Food Miles: On the hunt for autumn's fruits of the forest
Sunday 04 November 2012
Ask a chef what their favourite season is and nine times out of 10 they'll tell you autumn. Wild game birds are available from 12 August when the grouse season starts, but it's only now that you get the full range including pheasant and woodcock. Wild mushrooms abound, along with smaller amounts of their pricey cousins, the black and white truffle. Meanwhile, autumn fruits such as bilberries, blackberries and elderberries are ripe for picking. But you don't have to be a chef to get the best from the most exciting time of the culinary year: active food-oriented trips will guide you to the best produce and show you what to do with it, both in the UK and abroad.
Yorkshire Food Finder (01904 448439; yorkshirefoodfinder.org) offers a range of culinary trails including the autumnal Game Set and Match on 22 November. Discover the art of deer stalking with expert John Fawcett in Duncombe Park near Helmsley, then learn to match wines with venison and seasonal game over a specially created gourmet menu at The Star Inn at Harome (01439 770397; thestaratharome.co.uk). The half-day tour with dinner and transport included costs £160 per person.
Search for truffles and then enjoy a rustic lunch in the beautiful Provence countryside in the company of an expert local truffier as part of the three-night Truffle Hunting weekend at Hotel Crillon le Brave in Provence from 15-18 November (00 33 4 90 65 61 61; crillonlebrave.com). Costing €1,330 for a double room, the stay also includes a cooking demonstration at the hotel, wine tasting at the Château la Nerthe estate, a visit to the farmers' and antiques market at L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue as well as daily dinner and breakfast.
Autumn is the ideal time to visit Aracena in Andalucia, close to the Portuguese border. As well as seasonal cheese, chestnut and olive oil fairs, wild mushrooms are bursting forth. Inntravel (01653 617900; inntravel.co.uk) has a seven-night Timeless Aracena discovery walking holiday that features a guided mushroom-collecting walk for departures until 30 November; the price of £632 per person includes a one-bedroom self-catering cottage, car hire and walking notes; flights extra.
The shellfish in the waters around the Weather Islands, Sweden's most westerly archipelago, are at their most accessible in the autumn when the temperature drops and they come closer to the shore. The two-night lobster package at Vaderoarnas Vardshus guesthouse (00 46 525 32001; vaderoarna.com) costs from £722 per person based on two sharing, and includes a lobster safari, a cooking class, lunch, two dinners and boat transfers from Fjallbacka. Available until 29 November.
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