The Natlacen Clan have just returned from a week meandering around the Greek Islands. Well, perhaps meandering is not the right word as we were on a bloody big cruise ship, thundering around the Greek Isles with all the elan of Boris storming through the Commons, but less destructive.

Now, I think it's fair to say that Greek food isn't counted amongst the great cuisines of the World but having been to Greece many times since being a wee small Churchmouse, I personally love it. There was nothing better on the trip than a great Greek Salad, enjoyed with the family in Kalamata - yes, where the olives come from. So, I look this month at one of the key ingredients to that dish, Feta Cheese.

We’ve had the torrential rains in August following a gloriously sunny July, to thank for the bounteous harvest we see before us now. Fruit trees are bent under the weight of the apple crop this year. I’ve had to put supports under the lower branches, just to stop the bow from breaking. Newton Wonder will stay on the tree until mid-October, when they should be ripe, sunshine permitting. They are an excellent cooking apple but keep well over winter too, when stored. They sweeten with age and are good as an eating apple in December. One of my favourite recipes for a potted smoked mackerel, is a grated Newton Wonder apple, lemon juice and finely chopped parsley, mixed together with a little natural yogurt and flaked smoked mackerel. No need to peel the apple either. Get as much vitamin C while you can.

Czar has ripened to the fattest little plum crop I’ve ever seen. These have been stoned, slowly cooked, so that they stay whole, then frozen to be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Local duck is delicious, roasted crisply and served with a spiced plum sauce. Search on Facebook for Pow Heads Farm Meat for the duck.

Both Conference and Comice pears are ripening slowly for an autumnal picking. Poached peeled pears with a chocolate sauce is always a winner. Thanks, Ursula, for another delicious pudding!

Blueberries have been slow to ripen this year and are a bit too tart to eat many raw. I’ve added sugar to the pan and made them into a compote, good for morning cereal or in ice cream.


Finally receiving PDO status in 2002, only those cheeses produced in a traditional way in particular areas of Greece, which are made from sheep's milk, or from a mixture of sheep's and up to 30% of goat's milk from the same area, can be called Feta. The earliest references to cheese production in Greece date from the 8th century BC: the technology to make cheese from sheep's or goat's milk described in Homer's Odyssey is similar to that used by Greek shepherds today to produce Feta. In the late 15th century, an Italian visitor to Candia, Pietro Casola, describes the marketing of Feta, as well as its storage in brine, complaining about its saltiness as a result of storing the cheese in vats of brine two feet deep! However, it is this salty richness, together with the saltiness of the olives, that lends the Greek Salad its real ‘umaminess’, if indeed that is a word - it is now! Together with crisp leaves, tart tomato, sweet red onion and a good Greek olive oil, heaven on a plate! It's so versatile - great eaten just as described but of course it cooks so well. We were served a whole slab of Feta in Corfu Town, baked in the oven and drizzled with olive oil and oregano. Yes, in case you were wondering, I have had to buy a pair of trousers with an elasticated waist since returning!

I think I mentioned last issue, that we held a Greek Night at our regular Friday Bistro and the evening was a real hit. One thing we had never made before was Tiropitakia, the lovely little parcels of Filo pastry stuffed with Feta and Herbs and roasted in the oven. These were the surprise of the night, selling out before our last table had even made it through the door! I haven't got the space for a recipe here but of course ‘Google’ is your friend. They really are incredibly easy and if the comments from our customers are anything to go by, then why not get making some and have your own Greek night before the summer runs out on us? Just add friends, some Bouzouki music and lashings of wine. Not Greek wine I hasten to add, I mean, I love the place but there's no need to be that silly!

John Natlacen, Owner

sow it, grow it, eat it! by Annette Gibbons

Annette Gibbons OBE is renowned as a champion of local food and whilst supporting Cumbrian farmers and growers, she cultivates her organic vegetable garden on the banks of the Solway Firth

I’m so pleased to be able to continue to pick courgettes, a late sowing of mangetout peas, runner beans, colourful lettuce and sweet tomatoes on a daily basis. Runner beans have grown up well on my arch, which I’ll tweak again in next year’s raised bed. Finding exciting recipes for this English type of bean has been a challenge. There’s nothing wrong with hot buttered, steamed or lightly boiled runner beans, I love them. I’ve discovered that when lightly cooked, cooled and made into a salad with salted lemons and olive oil is a divine combination.

Roasted beetroots with tiny garlic cloves and thyme are good too. The small Sungold tomato has continued into

September three and

I’ve just finished slow roasting a tin over

full for hours, until

slightly chewy. These are pretty good with toasted pine nuts and Thornby Moor’s Stumpie cheese, dressed with thick balsamic and olive oil.

Such a wonderful harvest. Every year is different but having ‘Sown It and Grown It’, I’m relishing the opportunity to Eat It! I hope you are too.

Annette Gibbons Email:

ISSUE 435 | 19 SEPTEMBER 2019 | 20

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