British Summer Food

In the fourth part of our food series we celebrate the best of British. Mark Hix, Rick Stein and Nick Nairn conjure up delicious summer menus from the finest local food. And here, Clarissa Dickson Wright suggests the dishes she'd serve at the perfect summer buffet
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Indy Lifestyle Online

To be perfectly honest, I am not a great fan of summer itself as I get hay fever and find the heat a bit of a trial, but I do love British summer food. Just because we do not have the climate of continental Europe does not mean our produce is not of comparable quality. I eat seasonally and that means the arrival of the summer gets me excited about fruits such as beautiful strawberries and raspberries.

To be perfectly honest, I am not a great fan of summer itself as I get hay fever and find the heat a bit of a trial, but I do love British summer food. Just because we do not have the climate of continental Europe does not mean our produce is not of comparable quality. I eat seasonally and that means the arrival of the summer gets me excited about fruits such as beautiful strawberries and raspberries.

A very happy summer memory for me is going to the opera at Glyndebourne. My friends and I get together a delightful picnic by visiting Middle Farm in Firle, near Lewes. It's a working diary farm with a fantastic shop. It has at least 25 different varieties of sausages, home cured bacon and hams, plus pheasant and even wild boar. It also stocks around 50 different English cheeses including Blue Stilton and the farm's own concoctions such as Buttercup cheese, created from milking the pedigree Jersey herd. I must say, I do love that unpasturised milk taste.

Other tastes and textures that bring summer to mind are dishes such as rabbit terrine, new potatoes and fresh salad. Please do not buy one of those terrible pre-packed salads from a supermarket, you really will taste the difference if you search out quality fresh produce; for example, we can grow tomatoes that rival the Italians.

My perfect summer meal would be a lovely buffet with friends; you don't really feel like eating a huge, hot meal on those long, hazy days. I would serve a selection of food such as plates of those gorgeous sausages from Musks of Newmarket. The original recipe was created by James Musk in 1884 and they are handmade in small batches. The meat used is prime British pork shoulder from fully free-range pigs - shoulder meat is the best for sausage making.

Dishes that I would actually make for the table would be something such as salmon with chicory and Roquefort, the wild salmon that is available in summer for a couple of months would be perfect. I particularly like the combination of flavours in this dish, but if you find you do not have any chicory, lightly blanched spinach will do. Pigeons with raisins is a warming dish if the evening is turning chilly, the raisins and sweet sherry give it a rather Regency feel. Another good pigeon dish is 'pigeon in the hole', which is made with venison sausages and was popular in the eighteenth century.

Finally, I would round the meal off with raspberries and cream. Ultimately what I take delight in with British summer food is its simplicity. It is a perfect time of the year to let the produce speak for itself, there is plenty of it about, so buy well and eat well.

The Game Cookbook by Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott is out now (Kyle Cathie Ltd, £19.99).

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