The following reports are about some of our earlier events…
A Stewtastic Night…
Assorted Nibbles with a welcome aperitif
Szechaun Bang Bang Chicken Salad
Poached cold chicken shreds served with rice noodles,
Cucumber & Peanut Butter sesame oil dressing with a hint of chilli
A Pork Fest – Crispy Pork Belly and Braised Pigs Cheeks
Creamy Mashed Potato
Hari’s Cheeseboard with Porridge Oat Biscuits
A selection of specially selected cheeses
served with our infamous biscuits
Chocolate Torte with a Red Berry compote
Coffee with homemade butter shortbread biscuits
We felt this month we should have a winter theme so called it “stewtastic suppers”… basically the dishes we served were slow cooked…
We also managed to raise another £180 for the Hospice in the Weald through our raffle so thanks to all those who took part.
Our evenings kicked off with a selection of nibbles served with a welcome glass of bucks fizz – our nibbles included a smoked salmon & dill panna cotta served on little toasts.
The starter we then served was a Chinese inspired one… poached chicken that is shredded when cold and served as a salad. Strips of chicken, cucumber and some rice noodles all add assorted textures and then a peanut butter and sesame oil dressing finish the salad off. A last minute drizzle of chilli oil provides the bang bang kick to complete this Szechaun dish.
Next I had decided to show case a couple of cheaper cuts of meat and one in particular – Pigs Cheeks. These are one of those forgotten cuts that has become very fashionable in top end restaurants mainly because it is cheap to purchase and is a dish that is ideal to a slow cooking process and can provide a “wow” factor.
We served two cheeks that had been pan fried for colour and then braised in an apple juice based sauce for at least two hours to tenderise the meat alongside a piece of confited (poached in lard) pork belly that I had slowly poached for about three hours and then crisped in a hot oven. We also served a smooth creamy mashed potato with this and for added pork some pancetta wrapped green beans !!
Next we then in French fashion served a selection of cheeses, all were French and included a blue – fourme d’ambert, Maroilles, Petit Munster, Cantal, Morbier au lait cru and a sliver of a Vieux Mimolette all with our porridge oat biscuits.
To complete the meal we then served a rich chocolate torte made with a 74% cocoa solids chocolate that with the addition of condensed milk and cream produces a rich truffle like textured torte that is frozen to set it…
It is a recipe I have to say is not mine but Chef Phil Vickery’s and is Mrs Hari Covert favourite chocolate pudding. With it we served a red berry compote and also a spoonful of crème fraiche and a small glass of sweet red wine called Maury from the Languedoc–Roussillon region that seemed to go down well. Finally with the coffee we served a homemade butter shortbread biscuit.
We are now busy planning & organising for our next dinners in December – it will be our Christmas theme…in the meantime if you are interested Hari Covert will be giving a cookery demo at Yalding Gardens Christmas Fair on Sunday 28th November (11:30am and 2:30pm) showing all you budding gourmets how to use up some of those Christmas leftovers.
We hope to see you there…
Kir Normande with nibbles
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Caramelised Red Onion Tart with Goats cheese
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Fillet of Beef with a Red Wine & Wild Mushroom Ragout
Runner Beans and Carrots
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Hari’s Cheese selection with homemade Porridge Oat biscuits
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Apple & Walnut Torte served with Walnut ice cream
(it will contain nuts
We were “maxed out” on both nights with some very appreciative guests who not only loved the food but also seemed to love the concept as well. The whole purpose for us we have to say…
So we did it… It was our most ambitious dinner yet… We joined forces with Yalding Gardens located on the outskirts of Yalding to put together a fitting end to their National Apple Day celebrations… A dinner was formulated to showcase the versatility of this revered fruit.
