Autumn

The summer crowds thin out, leaving continued good weather.  The grapes are being harvested, also mushrooms from the fields and woods.  

 

In 2010 one of our guests wrote in the Visitor's Book: 

"The first two days of torrential rain suggested that our autumn visit in mid-October was a bit foolish!  However this was followed by five days of glorious sunshine, and what a perfect time of year it turned out to be here.  Yes, it's definitely 'out of season' with most of the restaurants closed,  but it was stlll warm enough to eat outside on the terrace [of No 5], or to have breakfast on the balcony - what a view!  Also the countryside is a stunning range of colours.  We highly recommend a drive up to the Parc National des Cevennes, to do the walk from the Cascade des Organes, a beautiful 8.3 km circular walk."  

 

 Vines and wines

The other great joy of autumn is the vendange, the harvesting of the grapes for winemaking. Tractors drawing trailers full of grapes clutter up the narrow roads, yes,  but at the same time the colours across the fields are changing to wonderful hues of russet and gold, giving great photo opportunities. The pickers are in the fields, and you can visit the vinyards for a tasting and to purchase wine 'En Primeur' - come back next year to collect your wine, or get the domaine to send it home to you once it has been bottled in the Spring. There are some fantastic vineyards in the area - several even being noted in the international press. So designate a driver, and make a tour (not forgetting to buy some bottles so your driver can have a tast

 at the end of the day - safely sat on the balcony watching the sun set over the hills).  For an unforgetable experience you can even join the pickers to help harvest the grapes on a few domaines.  

Boar hunts

Autumn is also the season for big boar hunts, which you can follow in safety from your balcony. First you hear the excited yapping of the dogs, each with a little bell on its collar so the hunters know where they are.  Then the hunters give their traditional inarticulate cries to encourage the dogs, and off they go to drive a specified tract of land, having stationed shooters wherever a boar may be tempted to  exit.  Finally you often hear shots.  Many shots indicate that the boar escaped as usual, as much alcohol is consumed in the course of these hunts. Sometimes the hunters actually get a boar, but not often enough, becuse it is the hunters who pay for the vinyards to be surrounded by low electric fences to protect the grape harvest from the boars. At the end of the hunt the hunters all retire together to a hall for an excellent meal, which is what it is really all about. Usually one is left with the feeling that the boars know where the hunters will be, and trot off the night before, leaving the field to the hunters and their dogs.  

Gathering wild mushrooms

Its mushroom season in the fields. An interesting walk can lead to harvesting some of the ingredients for your dinner that evening.  But please, if you are in any doubt about the identification of mushrooms, leave them in the field and purchase your wild mushrooms in the supermarket or at the marché, where safe wild mushrooms from knowledgeable collectors are regularly sold at reasonable cost. 

  

Wild Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients: Selection of wild mushrooms,

Onion, Garlic, Pine nuts, Créme Fraiche,

Pasta, Olive oil,  Flat leafed parsely

 


Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Chop an onion into cubes, and fry gently in olive oil until translucent but not yet turning brown. Towards the end throw in some peeled and crushed garlic cloves, then when done empty into a separate dish. Toss some pint nuts into the frying pan and toast lightly on both sides. Add to the dish with the onions and garlic. Clean and roughly chop the mushrooms (chunky is best), then fry gently in the pan, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. These will take several minutes to cook down.


Meanwhile, check on the pasta. When cooked remove from heat and drain, then return to the pan.

When the mushrooms have cooked spoon in a reasonable amount of créme fraisch, and add the onions, garlic and pine nuts back into the pan. Stir to mix, then pour over the pasta.

Ensure the creamy mushroom sauce thoroughly coats the pasta and put into a serving dish. Sprinkle over some finely chopped flat leaf parsley and serve.

This can be eaten on its own, or as an accompaniment to roast chicken breasts, with a little salad on the side. There are endless variations to try out if you feel like getting creative in your kitchen