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Ham and Melon

 

Recently returned from the scorching heat of France the appeal of rainy England is waning. To keep the flame alive we’ll be continuing with our summer staples of French dishes at their simplest. On holiday we decamp to the north of the Dordogne - a region of France that is not known for its fine wine. There is however a local drink that we adore as an aperitif and that is Pineau des Charentes – grape juice fortified with Cognac. Victoria Moore memorably described Yapp Brothers’ Réserve bottling from Domaine Gardrat thus in the Guardian: "This one is stunning. It feels like a caress, and when you take a sip it is so good you stop talking. It tastes gloriously mellow, of plum, alcohol soaked raisins, of prunes, of walnuts and freshly-ground coffee, of preparing for Christmsas but also of late summer sun." We enjoy it served with an ice cube alongside some Charentais Melon and Jambon Cru. Alternatively if you find the small sweet Charentais melons simply halve them and serve with the cavity filled with Pineau – delicious.

When it was too hot to cook we ate salady lunches including celeriac remoulade (grated or moulied celeriac with a mustardy mayonnaise dressing) and carottes râpé which have a sharp lemony dressing. Alongside tomatoes, cucumbers some rillettes or paté de campagne and a fresh baguette. A light red such as Fredrik Filliatreau’s exuberant, organic Château Fouquet 2011 (on which we providentially stocked up en route) proved the perfect accompaniment.

A simple supper at this time of year is roast Mediterranean veg (any combination of red peppers, courgettes, onions, aubergines & tomatoes) along with some grilled chops, (lamb or pork) and plain boiled waxy potatoes. Keep the wine choice light with youthful rosés and un-oaked reds - fingers crossed for an Indian summer!