Friday, 19 October 2018

A celebration of grapes at Dunleavy Vineyards | Recent work

That's me in the pic above, harvesting grapes. On an English vineyard. No, really it is. This time last year, along with my excellent friend and collaborator, Kym Grimshaw, I found myself with a pair of snips (technical term) ambling along the vines and filling crate after crate with plump Pinot noir and Seyval blanc grapes.

Ingrid Bates is the woman behind Dunleavy Vineyards, a powerhouse of a little red hen who plants, tends and harvests the lot herself. She started her business back in 2008 and produced her first rosé in 2013. Believe me when I say that it's some of the most delicious wine I've had the privilege to sample (and I've sampled A. LOT.).

Obviously, when grapes are ripe then it's tricky (understatement) to get them all harvested solo, so Ingrid holds picking parties on the vineyard. Friends and family are invited to help harvest, and the day becomes a celebration with hot drinks and food at the end of it.

Oh, and every picker gets a bottle from the following year's harvest.

Take a look:

The idea of a grape-centred menu of harvest recipes, inspired by the picking party, was too good to forget.

Kym and I put together a beautiful spread (in both senses of the word) for the October issue of The Simple Things magazine, featuring dishes in shades of purples, oranges and greens.

'The grape harvest happens sometime in October, as soon as the fruit is intensely purple and plump enough to burst. This moveable feast needs a feast of its own to reward plucky pickers after a day in the fields. Autumnal shades of orange and purple dance off the plate – this is beautiful, simple Italian-inspired food with a harvest feel.'

The menu:
Blistered grapes, ricotta & toasted sourdough
Parma-wrapped chicken with figs & gorgonzola
Herb-roasted veg 
Kale & fennel salad
Poached prunes with Pedro Ximénez

And here's the celebratory Italian dessert bread recipe (which you can also find on The Simple Things site) - Schiacciata di uva. Think sweet focaccia with bursting grapes and aromatic fennel seeds. Oh yes.

Schiacciata di uva

Serves 12

200g raisins
250ml vin santo or moscatel
850g strong white bread flour
2 scant tsp fast-action yeast
435ml warm water (100-110C)
1 1⁄2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
450g black seedless grapes, washed and stalks removed
2 tbsp demerara sugar
2 tbsp fennel seeds
You will need:
A 33 x 22cm baking tray

1 In a small pan, bring the raisins and vin santo or moscatel to a boil, then turn off the heat and set aside for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

2 Mix the flour and yeast with 1 tsp salt. In a jug, combine the warm water with the olive oil. Pour into the flour mixture and combine, then knead until smooth and elastic. Or use a mixer with dough hook attachment.

3 Brush a thin layer of oil over the inside of a large bowl and put the dough inside, turning it over in the oil. Cover with cling film or a plastic bag and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour 30 mins).

4 Brush a 33 x 22cm baking tray with oil. Divide the dough into two and roll half out to the size of the tray, pushing it into the corners. Drain the raisin mixture and spoon over the dough. Roll out the second half of dough to the same size and sandwich over the first. Pinch the edges to join. Leave in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel, until risen (at least 30 mins).

5 Preheat oven to 190C/Fan 170C/ Gas 5. When the dough has risen, scatter over the grapes, then sprinkle over the sugar and fennel seeds.

6 Bake in the preheated oven for 45 mins, until you have a golden crust and the grapes are bubbling and releasing their juices. Cool on a wire rack for 15 mins, then cut into generous slices to serve, with coffee or as a dessert in its own right.

The mag is out for another week or so and our feature is on page 24. 
All of these wonderful pictures were taken by Kym Grimshaw who's about the most talented person I know.

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