A Very Special - And Prolonged - Michaelmas For The Goose

UK - The early autumn festival of Michaelmas takes on a special meaning this year for goose producers across the country - and equally for discerning diners.
calendar icon 1 October 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Michaelmas Day was traditionally celebrated on September 29. It was one of the quarter days when tenant farmers paid their rent and according to custom a goose for the landlord would help dissuade him from putting up the rent.

Interest in the Michaelmas goose is returning and this year - the 25th anniversary of the British Goose Producers (BGP) - more restaurants than ever are choosing to feature goose on the menu during the next fortnight.

As a prelude to Michaelmas London's oldest and favourite privately owned five-star hotel, The Goring, held a tasting of five geese from different regions. The geese were provided by Michael Coleman (Milton Abbas, Blandford, Dorset); Judy Goodman (Great Witley, Worcester); Anne Hughes (Layer de le Haye, Colchester, Essex); Nigel and Brenda Tucker (Long Drag, Tiverton, Devon); and Norfolk Geese (Pulham Market, Norfolk).

Traditional these geese would have gleaned the harvest stubble, but now they are reared on pasture and fed home-grown wheat. A panel of prominent food writers tasted breast and leg meat, and skin, from each bird and deemed the joint winners Michael Coleman and Anne Hughes.

Mr Coleman has been rearing Michaelmas geese for 30 years and is producing more this year to cater for local pubs re-introducing Michaelmas menus. At The Goring a combination of all five geese will be served from Michaelmas Day (29 September) until 6 October, with traditional braised red cabbage and apple sauce.

The Michaelmas celebrations continue next month in Norfolk where the festival is traditionally celebrated a fortnight later on October 11 with BGP members gathering for their annual farm walk at Norfolk Geese, the home of the modern revival in goose production.

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