Category Archives: Event

Maybe fun…Maybe not…

Well we have now opened the bookings for our next dinners on Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st.

We will be cooking some great seasonal produce in what we hope you will find a fun way…

We will reveal the menu in due course as we are just putting the final touches to it…

If you wish to book a space at this next dinner then please go to our Book Now page and complete the reservation form.

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name…covert by nature

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Countdown to the big night…

Wedding Mania gripping the UK...?

Well we are less than a week away now from our dinner to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton. It is quite a challenge juggling the normal day job whilst trying to arrange a dinner for 48 people in a strange kitchen/venue. I know I have done a dinner at the Gardens before but there is still much to organise.

Leeks are about to be dug so I can start to make the pressed Leek Terrines. I then have to collect the Lamb from our chosen butchers Glovers. I have used them for lamb in the past and been very impressed by the quality so fingers crossed they do not let me down!!!

I will also collect the Winterdale Shaw when I go to collect the meat and then I am also off to Whitstable to collect some rather unusual bread that I wish to show case. The Artisan Bread Co will be supplying some of the breads and I will also be making some of my own.

There will be gluten intolerant diner so I thought this would be a good chance to try out Ingrid Greenfield’s Pea Glutini. I have known Ingrid a long time and bumped into her at last years Real Food Festival and so was keen to visit her bakery so thought this would be a great opportunity.

I will also be popping in to collect some Cobnut Oil from Hurstwood Farm that will go with the terrine.

A truly local bunch of products that we hope you will all enjoy.

Staff for the evening are all booked. I will be assisted in the kitchen by a fellow secret supper club chef and then I will also hopefully have time to mingle with the guests. I will be doing a dummy run with one of the courses this week so hope to post some pictures… in the meantime just watch this space for the May dinner menu that we hope to post shortly (after the right Royal Feast dinner) and remember that’s when the bookings then open so be quick to ensure you get your space.

Cheers

Hari

Björn Again- Tunbridge Wells March 2011…in pictures

Well it is now just over a week since we danced and strutted away to the sounds of ABBA with Björn Again at the Assembly Hall in Tunbridge Wells.Our draw prize winner David Cross has kindly provided me with a disc of some of his pictures from the day and I think it really shows what a great night it all was.

The final total we managed to raise including the bucket collection by Candice and JJ was an impressive £669.89

Once again a massive thank you to all who contributed and helped in whatever way…

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Winners took it all…a report

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Well it was the climax of our fundraising efforts for the Hospice in the Weald with our prize draw and the winner taking it all with Björn Again

It was a lovely sunny Friday in Tunbridge Wells when I got a call from Andy the tour manager for them to say they had arrived at the Assembly Hall and they were looking forward to their dinner!

As I loaded up my car and set off for the Assembly Hall… It was the culmination of some four months of fundraising and as I set up for the supper in the bar area and awaited the arrival of David Cross, his wife Adele and friends Linda and John to the sound check I chatted with Rod Stephens the director and creator of the Abba show. They had been on their current tour of the UK since early March and had just a few more shows to give before a well -earned rest.

The crew was setting up lighting rigs, all the props required for their show as I attempted to get the oven lit in the kitchen – a simple task you would have thought –  to find it all a bit of a challenge. Some in-house assistance finally meant the oven was lit and their main course was in getting ready.

The VIP guests then arrived and Rod charmingly took over and whisked them off for a gander of their tour bus parked out the back… It has three lounges and sleeping berths for 12 people. They sleep on the coach as they move from one venue to the next… when you look at their schedule they sure clock up the miles. The night prior to Tunbridge Wells they had been in Milton Keynes and then the Saturday night they would be in Bath and Sunday night their last night of the Spring Break tour would be in Wycombe.

Table set and helper Amy from the Hospice now arrived we get a chance to watch a bit of the sound check and then promptly at 5pm the cast crew with their guests all sit down for their supper. I had previously cooked at the venue for them so knew a simple meal would go down best so they then tucked into a warm mixed vegetable frittata that was served on bed of salad leaves and then followed this with either a homemade cottage pie or homemade fish pie. To round it all off they had an Orange and Hazelnut Torte with a Marmalade Mascapone Cream or local Winterdale Shaw cheese and creamy Stichleton with our porridge oat biscuits.

They were all very appreciative of our efforts to feed them they had soon pretty much polished off all that we had prepared. As they dispersed to get themselves ready we cleared up, packed up and then begun to relax in the bar with a well-earned drink as the Assembly Hall begun to fill up.

Two volunteers Candy & JJ (their stage names) who were invited by the Hospice and tasked for a collection of loose change at the end of the show arrived in their full Abba get up. They had their photos taken with Rod and even gave him a quick demo of their singing skills hoping they would get a chance to appear on stage!!! He very politely was complimentary but very non committal!!!

The venue filled and more arrived dressed in their Abba style glad rags…the Tunbridge Wells atmosphere Rod described as being very unique as the crowd dance from the very first number as the stall seats are removed.

