Matthew Bunch speaks about local and seasonal fare
PUBLISHED: 16:32 22 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:15 20 February 2013
Matthew Bunch, Sussex Life's resident foodie, speaks about the best of local and seasonal fare...
While October marks the departure from the summer and, for many, the gloomy prospect of winter, I like to think forward to what the season has to offer us in the way of gastronomic delights - in particular, game.
The distant pop of shotguns induces thoughts of winter, crackling fires and pheasants strung up outside the door of my grandparents' farm, waiting to be lovingly plucked, and turning my grandmother's stomach at the thought of such a job!
Pheasants, partridges and indeed many other of their feathered cousins quite rightly look on October and the winter months with little enthusiasm, as many of them will undoubtedly end up on the menu at your local eatery.
Yet for me there is nothing more evocative of winter than a decent roast pheasant or succulent loin of venison.
Game offers a whole different experience to traditional meat such as beef. Venison in particular is an ideal red meat alternative, being naturally low in fat and cholesterol and has a really wonderful flavour that works well in a variety of dishes.
There are many different game birds to try and each one offers a different experience. Their availability varies with each season and some species are more abundant than others. Because many game birds are totally wild and are unable to be artificially reared, the numbers and prices of a particular species can vary throughout the season.
However, game isn't necessarily as hard to come by as you may think. Game birds are also quite versatile when it comes to cooking: young grouse are beautifully tender but are generally higher in price; the older birds are more suited to stewing as it guarantees succulence; wild mallard and teal ducks are perfect for roasting.
One event that no game-lover, or indeed anyone, should miss is the South of England Autumn Show & Game Fair on October 3 and 4 at the South of England Centre at Ardingly.
One of the UK's largest celebrations of all things game is the perfect opportunity to experience the world of game hunting including: gun dog displays, birds of prey, clay pigeon shooting, lurcher and terrier racing.
However, if dogs and guns aren't necessarily your main pursuit, there are also fruit and vegetable competitions, vintage machinery and of course, the opportunity to buy lots of delicious game. It's sure to be a good day out and if nothing else, it's an excuse to sample lots of local food;