Summer months evoke vivid memories of my early days in Great Britain. In France, Maman Blanc had handed me a St Christopher to keep me safe on the journey, and kissed me farewell a thousand times. After the Channel ferry crossing I drove in my snazzy, blue Renault Gordini – I truly loved that car – to Oxfordshire. There I began as a waiter at The Rose Revived. Five years later, I was chef-patron of my first restaurant, Les Quat’Saisons in Summertown, Oxford.
That was the summer of 1972. Fifty years later and I am still here, though minus the cherished Gordini.
And I still savour the abundant delights of a British summer – wild salmon, pink and gently poached; plump raspberries from Scotland; a bowl of strawberries and cream; and, of course, that great British rhetorical question – ‘Anyone for Pimm’s?’
At Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, the vegetable garden is a rainbow tapestry – bulging, bright green pods of peas, purple-leafed lettuces, blazing red peppers, rusty-stemmed chard, and, of course, numerous varieties of plump tomatoes, all shades of orange and red, dangling from vines.
These are some of the gifts of summer. And they feature in my recipes here: spiced grilled squid with chargrilled vegetables; Comté cheese and chard tart; a fabulous pea risotto. For an unforgettable lunch in your garden, you might fancy cherry tomato tart followed by slow-roasted pork belly marinated in Asian spices. For dessert, I recommend the red fruit soup, made with summer berries, and quick and easy to make. Bon appétit!
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