Our new monarch is a man after my own heart. I have long admired him as a champion of organic farming and produce, and he cares passionately about our environment and its future. As Prince of Wales, he was a committed patron of both Garden Organic (of which I am vice-president) and the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts, of which I am a member.
If you have a moment, I must share a little story…
One day I was at his Highgrove estate and could not resist telling the prince, ‘Sir, your gardens are fantastic, but not quite as magnificent as my gardens at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.’ A dozen journalists were there to witness my cheekiness. Prince Charles laughed but, sure enough, in November 2014 he came to visit Le Manoir and see for himself. As we began the tour of my gardens, the heavens opened and for the next three hours the rain hammered down. His Royal Highness was not deterred and we wandered through the gardens and the orchard, and he asked lots of questions about the varieties of vegetables and fruit that we grow. Each of us planted a sapling beside the gates of Le Manoir, and he must have added a sprinkling of royal soil because his tree has since done far better than mine.
In 2020, when my beloved mum died at the age of 97, I was inundated with letters of condolence. One was from the then Prince of Wales, and was a long, heartfelt letter. It was written in his own hand and filled with kind, generous words. I was touched, comforted and deeply inspired by his warmth and thoughtfulness.
King Charles adores the humble apple and has an orchard at Highgrove. His great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, was also an apple fanatic and one of her favourite desserts was baked apple. Here, you’ll find my recipe for that dish. You’ll also find Apple Tarte Maman Blanc, which has become a classic, as popular as the great woman who gave to me the recipe. If you are looking for a challenging dessert, see Frozen Autumn Still Life, one of my earliest creations at Le Manoir. Mushrooms are in season and I urge you to try my fricassée of wild mushrooms. Of course, you’ll need bread to mop up the earthy juices of the fricassée, and there’s a choice of two recipes for rustic loaves; pain de campagne and rye bread galette. And I hope you enjoy my pumpkin soup to lift the spirits as the days become shorter and the chill sets in. Bon appétit!
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