Thursday, 11 September 2008

Blackberry and Apple Crumble and Sauternes

Blackberries are bejewelling the hedgerows again and we must pick them by Michaelmas (29th September) lest the Devil spits on them. There is some truth behind this myth as after the end of September the blackberries turn wishy washy, mouldy and bitter. Did you know that blackberries grow on every continent except Australia and Antarctica? Blackberries have been used as food and as medicines for thousands of years. The Greeks used the blackberry as a remedy for Gout, and the Romans made a tea from the leaves of the blackberry plant to treat various illnesses. They are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins along with being a good source of the minerals potassium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium.

The blackberry has quite a lot of mythology around it – in Brittany, it was considered a fairy fruit and consequently was untouchable. Another tale says that the blackberry was cursed by Lucifer when he fell from heaven and fell on the brambles. Blackberries are considered remedy against vampires - this lore is much older than the garlic one. The reason lies in the assumed fanaticism of all demons to count things. When you put blackberries on a threshold or windowsill, you can force a vampire to count over the thorns and berries until morning comes.

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

For the Crumble

175g plain flour
pinch of salt
100g butter
75g demerera sugar
50g ground almonds

For the Filling

25g butter
350g apples, peeled, cored and chopped
350g pears, peeled, cored and chopped
50g caster sugar
200g blackberries

Mix the flour and salt together, and then rub the butter into the flour using your fingers. Then rub in the demerera sugar and ground almonds. Melt the 25g butter in a saucepan, add the chopped apples and pears and cook gently until just beginning to soften. Stir in the sugar and blackberries.

Place the mixture in an oven proof dish and sprinkle over the crumble. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 200C for 30 mins or until golden and bubbling.

Why not try a glass of Sauternes with the Crumble? Sauternes doesn't have to break the bank although first growth châteaux are expensive due to the labour intensive methods of production. Grapes have to be hand picked so that only those with Noble Rot are selected and yields can be low. Nick is hoping to introduce some wonderful Sauternes from a petit château in time for Christmas so keep watching! It is said that one grape vine only makes enough juice to make one glass of wine. Although these are dessert wines their sweetness is not cloying due to their zesty acidity. Flavours can include apricots, peaches, dried pineapple, nuts and honey and the finish lasts on the palate for a long time. Their colour is gold which darkens with time to a deep copper. The wine should be served chilled at around 11ºC.

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