When Paul Smith the new operator of Yalding Gardens approached us about doing the dinner the brief was to bring the Hari Covert mystery and fun to the Gardens and at the same time produce an event to be a memorable one…
Well we love a challenge and to then try and not only produce a menu of interest with the fruit but also cook and serve to an audience of what turned out to be forty eight discerning diners was a tough ask (We normally only cook for a maximum of twelve)
We kicked the evening off with welcome drink of Cassis mixed with local English cider so apples made their first of many appearances here. As guests mingled in the Bushel Box shop area before being invited to their tables they were also served a couple of canapés with an apple theme. A creamy goats cheese mixed with some grated cox’s orange pippin was served on toasts and then some hot little sausage meat patties with dried apple and Kentish Cob nuts was the other choice.
So the noise levels rose as guest sat down at they’re appointed tables… each had a tagged variety of apple as a centrepiece and their table placemats explained the evenings menu and procedure to the guests.
We then served the first course of smoked mackerel rillettes. The flaked mackerel was mixed with grated apple and a moistened with some yoghurt and chopped chives. Served with a light salad of sliced apples, chopped walnuts and some thin slices of melba toast. We hope it illustrated well the use of apples to cut against the rich oiliness of the fish.
Guests seemed appreciative as wiped clean plates returned to the kitchen and we then provided an extra course to our guests. We then served a luscious pink ruby red apple sorbet as a little palate cleanser.
For the main course we had decided the meat should be British Pork as it is a classic with apple. The cut used was the prime one of fillet and this we wrapped in thin slices of Pancetta Ham and after roasting we served it with some wedges of Reuben Apples and a sauce made with red wine and Calvados (French Apple Brandy). We served some shredded white cabbage perfumed with some caraway seeds and some Yalding Gardens carrots.
Finally we served either a platter of local cheeses or an Apple Trilogy – three apple desserts. The cheese platters comprised of a three cheeses a wedge of Winterdale Shaw, Scrumpy and one we named Hari’s Button. The Winterdale Shaw comes from the top of Wrotham Hill. It’s a lovely cheddar like cheese made by cheese-maker Robin Betts and matured in his own underground cellars. Scrumpy was a cheesed laced with cider and herbs and then Hari’s Button. A cheese we had concocted, sultanas marinated in calvados married to a soft blue cheese and a creamy cream cheese… all served with our porridge oat biscuits and also some amazing Kentish Apple Crisps from Perry Court Farm nr Wye.
The Apple Trilogy was an individual apple crumble and lovely moist Apple and Cinnamon Cake and a Sunset Baked Apple served with Taywell Vanilla Ice Cream.
Then to complete the evening we served some peanut butter fudge with the addition of some chopped dried apple along with the coffees.
So we had done it – served apples with every course and we hope all our guests as they wended their way home had enjoyed what had been a fitting end to Paul’s dream of a true National Apple Day celebration.
The evening had been well attended and we hope had also highlighted the hard work Paul and his enthusiastic team are doing at the Gardens. He needs all our support, it is a mammoth task to maintain the Gardens and also develop the place into something to be proud of.
Let’s hope in our small little way we have helped to raise awareness of the sterling work being undertaken and that support will blossom and grow like so many of the plants within…
A feast of fish…our September dinners
Nibbles on arrival
Kentish Smoked Trout, horseradish cream and beetroot coulis
Poached Fillets of South Coast Plaice
Beurre Blanc infused with root ginger, sun dried tomatoes & chives.
Baby New Potatoes
Courgettes & Green Beans
Cheese boards with homemade oat biscuits
Homemade Chocolate Brownie, Raspberry Coulis and Cornish Clotted Cream
Coffee and Amaretti Biscuits
Well the “Feast of Fish” dinners have now been done and dusted… we are pleased to announce we think they went rather well.
We had a raft of new guests book this time and like many over the next few months due to the article that appeared in the Index Magazine earlier in the year.
It was a great crowd on both nights and we think they all enjoyed themselves and if that is the case feel free to leave a comment here or perhaps on our Facebook fans page.
