There’s a lot to be said for Autumn, not least the fact that the football season is getting into full swing and I can get back to cooking the stuff I love, like stews and crumbles and a slow roast on a chilly sunday.
This is easily the most abundant time of year so far as fresh produce is concerned. Plums, figs, blackberries and sweetcorn mark the weeks when Summer slips into early Autumn and right behind them are the season’s big hitters – apples and pears, squash and pumpkins, mushrooms and nuts. Every season’s produce feels right for the time, and none more so than now. Big robust dishes are what’s required and this lot are perfect for soups and stews, pies and puddings.
So far as Bill’s is concerned, I like how the restaurants turn back in on themselves now the weather is getting colder and the evenings longer. Dim the lights, get the candelabras glowing… the Danish, who know a thing of two about long winters, have a word – hygge – that sums up that feeling of cosying up inside. It means friends and family, hot chocolate, good wine, candles, warmth and laughter. That’s what we aim for at Bill’s on a chilly Autumn evening.
I’m up early with the birds in the summer, out in the garden to see how everything’s coming along and how much damage the slugs have done overnight. Cup of tea in my hand and Frank, my dog, bouncing around the garden, it’s the best time of day. That, and when the sun’s going down – nice cold beer before dinner.
In our restaurants, summer has a special place in our hearts. It’s the time of year when we throw open the doors and windows to catch the breeze and customers come in to take time to enjoy the clinking of ice in a glass of something cool and refreshing. The place takes on a bit of a holiday vibe, especially once the kids are off school and people have more time on their hands.
And it’s gone in a moment, summer. So my advice is to make the best of it and get out there and enjoy it – whether it’s a crowded park, a pub by the river, an even more crowded beach – the British summer is a glorious thing. Even in the rain.