Sunday, 3 May 2009

Gathering chestnuts

This week I picked chestnuts, cooked chestnuts and ate chestnuts. We drove to a farm about twenty minutes away which produces organic wines, organic vegetables, sheep, and chestnuts, which survived the drought this year well enough to produce a good crop.

They make their own wine too and I got a couple of bottles of wine to drink later.

A group of us wandered down past the vines to the orchard and squeezed the shiny nuts out of their prickly husks.

Then we had a brunch and a glass or two of the farm's own wine and drove home to cook the chestnuts.

Getting the chestnuts out of their shiny brown cases and then their fibrous inner skin is a bit of work, but manageable if done in front of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I've made a chestnut soup and cooked chestnuts with broccoli and carrots. The head chef has cooked a wonderful slow-cooked duck, chestnut and red beancurd sauce dish. He pointed out that it would have been simpler to buy dried chestnuts from a Chinese grocer, but agreed that we had a lovely time hunting and gathering these fresh ones.

I still have a few chestnuts left to try making marrons glace and home-made chestnut puree.

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