When it comes to game birds, I suspect most of us think instantly of Grouse, coming into season in the middle of August - the 12th, of course - and cooked with earthy ingredients to accompany the heather notes of the bird. Of course, it’s always best to use produce that is bursting with life at the same time, to preserve your seasonal flavour, so beetroot and cabbage are perfect, as are wild mushrooms and, surprisingly, blackberries.
During the Summer season, the humble pigeon is at it’s fattest and tastiest. Often found in a warm summer salad, they are a delightfully different take on a seasonal staple.
Moving into the Autumn, pheasants, which largely share the same type of environment as Grouse, will often be accompanied in dishes featuring late growing fruits. Apples and hedgerow berries are perfect, after alongside parsnips, sometimes made in a mash with apples. The pheasant is the most plentiful of Britain’s game birds, available fresh between October and February.
Certain fruits and game birds seem to complement each other perfectly - for example, partridge is most often paired with, er, pears! But this bird will also fit well with red cabbage, leeks and root vegetables. Partridges are small birds, serving one or two people.
Duck is the other of our game birds to relish a pairing with sweet fruit sauces. Oranges, raspberries, cherries and cranberries being amongst the favourites to enhance the Duck’s rich, full flavour.
Other meats include Rabbit, which is widely available throughout the year, although those between three and four months old are the tastiest. Rabbit is low in fat and so perfect for marinating and in casseroles.
Venison is close to fat-free, with a wonderful flavour, and is cooked in a variety of ways. Good for roasting, frying or barbecuing, Venison is also widely available all year around.
Below is a rough guide to Seasonal produce, month by month:
Vegetables Beetroot, red, white and green cabbages, celeriac, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, potatoes, spinach and chard.
Fruit and nuts The last of the English apples, pears and nuts.
Game Matured partridge, pheasant, mallard, pigeon, rabbit and hare.
Fish Brill, cod, flounder, John Dory and scallops.
Cheese Bonchester, Sharpham and Appleby Cheshire. From France - Bresse Bleu, Cantal, Pont l'Eveque and Roquefort.
Vegetables Brussels sprouts, Brussels tops, salsify and shallots.
Game Feathered game now at an end, except for varieties of wild duck. Plenty of wild rabbit and hare.
Fish Lemon sole and other flat fish. Wild salmon season begins.
Cheese Farmhouse Cheddar, blue Cheshire and Cotherstone. From France - Brie de Meaux, Tomme Arlesienne and Bleu des Causses.
Vegetables Calabrese, purple sprouting broccoli, carrots, spring greens, spring onions.
Fruit The first rhubarb.
Game Pigeon, rabbit and hare.
Fish Mackerel, halibut and bass. Flat fish are beginning to spawn now, so their quality declines. Wild salmon and sea trout.
Cheese Cotherstone, Wensleydale, Coulommiers, Comte, Banon and Roquefort.
Vegetables Spring cabbages and carrots. All winter root vegetables are now on their last legs, but the first new potatoes from Jersey are in. Leeks and the first lettuces and other salad leaves. The short morel season begins.
Fruit Height of the rhubarb season.
Meat Welsh lamb.
Game Pigeon, rabbit and hare.
Fish The first crabs, salmon trout, lobster and shrimps.
Cheese Single Gloucester, Double Berkeley, Beaufort and Gapron. Fresh goats' milk cheeses.
Vegetables The asparagus season. The first broad beans, spinach, sorrel and primo cabbage.
Meat New-season lamb continues.
Fish Spring lobster, haddock and prawns.
Cheese English soft cheeses, Sharpham, Bonchester and Wheatland. From France - Reblochon, Bleu d'Auvergne and Chabichou.
Vegetables Asparagus continues its short season. New potatoes, the first courgettes and globe artichokes, green beans, salad leaves, mange-tout and watercress.
Fruit Strawberries, cherries and gooseberries.
Fish Hake, crab, lobster, prawns, sardines and whitebait.
Cheese Farmhouse Cheddar. From France - Saint-Marcellin, Sancerre and La Bouille.
Vegetables Broad beans, peas, green beans, garlic, cucumbers, lettuces and salad leaves, radishes and watercress.
Fruit Black, red and white currants, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, cherries, bilberries and blueberries.
Fish Grilse (young salmon), plaice just beginning and squid from Scotland. The best month for crab, lobster, prawns and shrimps.
Cheese Goats' milk cheese from Britain. From France - crottin de Chavignol, Valenay, Saint-Remy and Tomme Vaudoise.
Vegetables New beetroots, courgettes, peppers, potatoes such as Pink Fir Apple and Ratte, sweetcorn and tomatoes.
Fruit Plums (Early Laxton, Czar and Opal), cherries, apricots, loganberries and melons.
Game Grouse from the 12th onwards.
Fish Dover sole, grey mullet, haddock, herring, pilchards and red mullet.
Cheese Farmhouse Cheddar, Chaource, Valenay and Charolles.
Vegetables Salad leaves continue, sweetcorn and tomatoes. Wild mushroom season begins. New-season beetroots, cauliflowers and carrots.
Fruit Greengages, plums, figs, blackberries, grapes, melons. First English apples - Worcester, Pearmain and James Grieve. Wild sloes, elderberries, hawthorn and rowan.
Game Wild duck, partridge, teal, pigeon, venison and grouse.
Fish Clams, oysters, mussels, pilchards, plaice, prawns, sea bass, skate, turbot and Dover sole.
Cheese Farmhouse Cheshire, double Gloucester, Carré de l'Est, Brie de Meaux and Boulette d'Avesnes.
Vegetables Cèpes, chanterelles and a great range of other fungi - parasol, oyster, blewits, horse and field mushrooms. Broccoli, autumn varieties of cabbage, marrows and squashes, potatoes and young turnips.
Fruit and nuts Fresh walnuts, sweet chestnuts, hazelnuts, Kentish cobs, quinces, crab cooking and eating apples and pears.
Game Pheasant, woodcock, partridge, grouse, guinea fowl, hare and mallard.
Fish Brill, cod, Dover sole, mussels, oysters, squid and turbot.
Cheese Caerphilly, Vacherin, Gruyère and Cabrions de Macon.
Vegetables Parsnips, turnips, beetroots, red and Savoy cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celeriac, celery and leeks.
Fruit and nuts Apples, pears, quinces, medlars, almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts.
Game Pheasant, partridge, mallard and grouse. Hare and wild rabbit.
Fish Halibut, herring, sea bream and sprats.
Cheese Ribblesdale, Saint-Nectaire and Caprice-des-Dieux.
Vegetables Brussels sprouts, curly kale, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, garlic, pumpkin, swedes, chard and spinach.
Fruit and nuts Much the same as November.
Game The same as November, plus goose.
Fish A whole turbot or sea bass makes a nice change from poultry over Christmas. Carp, conger eel, Dover sole, mussels, oysters and skate.
Cheese Stilton, Vacherin Mont d'Or, Tomme de Savoie and Brie de Melun.
The team from the Fox Inn Ansty.
How to find us...
The Fox Inn, Ansty, Dorchester, Dorset
DT2 7PN - Click here for Google Map
Tel: 01258 880328
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Our Usual Opening Hours:
Hotel: Check-in - 3.00pm Check-out: 10.00am
Monday to Saturday: 12.00am - 11.00pm
Sunday: 12.00am - 11.00pm
Carvery: Sundays - 12.00pm until 3.00pm
Afternoon Teas: Mon to Fri 3 to 6pm, Sun 4 to 6pm
Food Served: 12 to 2.30pm and 6 to 9pm
Breakfasts are served each morning from 8.00am to 9.30am. We will cater for non-residents.