I managed to slightly annoy one Twitter follower on the Friday night as I tweeted the dinners progress…they tweeted the following “ I’m stuck on a train and starving. Your tweets are tworture”… sorry
It does however provide me with much pleasure and satisfaction as it has helped prove a point as to the value of social media for marketing our little venture. I also managed to raise the comment from @daveybarnetta guest on Saturday’s dinner how was I managing to tweet and cook dinner!!! Well the benefits of Hootsuite and the scheduling of tweets and Facebook postings is a very useful little tool.
It is also pleasing to report that traffic to our web site continually grows with on average nearly 800 hits per month and the next two months scheduled dinners are already fully booked along with a waiting list of expectant diners.
Well back to our feast of fish dinner…the theme was to serve at least two fish dishes and we did this with a cold starter of smoked trout followed by the poached plaice. The trout we served with the classic combination of horseradish mixed with whipped cream and then married to a puree of freshly cooked beetroot that was pureed and blended with olive oil. The presentation was done like a pastry mille feuille and layered between crisp filo pastry leaves (hence the mille feuille) the addition of some chopped black salted Greek olives provides a salty dimension to cut against the earthiness and sweetness of the beetroot. It was a rich flavoured but light start to the meal.
We used a well-respected supplier for all of our fish this was “Chapman’s of Sevenoaks”. They supply a plethora of top quality restaurants throughout the county and around the southeast as well as central London. I left it to their capable hands to advise me as to what was freshest and they come up trumps with some beautiful zingy fresh Plaice. They purchase direct from the day fishing boats that land their catches around our southeast coasts. I had decided to match the fish with a delicate beurre blanc sauce that was infused with some fresh root ginger, the addition chopped sun dried tomatoes and then some fresh chopped chives made a lovely delicate sauce to go with the fish. Their home delivery service was excellent so please give them a try out and tell them Hari sent you!!!
We then in true French tradition served a cheese course next. For this we had an interesting selection. The English Cheddar was accompanied by an un-pasteurised Camembert, then a very ripe and runny Epoisses from the Burgundy region, and then a sliver of a mature vintage Gouda and finally a cheese I had made up myself in homage to Juliette Gauby from the Fromagerie in Rivesaltes. This was called a “Bleu de Rancio” and was a layer of goat’s cheese that then had some sherry soaked raisins sprinkled on it and then a layer of Bleu D’Auvergne and Stilton crumbled over it and more raisins topped by another layer of the creamed goats cheese. Well chilled for a couple of days meant this was then nicely matured.
With it we served our homemade porridge biscuits seasoned with sea salt and ground Szechwan pepper. We also served some rather special apples with the cheese. Some freshly picked Millers Seedlings from trees that were over one hundred years old. They are a very old variety and not commercially sold as they are subject to bruising very easily. I would encourage you to try them if you ever see them.
I was reading an article by Jay Rayner that stated we now import some 70% of the apples we eat in the UK and so when we have such fruit locally we should eat them…
We are please to announce we have been asked by Yalding Gardens to host a special dinner to celebrate National Apple Day on October 23rd… check out the detailshere… with an apple inspired menu that we are hosting in conjunction with Paul Smith the new owner of these rather special Gardens. We still have a bit of space so do check it out.
To round the meal off we then served a homemade chocolate brownie served with a tart raspberry coulis and a dollop of Cornish clotted cream… the brownie was studded with chopped hazelnuts, pistachios and chunks of chocolate… a big finish that seemed to go down well.
This completed what we hope was an enjoyable meal for all our guests… we had a lovely comment scrawled on the back of one of our menu placemats I quote
“Thank you, thank you for such a marvellous experience of dining!!! Delicious menu & delicious to eat!!! Worth such a lot more recognition!! All Power to your elbow!!”
We are now heading into autumn so will be reflecting this with our next menus…we look forward to welcoming new and past customers.
For our latest report on “Our Last dinner” I thought we would write about a special night that we held this week in which we were booked out with a private party…
When I started doing dinners earlier this year I thought it would be worthwhile to do a bit of clandestine marketing via a networking group… well I could not have chosen a finer bunch than the Tunbridge Wells Twuddlers!!!…
They made me feel welcome from the off and have been very helpful in spreading the word… I am not located in Tunbridge Wells so could technically be described as an “outsider” but the group could not have been more supportive.
