One of the oldest plants in cultivation, grapes have been around for over two millions years. Both the grapevine and grapes themselves are used in the kitchen and are enjoyed fresh, dried, pickled, juiced, ripe, and even unripe. With a remarkable ancient history and over 85 varieties grown in California alone, we can think of no better ingredient to pay tribute to than the legendary grape in September.
“The fresh grape boom hit California in 1839 when a former trapper from Kentucky, William Wolfskill, planted the state’s first table grape vineyard in the Mexican colonial pueblo now known as Los Angeles. An agricultural entrepreneur, Wolfskill was the first farmer to ship fresh grapes to Northern California. R.B. Blowers expanded the idea and sent the first 22-pound box of California grapes to Chicago via the new transcontinental railroad in 1869. The gold rush may have ended, but the grape rush continues. Today, over 99 % of grapes commercially grown in the United States come from California.” (via grapesfromcalifornia.com).
Table and dessert grapes are plump and juicy, and larger and sweeter than wine grapes. They are grown primarily in moist, warm, temperate climates of South Africa, Spain, Chile, Australia and here in California, and come in hues of green, red, blue and black. Varieties grown in California include the green Autumn King, Princess, Sugraone and Thompson Seedless, and the red Crimson Seedless, Flame Seedless, Red Globe and Scarlet Royale, and many more.
This sun-loving fruit synonymous with prosperity and good fortune belongs in both sweet and savory dishes. Table grapes go well with rich and soft cheese, like feta and goat cheese, and also pair nicely with chicken, guinea fowl, quail, squab, duck liver, pork, oxtail, terrines, and nuts like walnuts and almonds. You may have enjoyed grapes in famous French dishes like fillets of sole Veronique and bavaroise aux raisins, or something as simple as a fresh grape tart or duck liver with a chunky grape chutney. They are a favorite in our fruit bowls at home too, to be enjoyed as a quick, healthful snack at anytime of the day.
We hope you can join us in September to experience a tasting menu comprised of classic and modern dishes inspired by Californian grapes. Reservations for September's Grape Menu open 1st August 2016.