Season: Available all year round
The grape is one of the oldest and most lovingly cultivated fruits, and we all know why. Much has been written in praise of wine, in contrast to the joys of the simple, unprocessed table grape (which, incidentally, accounts for a mere 10 per cent of world grape production). In reality, white grapes vary from green to yellow and black grapes from pretty pink to nearly blue.
There is a similar variation in size and flavour, from tiny seedless grapes (a favourite treat with children) to Muscat or Muscatel grapes (big and perfumed) and strange, straggly bunches of pinkish Italian grapes in autumn (often delicious, always cheap).
Grapes grown for the table are generally different to those used in wine-making – Muscat, Gamay and Tokay are exceptions – and to make one of those beautiful triangular clusters the growing fruit has to be carefully pruned, which adds to the expense.
GaTop-quality exports from South Africa have made this an all-year fruit.
Fruit salad with a kick, based on a Caribbean cocktail of rum, fruit juices and spice: a mouthwatering way to end a summer meal and a good recipe when entertaining.
If you really want to splash out you can make this with champagne, but sparkling white wine works very well, too. This is a lovely light dessert that slips down easily after a rich main course. It looks beautiful served in stemmed champagne flutes
This recipe was given to me by chef Norbert Kostner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok when I visited the cookery school there. It's lovely served as a first course or included in a cold-buffet menu.
Plump little quail are the ultimate in single-serving foods...and very easy to cook and serve (no carving needed!). If you can't find vine leaves, use foil instead.
All that's involved here is a quick-dissolving packet jelly and a generous amount of port and claret. For this reason it is strictly an adult jelly, so I'm afraid drivers will have to have something else.