Herne Hill Farmers Market, two plump partridges and some delicious Pinot Noir!

I was in trouble yesterday morning. Apparently I’d got a little ‘carried away’ on Saturday night and Mr F was not happy. As punishment I was turfed out the house to buy breakfast (I HATE having to leave the house to buy breakfast) only to find that Mr F had broken my bicycle the week before and had slyly been trying to fix it before I’d noticed. The fact that he’d been caught out went quite a long way to putting me back in the good books but it did mean having to walk to the shops. So off I went grumble grumble…

The up side to this long-winded tale is that I’d forgotten Sundays are Farmers Market days in Herne Hill as of a few months ago. And it’s brilliant! They have all sorts of things from a fishmonger (selling some truly incredible looking sea bass), cakes, antiques and various butchers. The particular butcher I was seduced by probably had something to do with the fact that he had a pile (see pile below) of partridges sitting on the side of his stall. So that’s my dinner sorted. When someone’s selling partridge for £2.99 each in London that’s me sold, and for an absolute steal I thought.

“But what to drink with these delicious partridges?” you cry! Well one of the best things about game birds is you can choose what your’e in the mood for as they comfortably go with either red or white wine. If I had been in the mood for white wine I would have gone for Chardonnay. “Anything but Chardonnay” you cry!! Well we’ll deal with that another day. But something delicious from Burgundy would have done brilliantly; something buttery with a hint of oak. 

As it was we were in the mood for red. For me Pinot Noir is just the thing for partridge. Pinot Noir comes in a multitude of guises; the first Pinot Noir I ever fell in love with was from California (Sonoma Valley to be exact), and it was an absolute triumph! In this case we went for a New Zealand Pinot Noir by Composite. New Zealand produces some truly excellent Pinot Noirs. They tend to be much fuller in body than many of their French cousins but still retain the subtlety and grace that you would expect from such a grape. Unfortunately, due to their thin skins and a tricky temperament that makes them difficult to grow, they are generally more expensive than the average wine, but are by and large well worth the extra financial commitment. This particular one wasn’t going to break the bank though at only £8.99 on offer from Majestic Wine.

The Composite is pale ruby-red in colour leading to a slightly rusty coloured rim. The nose is full of ripe red cherries, spice and orange peel. The palate (though light in comparison to many wines) is medium bodied with the fruit that was promised on the nose but perhaps still more spice. It’s notable length is baked by soft and supple tannins. It matches with the partridge brilliantly. The gaminess of the bird is enhanced and supported by the spice in the wine. The hint of tannins in the wine add structure to the dish. This is my kind of Sunday night supper.

And as for the partridges, they were excellent. I took advice from Nigel Slater (more specifically his Kitchen Diaries) and kept it simple. Smeared with butter inside and out with a rasher of farmer’s market bacon across their breasts and a sprig of thyme inside. They look so pretty and festive it almost makes me sad that it’s still another two months until Christmas! Roasted in the oven at 220 degrees for 25mins. We ate them with homemade bread sauce, cabbage and courgettes.

Absolutely completely utterly delicious!