This year has been a great year for almost every kind of fruit. Everyone with an apple tree of any size is overwhelmed by the harvest and giving fruit away. We have the first ever mini kiwis on our kiwi-vines. And our grapes – they went crazy. We grow two seedless varieties – “Sovereign Coronation” (North American labrusca variety) and “Vanessa Seedless” (a labrusca and vinifera hybrid) and two regular European grapes – “Boscoop” and “Dornfelder”. As far as ease of cultivation is concerned, “Sovereign Coronation” is a clear winner. It’s never bothered by mildew and the seedless grapes are a good size even without laborious thinning and even when the summer is not what we would like it to be. The taste is a lot more aromatic than the European varieties though – I like it a lot, but not everybody does.
Apart from our plants, there’s also our neighbour’s grapevine that insistently grows over the fence and then fruits abundantly on our side of it. As a result, we’ve been picking and eating grapes for weeks. I turned five kilos of grapes into a delicious jelly (my son’s favorite). There are still plenty left. It’s time to try something new.
You can serve grapes alongside cheese after dinner and that’s completely fine. But you can also bake them together with cheese, sprinkled with thyme and smokey sage, and if you do, you will get the juices. The aromatic, herb infused, juices that you can sop up with a piece of bread. I had this dish for lunch last week – a perfect lunch for a windy, but still sunny fall day.
Roasted grapes with camembert and herbs
Adapted from Jamie Oliver magazine (Dutch edition)
500 g (a little over a pound) blue grapes
a few sprigs of thyme
½ tbsp sugar
red wine vinegar
50 ml (3 tbsp) crème fraîche
150 g camembert
a small bunch of sage
Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius (430 F).
Put the grapes in a shallow oven-proof dish. Pull the leaves off the sprigs of thyme and add them to the grapes. Sprinkle the sugar on top and drizzle with olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 – 10 minutes, until the grapes start to burst. Take the dish out of the oven and spoon the crème fraîche over the grapes. Place pieces of the camembert between the fruits.
Pick the sage leaves from the sprigs and coat them lightly with oil. Sprinkle the sage on top of the grapes. Put the dish back in the oven for about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serve with nice rustic bread and some walnuts, if you wish.