I originally set up this venture to prove a point to someone that using the social media of Twitter & Facebook you could generate a following and it would be a very useful way of spreading the word in a very cost effective way of attracting new customers…
I am a relative newby in the world of tweeting and it has been a steep learning curve in how to provide the right amount of interaction and they ways in which your customers can engage with you. I have to say I have had many a chuckle and a smile with the tweets from fellow twuddlers and enjoy the banter I witness each day and have discovered many new things about the town and area.
This week’s meal held on a sultry summers evening was designed very much to accommodate two twuddlers very keen to have an underground dining experience – @AnkerTW and @MrsAnkerTW both work weekends and some pretty unsociable hours so unable to attend our normal dinner times.
Deserving a special mention @Mrs_Felon and @felt_tip_felon made an incredible trek across country with a nightmare journey home (Will provide provisions next time if required!!!) and then @loslungdenim made the 11th member… alas one had to pull out last minute…
We decided on what we thought would be a light summery menu that could also easily accommodate two vegetarians and so kicked the meal off with a chilled soup…@dormansblue was sceptical on this but I think we won her over… it was an old English recipe that provided the inspiration for a chilled cucumber and dill soup.
Cucumbers were sweated off with chopped onion and then a vegetable stock that had the addition of an abundance of dill… the soup then blitzed with a puree stick… and finished when chilled with an additional good handful of freshly chopped fresh dill and some creamy Greek yoghurt.
We added for another flavour dimension a garnish of hot kiln smoked salmon… this seemed to go down well and is one of those soups you can serve hot as well… MrsHariCovert tried this the next night for her supper and gave it the thumbs up as well so a bit of a result…
Next I decided to serve a hot pasta style dish of potato gnocchi with a fresh sage and garlic butter, simple but tasty topped with some freshly grated Pecorino cheese… all plates came back clean so I think they liked this…
Main course was a dish I am rather fond of… a roasted pork fillet served with a sauce made using lager beer and freshly roasted caraway seeds. The bitterness of the sauce is well suited to the aromatic herb and is a light jus for the meat… we cooked the meat over our fire pit as this gave the meat a lovely “smokey” flavour and made sure the meat was sprayed with beer in its final cooking to keep it all moist… apple juice in a spray bottle is also a good tip for keeping meats moist over a barbecue.
We served a classic Gratin Dauphinoise of thinly sliced potatoes cooked in a garlic scented cream and then green beans with the addition of podded and shelled broad beans and some petit pois. The meat was lovely and tender and once again not a morsel was left…
To complete their meal they tucked into another “British” classic of a dessert… a Lemon Posset – the gentle boiling of thick double cream with sugar and the addition of lemon juice makes a delightful thick cream when chilled with just the right tang… with this I served some homemade shortbread biscuits that had the addition of some lavender scented sugar that produced another flavour dimension… some freshly picked raspberries provided both colour and flavour.
The evening was I think a success and they seemed to like the idea of trying to produce an artistic caption/logo on their placemat menus…in fact the results can be seen on our competition page… we have set it up as a poll and you can all vote for your favourite…no prizes just the kudos of knowing that the winning picture will be incorporated and used in some form or another in future events /web sites…
We are now amazed to find we are fully booked all the way up to November…thanks in part to the wonderful write up in the Index Magazine and of course those lovely people at twuddle.
We are looking at adding some extra dates and also are planning some extra events…more details soon… you can also bid for Hari as a slave this next week at a special event happening in Tunbridge Wells check out the link… he is giving himself away to cook a dinner for four people in your own home in aid of funds for the Kent Air Ambulance… so if you cannot get to a dinner then have him come to you and cook for you…you will be helping a worthwhile charity along the way.
