Feasting on Michaelmas Goose All Week Long

UK - The feast of Michaelmas – a traditional quarter day still associated with aspects of English life today – is being celebrated through goose meals being served at more restaurants each year.
calendar icon 6 September 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

It was on Michaelmas Day (29 September in most of the country except on 4 October in Suffolk and 11 October in Norfolk), the first day of the new farming year, when tenants would often present their landlord with a goose on paying rent for the quarter. And at many top universities and public schools the expression is still used in referring to the 'Michaelmas term'.

Judy Goodman, chairman of British Goose Producers, part of the British Poultry Council, rears around 200 geese for Michaelmas and has seen a steady build-up in demand at this time of the year.

"Traditionally, the Michaelmas geese would have gleaned on the stubble fields after harvest," says Mrs Goodman, of Great Witley, near Worcester. "We rear them on grass and wheat today, and achieve the leaner type of geese, without their winter coats, that are so delicious at this time of the year."

One of her customers, Annie Clift at the Talbot country inn at Knightwick, in the Teme Valley, responded to demand two years ago and put Michaelmas goose on the menu for a whole week rather than a single day.

"We run our menu like a 19th century farmhouse kitchen," she says. "That means taking full advantage of food that's in season and we'll probably be serving 100 to 150 goose meals during our Michaelmas week."

In Dorset, the Brace of Pheasants at Plush introduces goose to the menu at Michaelmas and serves slices of smoked goose on a confit. "This makes a fantastic dish," says proprietor, Phil Bennett. "Each year more of our customers discover what a special treat a goose provides."

The pub restaurant obtains geese from local producer Michael Colman, at Blandford, who also supplies one of London's top hotels – The Goring in Grosvenor Gardens – which will serve goose every day during Michaelmas week.

"We started introducing Michaelmas geese five years ago," says head chef, Derek Quelch. "Within a couple of years goose proved so popular we extended the menu for the week. Our customers like it served in the very traditional way with braised red cabbage."

For details of producers selling Michaelmas geese, visit www.geese.cc/pages/wheretobuygeese.html.

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