boiled for 4 hours!). Each little cabbage is full of nutrients and flavour, winner winner! I shred them in an omelette, roast them, sauté them, steam them and mix them with anything and everything. Most of the time, they are the star of the show in the dishes I cook. Cheap, tasty and here until March, bring on the sprout meal inspiration! I want to eat them as much as I can!
So there we have it, my list of foods I will miss from summer but combined with foods I am desperately looking forward to from the autumn. Autumn is an amazing season and I am looking forward to experiencing Glasgow in the autumn for the first time. If it’s anything like the summer was, it’s going to be pretty awesome.
What foods are you going to miss/ looking forward to?