After Apricots its the turn of the sweetest and most delectable of all fruits and this is not just any peach but a Pêche Roussane from the town of Monein in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Its enormous, curvy and juicy and and has a spectacular yellow, nectar-trickling flesh speckled with red. Ripe earlier than other varieties of peach, abundant but impossible to transport as its skin is so delicate and bruises easily.
We planted four trees on arriving in Mailhos and were seen by our neighbours as very adventurous and overly optimistic as the hometown of this variety is Monein which is built on a stony, south facing hillside and I planted them in a clingy, cold, clay soil facing east. The first died of a winter frost. The second grew into another type of tree which I haven't yet managed to recognise and it doesn't produce any fruit to help me in my quest. The third is a stickler for peach leaf curl and has not grown a centimetre in four years and intermittently, causes much excitement when it produces one dried-up fruit. The fourth is a monster and has grown to twice my height and apart from a light spring attack of leaf curl (but aided by a plantation of garlic at its roots) gives us enough peaches for those two whole weeks. I'm very grateful to have one tree appreciating this foreign, cold soil.
Peaches only ripen on the tree so to pick them early, and transport them hundreds of kilometres makes them just disappointing and taste like wool. The Pêche Roussanne bruises easily so you have to either grow a tree or buy very, very locally during the two weeks of its annual harvest.
A peach at breakfast is the most positive way to start a day and is an excellent end to a rich meal. They work in so many recipes but especially when they've travelled far.
This week Jean Francois and I will devour peach crumble and softly spiced chutney, runny jam, caramelised peaches with a roast pork belly and peach sorbet, of course. But my favourite to serve with afternoon tea and shortbread biscuits and retain all the original peachy taste...
Stewed Peaches with Verbena
6 perfect Peaches
20 Verbena leaves
3 tbsp cane sugar
25 cl boiled water
Place the peaches in a small saucepan so that they just fit. Add the sugar, verveine leaves and pour over the boiled water. Cover. Bring to the boil and then cook over a moderate heat for 10 minutes.
Take off the heat. Take off the lid and leave to chill. Peel and eat.
Honeybee update.... She left her eggs yesterday to stretch her legs and two hours later she hadn't returned to the home base. Found her in the chicken house on another set of eggs. She was quickly shifted back to her original family and hasn't moved since. Luckily its warm so the eggs never really cooled down but this lady needs to be watched. So much for her family loyalties...