Grapes

Grapes

20-09-2021Marc Fosh

This month heralds the start the annual Grape harvest and in the town of Binissalem, the centre of wine production region here in Mallorca, the “Festa des Vermar” annual grape harvest festival also takes place including parades, celebrations, grape-crushing competitions and a wine tasting contest to celebrate the end of the grape harvest in Mallorca. The fiesta is associated with the celebrations of the town’s patron Saint Gal, who represents fertility.

Grapes are the oldest fruit known to man and there are over 8000 varieties all of which are smooth-skinned and juicy. Commercially grapes are divided into three types: wine grapes (with a high acidity, thus too tart to eat); table grapes (low acidity); and grapes for commercial food production such as raisins, currants, grape juice etc.

Grapes

The most common varieties found in Mallorca include Manto Negro, Callet, Ull de llebre, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot for the making of red wines and Premsal Blanco, Parellada, Macabeo, Moscatell and Chardonnay for the making of whites. Grapes do not ripen after harvesting, so look for grapes that are well coloured, firmly attached to the stem, firm, and wrinkle-free. Green grapes are usually the sweetest.

After purchase, the grapes should be stored in the refrigerator, where they will maintain their freshness for several days.

In the kitchen, fresh grapes are perfect partners for goat’s cheese salads, sour cream and strawberries. They are often served slow cooked with braised oxtail, game stews and with Dover sole in the classic French dish “Sole Veronique”. This dish has always been a favourite of mine as it was one of the first things I was taught to cook at cookery school. It has been neglected in restaurants for a long time now so I think it’s time for a revival.

Ask your fishmonger to fillet and skin the Dover soles for you and peel the grapes well in advance by placing them in a bowl of boiling water. Leave them for 45 seconds, then drain off the water and you will find the skins will slip off easily. Cut the grapes in half, remove the seeds and you’re ready to go.

Stuffed Quails with Grapes and Grappa

  • 4 quails, oven ready
  • 200g Goat’s cheese
  • 4 tbsp flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 8 slices of Pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 50g salted butter
  • 5 tbsp Olive oil
  • 40ml grappa
  • 75ml dry white wine
  • 50ml chicken stock
  • 70g white grapes
  • 70g black grapes
  • Seasoning

1 Mix the goats’ cheese, parsley and chives together in a bowl and season to taste.

2 Stuff the quails with the cheese mixture using a teaspoon. Roll two slices of pancetta around each quail and secure with kitchen string.

3 Melt the butter and olive oil together in a large casserole dish, and gently shallow fry the quails for approximately two minutes, or until golden on each side.

4 Add the Grappa to the pan and carefully flame. Turn the quails to coat them in the liquid.

5 Stir in the chicken stock and wine; cover the casserole with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes, and then remove the lid, add the grapes and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season to taste and serve immediately.

Fillets of Dover sole “Veronique”

Fillets of Dover sole “Veronique”

Serves 4

  • 8 x 75g Dover sole fillets, skinned
  • 600ml fish stock
  • 85ml dry vermouth
  • 300ml double cream
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 25-30 seedless green grapes, preferably Muscat, halved
  • 1tbsp chopped tarragon
  • 1tbsp finely chopped chives
  • Seasoning

1 Season the Dover sole fillets lightly on both sides then fold them in half, skin side inwards. Place side by side in a buttered frying pan.

2 Pour over the stock, vermouth and poach over a gentle heat for 8-10 minutes until the fish fillets are just cooked.

3 Remove the fish from the dish, and then bring to the boil vigorously until reduced to about six tablespoons.

4 Add the cream and a squeeze of lemon juice and simmer until it has thickened to a coating consistency.

5 Add the grapes and fish fillets to the sauce and warm through gently.

6 Add the chopped tarragon and chives then season to taste. Serve immediately.

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