Festive Frolics December 2011…

Our Festive Christmas Dinners and Lunches…

Well as Christmas now fast approaches we have completed our festive dinners and nearly completed all our festive lunches.

We started with the normal weekend of dinners and were once again a full house… it is with much pride and trepidation that we find ourselves fully booked pretty much as soon as we release the tables. It has however been very much the article that appeared in Index magazine back in June this year that has helped spread the word and also a local networking group that I discovered early on that have been a massive support to me.

The group based in nearby Tunbridge Wells and known as Twuddle and Twuttle are a mixed bunch who basically use twitter to loosely network and stage a range of imaginative and friendly social gatherings…When I totalled up our weekend guests I found 50% had booked via Twuddle/Twuttle connections…  guess that illustrates well the power social media can have on the business and the ways to source customers! I would like to say how privileged I feel to have found them and more importantly how they have embraced what I am doing…

Equally the editorial/revue that was done by Index Magazine in June 2010 has also been very helpful and looking at my web stats seems to have been responsible for increasing the traffic to my site to what now is circa averaging 1000 hits per month. (In fact 50% more when the article appeared) The immediate effect has meant my dinners were booked up for about 3 months ahead and has also helped to ensure repeat customers. So it was a real pleasure to supply the editor with her secret Santa present of a specially made batch of porridge biscuits and Hari’s Christmas Buttons when she asked could I do some as the person who had sampled them initially when they reviewed me had not stopped raving about them since… perhaps there is a market for them out there!

Well now to the report – first the dinners started this time with a welcome glass of Cider & Crème de Cassis commonly known as a Kir Normande. With this we served some little cheese quiches and other nibbles before then serving a smoked salmon rillettes that was garnished with a fresh mango salsa, chopped mango was mixed with olive oil and Cameroon Mango Vinegar. This provided the right balance to the rich oily texture of the chopped smoked salmon that had been bound with crème fraiche and freshly chopped dill. Thin melba toasts went with this.

The main course we served was a classic Confit of Duck. The leg of a Barbary Duck is very gently poached in the duck fat for a couple of hours. To finish this in then roasted in a hot oven until it goes crispy… another good 20-30 minutes. We served a bed of Puy Green lentils from the Auvergne region of France that had the addition of finely diced smoked bacon, leek, celeriac and carrot to add flavour and then a jus scented with a pinch of cinnamon added the wetness required. With such a rich meat and filling lentils we thought a light side salad would go best and so we served some blanched green beans that were then mixed with toasted Kent Cobnuts and a Cobnut Oil dressing.

The oil and nuts coming from the local producer… In fact the only UK producer for said product… that was recently featured on Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

We then moved onto the cheese course that featured a Christmas version of Hari’s Buttons. This time we soaked dried cranberries in a homemade apricot schnapps..(A friend in Switzerland supplies me) and then layers of a blue cheese and a cream cheese. We also served some Winterdale Shaw from cheesemaker Robin Betts and a very good ripe Coulommier and Petit Munster from France. The porridge oat biscuits, once again, going perfectly with them.

For dessert we thought a festive menu without the Christmas pudding would be deemed as sacrilege so decided on our version should be an iced parfait. This we served with a marmalade sauce and to supply the ubiquitous pudding flame we served a little vessel with a burning tot of Cuarenta y Tres (43) from Spain. It certainly gave us the “wow factor” and the glass of Rivesaltes Tuile – a sweet red wine with it was this month’s dessert wine choice.

In all we felt we provided a good festive menu that had classics alongside some experimental ideas that seemed to go down well.

Certainly we have had some lovely comments… our twitter followers provided some of the following revues

Chris_Maslin Dec 11, 11:28pm via TwitterJust back from @MrHariCovert’s, the courses kept comin, we could barely fit into car afterwards! Thanks Hari!

Chris_Maslin 8:45am via TwitterToday’s gonna be tough. Still full from @MrHariCovert, got B&B fry up in a minute, then full Sunday roast for lunch…no belt today!

EvthingCupcakes 9:23am via TweetDeckSet the shoulder of lamb to start cooking at 7am for a slow cook. Still stuffed from @MrHariCovert & the thought of another meal, bleurgh!

EvthingCupcakes 9:09am via TweetDeckHad a wonderful dinner last night at @MrHariCovert Still so full cannot even contemplate more than a coffee for breakfast!

LTrebs 9:55am via Osfoora for iPhoneDinner at @MrHariCovert One of the nicest meals I’ve had recently. Lovely atmosphere along with good food. Great combination.

LTrebs 9:50am via Osfoora for iPhoneJust finished my breakfast coffee. Too full for food right now. Unusual for me. All down to dinner last night at @MrHariCovert 🙂

KeepTriin10:42am via Web Back down to earth with a bump. Wonderful weekend away with @EvthingCupcakes and @LTrebs. Fantastic dining experience with @MrHariCovert !!

For the lunches we decided on a similar menu but just the three courses. We also gave our diners a pre ordered choice so they kicked off with either a homemade Ham Hock terrine served with a red onion and dried cranberry chutney or a spicy curried parsnip soup with crispy croutons. Then we served either the Duck confit or a roasted fillet of salmon served atop a bed of roasted winter vegetables garnished with either a meat jus or a green mojo salsa.

To round off the festivities we served a homemade traditional sherry trifle or a board of our specially selected cheeses. We served them the Winterdale Shaw and a Stichelton. The Winterdale being the cheddar like hard cheese from atop Wrotham Hill and the Stichelton is what a true Stilton should be. It is made from unpasteurised milk by an American cheesemaker on the Welbeck estate in Nottinghamshire. It really is rather special.

We also at the lunches knowing we had some competitive guests ran a little Christmas themed quiz and a winner each day who went home with a bottle of Muscat de Rivesaltes as their prize. – perfect to go with their Christmas Pud!!!

All in all a very good festive season and we would like to wish all our followers a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2011