LET me spend every August abroad. I adore ambling through the bustling heat of outdoor markets, in France or Italy perhaps, and when I eventually encounter a table of peaches for sale, I fall on them, like my children rush at ice cream shops. The first peach gets eaten on the way back to the car, juice trickling up my wrist. Perfection can be messy as well as delicious.

Who can walk past perfumed blushing peaches, with velvet skin and flesh more delicate than any other fruit? The white-fleshed peach, in particular, is a truly elegant fruit, famous for its association with the classic Bellini cocktail. August is a peach of a month and the month of the peach.

A peach, properly ripe, is an instant dessert. Simply sliced, it requires little more than a spoonful of crème fraiche, ice cream or Chantilly. Some crumbled almonds or amaretto biscuits could dress things up a touch more; a peach cut in half, then grilled with honey or sabayon on top, feels positively sinful. A scattering of blood-red raspberries is always welcome – the foundation of the famous peach Melba – and cherries make an intense luscious partner.

Peaches lend subtle magic to savoury dishes. Their sweetness shines against the saltiness of cured hams or in a salad with piquant feta, tangy blue, milky mozzarella or goat's cheese. Chunks of pickled peach brighten roast duck on our summer menus or add a refreshing kiss of additional luxury to lobster.

Poached peaches, amaretti biscuits, raspberries and thick crème fraiche

Recipes serve 4

8 peaches

1ltr water

50g caster sugar

a generous bunch of tarragon, about 5g

200ml marsala

Juice and zest of 1 lime

About 8-10 amareti biscuits

A punnet of raspberries

Thick crème fraiche or double cream


1. Combine the water and sugar in a pan large enough to hold the peaches later. Heat until the water dissolves then add the lime, marsala and tarragon. Simmer for a few minutes then add the peaches and reduce the heat to a gentle shimmer: it does not want to be too bubbling or this may damage the peaches' delicate flesh. Cover with a disc of parchment paper then cook like this for 10 minutes. Remove from heat to stand until the liquid is cool.

2. Lift out the cool peaches and peel away the skins then halve the fruits and remove the stones. Return the peaches to the liquid and store in the fridge for up to two days, covered.

3. Lift the peaches out of the cooking liquor and drain on absorbent paper towel. Place four pieces neatly in a serving bowl per person.

4. Sprinkle raspberries across the peaches and allow some to tumble into the bowl itself. Crumble the biscuits roughly in your fingers and sprinkle over the peaches. Finally, dip a dessert spoon into a tub of very hot water and use this hot spoon to make a neat scoop of crème fraiche to go in the centre of each bowl. Spoon a little of the marsala cooking liquid over the peaches to moisten them then serve at once.

Salad of mozzarella, peaches, Parma ham, mint and chilli

16 slices of parma ham

4 ripe peaches

2 large balls of mozzarella

4 generous handfuls of mixed salad leaves

For the dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

3-4 tbsp olive oil

2 dstsp crème fraiche

10 basil leaves

10 mint leaves

A red chilli, diced very small


1. Start by making the dressing. Squeeze the lemon juice through a sieve into a medium-sized mixing bowl then add the creme fraiche and whisk together. Add the diced chilli then whisk in the olive oil. Set aside for now.

2. When you are ready to serve: lay out four big serving plates. Lay out 4 slices of parma ham on each plate, in waves around the outside.

3. Over a bowl, tear the mozzarella into small to medium sized chunks, allowing about 6-7 pieces per person (so aim to get 12-14 pieces of mozzarella from each ball). Arrange the mozzarella pieces in among the ham on each plate, and pop a few pieces of the cheese in the centre of each plate too.

4. Now halve the peaches and remove the stones. Cut each peach into slices and arrange most over the ham and mozzarella, reserving about 12 slices for later.

5. Tear up the herbs and add to the dressing then whisk together. Place the salad leaves in the middle of the plates then spoon the dressing over the leaves and around the outside on the ham and mozzarella. Finally, scatter the reserved peach slices and serve at once

Geoffrey Smeddle is the chef patron of The Peat Inn, by St Andrews, Fife KY15 5LH 01334 840206 www.thepeatinn.co.uk