A little to the left of the climbing rose, and closer to the house, down the garden a little way, were beans. Broad beans. They took their time this year, grew slowly. No giant at the top and no Jack at the bottom. No reason to hurry. Now they are out and it is November and we have a hill of beans and the summer herbs are in. November 1.
Three cloves of garlic - scored, i.e., finely cross-cut but not right through - in olive oil - Australian, remember? - in a pan. Just until they are warm. Do not burn or even brown. Now throw in two handfuls of beans, just as they are. I didn't peel the skin, they were not big or tough enough. Sweat gently. Add plenty of pepper and not as much salt. Now a half-glass of white wine: simmer gently until done. We are drinking sauvignon blanc now. Given up on chardonnay. The makers have lost the plot. They are either over-oaking it, putting in too much alcohol or trying to make it taste like sauvignon blanc, which it isn't. I miss Len Evans' Cowra chardonnay from the early nineties. It tasted like nectar. Oaked nectar. But not too much oak. It had backbone and flavour but it didn't throttle you with wood and the acid didn't pucker your mouth. Perfect.
Back to the beans. Cook some arborio rice in the way you personally favour, with all your preferred stock, wine, pepper, salt, butter or olive oil additions. When rice is almost done, fold through cooked broad beans. Now add some butter and grated cheese. Serve with crusty bread and the rest of the sauvignon blanc. The herbacious nose and flavour is a good foil for the beans.
November 1. I can't believe it's nearly Christmas. I can't believe the album from which the following lyrics are taken is nearly twenty years old. I still play it all the time. It stands up well with plenty of sax and hammond organ and a spoken-word track called On Hyndford Street which, played late on a hot night, takes you straight to Belfast. But this song is All Saints' Day:
See the streamline blue horizon
With you baby by the way
Won’t you come and see me, All Saints' Day?
You can make your reservation
I will meet you at the station
When you come to see me, All Saints' Day.