We hope to see you soon at a future Hari Covert dinner…
covert by name, covert by nature
Spring has Sprung – April 23rd and April 24th
Well we have just completed our fourth round of dinners and we have to say these have been our most successful yet.
Well how do we measure success? Satisfied customers could be one way but we hope all our customers leave satisfied and pleased by their experience.
Or are we a success because we served a large number of customers? Well on this occasion I guess we are doubly successful. Customers left happy and we filled every available space.
Just over two weeks before the dinners we had taken our final reservation. Both nights full, that is to say available tables and seating were being fully used.
For me though the most gratifying part of it all this was the fact that just four months ago we had no customers but just an idea and now we had a full house.
How have we achieved this? Well I guess firstly as one friend recently commented it is my (meaning Hari) most perfect restaurant. Namely I cook what I want and serve it to whom I want – well almost.
I certainly do get a kick from putting together a menu that I hope excites the diner. It’s a challenge to me to balance the dishes to ensure from a cooking point of view it is enough to keep me occupied but not so much that weeks before hand I am slaving and spending an inordinate number of hours cooking as much as I love it!!! It’s all a matter of balance.
For me though the biggest challenge has been how do we tell people about our restaurant? Friends and family have been informed but the biggest factor has been how to tell the wider public in an affordable cost effective way. The answer has been what is oft described as “viral Marketing” using the Internet and social media networks of Facebook and Twitter. Six months ago no fans on Facebook now some 30 plus and getting to nearly 100 followers on Twitter. These modern phenomenons are spreading the word and with just a little effort it spreads even more. Without it things would have been much harder.
I hope however the food and wines chosen are also a major factor in our success and this time we felt we got a menu balance right. We kicked the meal off with a little toast topped with some sautéed mushrooms that included some morels and cepes in a sherry cream sauce.
We then served a dish that holds fond memories for me… A pressed leek terrine garnished with saffron vinaigrette with crabmeat and a garnish of little balls of potato that had been poached in saffron infused water. These little balls had been cut using a Solferino cutter… a chefs piece of equipment that had caused much mirth and frustration as our last “what is it?” competition!!! The fond memory is a similar dish served by three star Michelin chef Pierre Koffmann who apparently is coming out of retirement to cook once again at the Berkeley Hotel London in the Boxwood Café – I can’t wait…
Main course was a roasted chump of lamb from Glovers Farm Longfield, simply roasted and rested and then simply served with a crumb laced with foraged wild garlic. This spring herb is an abundant and oft overlooked freebie that can often be found alongside old roman roads as was allegedly spread by the Romans on their travels. I once had a meal in Switzerland that used this item at every course… a salad with torn leaves, a soup of it and then a bowl of spaghetti with a wild garlic pesto dressing… I am glad to say they drew the line at wild garlic sorbet to finish!!!
We then moved onto some local cheeses…as promised the Winterdale Shaw from the top of Wrotham Hill, a Wealdway Goats log rolled in ash (not volcanic by the way) from Nut Knowle Farm Horam Sussex, a tangy Kentish Blue and a Sussex Camembert and then an impostor from across the channel a Tomme de Montagne. We served them on little individual wooden boards and with it gave some of our special oat biscuits. A batch of porridge has the addition of sea salt and Szechwan peppercorns and thinly spread onto parchment paper and baked till dry a crisp. Simple but very moreish.
The dessert was a cake but totally flourless one… it was a made with boiled fresh oranges and then these once chilled are blitzed in a food processor and then added to eggs sugar and ground almonds and chopped hazelnuts. It is baked and left to cool. I served it with a marmalade coulis and a vanilla scented cream. With it we served once again our Muscat de Rivesaltes. It is one of my favourite wines and is from a region of France that is diverse as its wines. Others from the region of Languedoc Roussillon include a Maury a red sweet fortified wine or a Banyuls a similar wine from around the villages of Banyuls, Collioure and Port-Vendres.
There was a real buzzy atmosphere in our restaurant and it was great to see our guests relaxed and obviously enjoying themselves… We are now planning the next three events so watch out for more details.