What's in season – August

What's in season: August

by Sally Abé 1 August 2018

August’s warmth brings with it an abundance of fruit and vegetables and signifies the start of the British game season. Sally Abé gives us a round-up of the best that August has to offer.

After a five-year stint in the kitchen at two Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury, Sally is now head chef at The Harwood Arms in London.

When Sally came to London to cook as part of her culinary arts degree, she never went back to college in Sheffield.

Sally began her career at the Savoy Grill, before moving on to a two year stint at Gordon Ramsay's Claridges restaurant. After this, she spent five years at two-Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury as sous chef.

Sally is now the head chef at the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms in London, where she makes the most of Britain's fantastic game meat and seasonal produce.

After a washed-out end to July, we now look to August as British fields and orchards begin to bulge with their wares to take us into the main harvesting month of September. While berries are still great, we are now starting to see the first of the English plums beginning with greengages.

Greengages are super sweet plums perfect for dessert when ripe and high enough in pectin to make a delicious jam when less ripe and firm. Anna Hansen uses greengages as part of a savoury gooseberry relish to pair with an after dinner cheeseboard. Greengages also work wonderfully in a British classic – take a look at our guide on how to make greengage crumble.

Figs are now starting to become plentiful, mostly coming from the warmer parts of Europe but supermarkets have begun to sell figs hailing from Essex in recent years which is good news for British growers. Without the long air miles and refrigeration, this very individual fruit can be enjoyed at its best as figs have to be picked ripe and are notoriously difficult to transport.

Sticky, sweet and textured with hundreds of tiny seeds, figs lend themselves wonderfully to both sweet and savoury dishes; look to Paul Foster’s Fig ice cream with granola and yoghurt mousse or Geoffrey Smeddle’s Warm puff pastry tart with goat’s cheese and figs for inspiration.

At the absolute height of their season in August are tomatoes, the British and French heirloom varieties being the leaders in flavour due to their natural pollination by bees. Heirloom tomatoes are available in all shapes and sizes each with their own unique characteristics. Steer away from supermarkets and head down to your local greengrocer to find these unusual looking fruits with maximum flavour, perfect for a summer salad. Henry Harris serves his tomatoes with borlotti beans and goat’s cheese or for a refreshing gazpacho, try Tom Aikens’ cherry tomato version.

The UK sweetcorn season begins this month coinciding perfectly with barbecue season; last year 4 million cobs were sold a week in the month of August alone! Not just for the barbecue, the sweetness of the corn offsets the saltiness of delicate shellfish such as prawns, crab and razor clams.

Turbot, often called the king of fish, is an excellent but expensive choice. Closely related (and much cheaper) is brill which is plentiful during the months of August and September. Brill has smaller flakes than turbot but is by no means less delicious. Sweet with a meaty texture it lends itself particularly well to pan-frying. Simon Hulstone pairs his brill with a rich lobster sauce for a luxurious evening meal.

Last but not least, on the (glorious) 12th of August, the grouse season begins. Grouse is the first game bird of the year and arguably the most flavourful. Make the most of the delicate flavours of new season grouse and head on down to your butcher for the freshest birds. Here we show you how to roast grouse or try one of our inventive recipes from our chefs – Adam Stokes’ Grouse with beetroot is an earthy pairing while Kevin Mangeolles’s Grouse, fried brioche and fig purée is sweet and rich.