September Newsletter


Last week I received the following email from the Angel Centre:

I am sorry to say that at the present time there is no positive update on the opening of the meeting rooms. As soon as we have any movement on the opening of these facilities we will be in contact.

I will update you again on the situation in the next newsletter.


Following on from Geoff’s column on Bartrams Brewery last month, I have found this article on the brewery in the online newspaper, Tonbridge Daily:

An interesting Tonbridge fact concerning free beer for all !!!!!!

Did you know in February 1840 free beer was distributed to the 'industrious poor' of the town so that they could celebrate the wedding of Queen Victoria in style. And in 1855, the people of Tonbridge partied on free beer which was provided by Bartram’s Brewery, to mark the end of the Crimean War Campaign. Bartrams was situated close to The Big Bridge and more or less where the Wetherspoon's garden is now. Apparently the whole town made merry, the brewery cannons were fired from the castle wall and fireworks were set off from barges and in the street.

Photo courtesy of Tonbridge Historical Society shows Bartrams Brewery to the left, Tonbridge Waterworks chimney in the distance and a frozen winter town river. Date unknown.


September is the month for apples. This recipe does not require a large quantity of apples and, even better, the wine will be ready to drink after 3 months.

APPLE WINE, TV Times - Make your own Wine

4 lb cooking apples or 6 lb dessert apples, minced or chopped

6 pints water                        2 ¼ lb sugar

½ oz pectic enzyme              Nutrient

Yeast                                    1 crushed Campden tablet

Pour the water into a fermenting bin, add the apples and pectic enzyme, then leave to soak for 24 hours. Stir in the yeast and nutrient. Leave in a warm place for 3 days, stirring once or twice daily. Strain through a muslin cloth and dissolve the sugar in the juice.  Pour into a demijohn and top up to the neck with water, if necessary.  Fit an air lock. Ferment and rack in the normal way.

Note: Add a crushed Campden tablet to this wine before bottling or on second racking to help stabilise it.


This is Pusser’s rum signature cocktail and originates from the British Virgin Islands.


60 ml Pusser’s Rum

120 ml pineapple juice

30 ml orange juice

30 ml cream of coconut

Freshly grated nutmeg

  • Add liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
  • Pour into a large glass or goblet filled with ice. Grate fresh nutmeg on top.
  • Garnish with an orange slice and cherry (optional).


Blackberries: Tom reported that they ripened very early this year.

Elderberries: A good crop this year.

Hawthorn berries: We have a good crop in our garden which Geoff has picked. Alas, he hasn’t used them for winemaking, instead he has made hawthorn berry chutney. I have attached the recipe. The picking and de-stoning was hard work, but it will be interesting to try in a few weeks’ time.


This is a wonderful autumnal chutney that blends well with bread and cheese, hot and cold meats and ploughman's lunches. This recipe will keep well, and is at it's best when allowed to mature for at least a month before serving.

Ingredients: *
1 kg of hawthorn berries
1/2 litre of cider vinegar
325g brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger                                                  
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg                                                 
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves                                                   
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice                                                   
ground black pepper                                                  
handful of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped (optional)

How to make hawthorn berry chutney
(1) After picking the berries, remove them from their stalks. 
(2) Wash well, drain and place the berries in a saucepan.
(3) Pour the cider vinegar over the saucepan, add the salt, and bring to the boil. 
(4) Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. 
(5) Remove from heat, and sieve well with a strainer.
(6) Return the sieved mixture to another saucepan (approximately 1 pint of liquid), and add the sugar, spices and black pepper.
(7) Cook for 10 minutes. Just before removing from the heat, stir in the chopped thyme leaves. 
(8) Remove from heat, and pour carefully into clean, dry jars, lid, label and date. 

 *This recipe is courtesy of Paul of Wild Food and Recipes UK at

Note: Geoff picked 1 lb of hawthorn berries and halved all the ingredients.  This quantity filled a 1 lb jar and a smaller one.



Here is a change from sweet things. This recipe is ideal for using up cooked chicken.

Chicken, Pancetta & Chestnut Pie, Sunday Times

30g salted butter

2 leeks

150g pancetta, cubed

200g vacuum packed chestnuts, roughly chopped

450g roast chicken meat, skin removed

1 tbsp plain flour

200ml chicken stock

150ml single cream

120ml white wine

3 sheets of filo pastry, 38cm x 30cm

3-4 tbsp sunflower oil

Heat the oven to 200C (220C non fan). Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Trim the leeks and cut into 2-3cm chunks. Toss the leeks into the pan and cook for 5 minutes or so until they soften and brown at the edges. Add the pancetta and chestnuts to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until the pancetta has cooked through.

Shred the chicken into small pieces, then toss in the flour with plenty of salt and pepper.

Add the floured chicken to the pan and mix with the other ingredients. Pour in the stock, cream and wine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and allow the sauce to bubble for 4-5 minutes until it thickens. Remove from the heat and spoon everything into an ovenproof pie dish.

Spread out the filo sheets and then fold in half and trim the folded edge. Use a pair of scissors to cut the layered sheets of pastry into 4 triangles. You should have 24 in all.

Pour the oil into a small bowl. Brush each triangle lightly with oil, then loosely scrunch it up. Place the scrunched pastry on top of the filling and repeat with each piece of pastry, until the pie is completely covered.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden and the filling is bubbling.

CUTTINGS – with an Italian Flavour

A Revival of Black Death Wine Windows

Daily Telegraph: Bars in the historic city centre of Florence have started reusing “wine windows”, tiny holes that were carved into the walls or wooden doors of palazzi owned by Italian nobles. The 12” high holes, known as buchette del vino, enabled wine to be sold without the risk of catching the plague in the 1630’s. An empty flask would be placed in the niche and then filled up with wine. The customer would place coins on a metal palette and the coins would be immediately sterilised in vinegar. The holes, protected by tiny wooden or iron doors, were manned by servants of the wealthy households.

These windows have been brought back into use as a result of Covid-19 to safely serve wine, coffee and even gelato.

Over the centuries many of the wine windows had been sealed up or destroyed. However around 180 remain in Florence and there are another 95 in other parts of Tuscany. Although the wine windows were popular during the 1630’s they were initially constructed in the 1500’s. Cosimo I de' Medici, then the ruler of Florence, decreed that nobles could sell their own wine from their palazzi in the city without paying taxes. They were not allowed to open bars or tavernas and so they created the little holes in their buildings. This worked well for buyer and seller as the nobleman didn’t have to pay taxes and the wine sold from the holes was cheaper than in shops and bars.  Wine windows can only be found in Tuscany.

Italian Wine to be turned into Hand Gel

Daily Telegraph: Around 1 million gallons of Italian wine (equivalent to 70 million bottles) will be distilled and turned into 92% alcohol under a €50 million (£45.1 million) scheme subsided by the government. Italian vintners have been unable to sell the wine produced from last year’s harvest due to Covid-19 causing a collapse in demand. They now need to make room in their cellars for this year’s harvest.

MUSINGS – an Italian one

Age and glasses of wine should never be counted.

  An Italian proverb

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Latest comments

05.10 | 15:57

Just to let you know we are up and running again. Our next meeting is on Thursday 7 Oct, a commercial wine tasting. Pls let me know if you would like to come.

05.10 | 15:53

Thank you for visiting our website. We will ask our members at our meeting on Thursday and let you know if anyone is interested.

05.10 | 15:00

Good afternoon. We have a lot of black grapes ready for harvesting. Just wondered whether anyone would like them?
We’re based in Sevenoaks

09.09 | 18:31

Looks yummy! You list garlic in the ingredients list, but I don’t see where you add it to the recipe. I would guess that you add it to the partially sautéed oni

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