Just before the show had kicked off our prize winners had their photos taken with the cast backstage and then they settled in to enjoy the show David and John beside the lighting and sound console whilst the ladies sat back in their seats to enjoy!

The Hospice collection volunteers headed for the front of stage… Candy and JJ’s perfected moves certainly caught the eyes of the girls on stage as they bonded for a photograph at the interval backstage and it was spookily uncanny how alike they all looked (well almost!!!)

The second half of the show continued with all those classic Abba hits from Dancing Queen to Mamma Mia. The boys onstage even had fun with their version of Jump by Van Halen whilst the girls did another costume change. The shows finale was a great singalong encore with  “Thank You for the Music”.

The collection front of house was the final fundraising push and I hope to be able to reveal the final total including the bucket collection very soon.

David, Adele, John & Linda headed back to the Ramada Jarvis Hotel at Pembury as they had generously provided overnight accommodation for them as part of the total package where they could unwind and reflect upon their day’s experience …( I am led to believe they had a drink in the bar with the guitarist as he was also staying there!)

Candy & JJ the Fabba girls headed off for a well-earned bag of chips.

The cast and crew packed their set away and boarded the tour bus.

I headed home… to find I had left my cutlery behind in the kitchen so quickly returned to retrieve it as breakfast the next day would have been messy!!!… Seats back in the stalls and the stage virtually all cleared it had been a great night…

So my big thanks to all who had made it happen and donated or supported me it was all for a great cause and especially to Rod and all from Björn Again for their generous warmth and hospitality.

I also hope to have a few more pictures to provide a pictorial memory for you all as well.

Winner takes it all…

Well we have had a very generous bunch of people donate an amazing £498.00 and the 28 names have all been placed in the “Sparkly Hat” – it really was one – a previous gift from Rod Stephens the creator and director of Björn Again to my daughter… I thought it was only fitting it should hold all the names.

Since late November last year when I had asked Rod to let me bring 4 VIP guests to see the show and the payback would be I would feed them and their guests I have worked hard to get the message across that this is a very unique “money cant buy” package.

So on Friday 25th March the winner and their guests will firstly check into their overnight accommodation courtesy of the Ramada Jarvis Hotel at Pembury. Then they will be asked to get down to the Assembly Hall in central Tundbridge Wells by circa 4pm where they will get introduced to the cast and crew and be given the chance to watch the sound check and see the backstage paraphernalia that goes into the production of this show.

At 5pm along with the cast and crew they will all sit down with our prize winner and be fed by yours truly… it will be a simple meal that hopefully not weigh too heavy on them as they will in a couple of hours be strutting their stuff on stage and entertaining a capacity house!

The cast and crew are a very friendly bunch eager to ensure you will get the most out of your evening and there will be no pressure to have two of you appear on stage but well it is a rare chance to hear the applause, appreciation and adulation after they complete their show…

You will then go back to spend your complimentary night at the Ramada Jarvis Pembury whilst the crew and cast break down their rig and then bed down for the night on their tour bus before they then head off to their next show in Bath on the Saturday night!

So I guess you all want to know who the winner is well…

The winner who takes it all is…..

the draw @ the Hospice in the Weald with the sparkly hat...

 

 

DAVID CROSS

Cheers

Hari Covert

Thank you for all your support…

Battle of the Ice Creams…

Well this was a different type of “Ice Cream Wars” afoot at Taywell Ice Creams as we judged what have been dubbed the “Seven Wonders of Taywell”!!!

The flavours we were asked to pass comment upon were as follows

Sorbets :

Blood Orange & Campari

Red Bull & Vodka

Ice Creams :

Liquorice

Coffee & Tia Maria

Strawberry & Mascarpone

Damson & Sloe Gin

Jack Daniels

Well the competition was very close and I can now announce the one with the most 3 stars awarded and gets the “Twuddle” seal of approval was… Strawberry & Mascarpone… in fact next was the Coffee & Tia Maria and also with this the Liquorice. The Liquorice slightly ahead if you take into account the question would you buy it… 18 said yes against 16 for the Coffee one.

The Blood Orange and Campari was voted best sorbet of the night with 10 “3 stars” votes and then 8 “2 stars” and 17 votes to purchase. The least favourite of the tasting was the Red Bull and Vodka with a resounding 15 stating they would not purchase against 7 who would… they were not surprising the younger faction of the tasters.

The comments ranged from “Fruity & Refreshing” to “not too sweet, liked the bitterness of the Campari” for the winning sorbet whilst for the Red Bull & Vodka ranged from “Too sweet”, “Bubble Gum like” and “Ew! Sickly” to “This one is fun” and a “Nice Kick to it”, overall though it was felt not our taste.

With the Ice Creams we had a wide range of comments. Firstly the winning flavour had comments like “Lovely creamy flavour”, “Delicious”, “Everything screams “EAT ME”!” and simply put “Amazing”

The Coffee & Tia Maria raised some debate that whilst it had “Lovely strong coffee flavour”, “Om Nom” (not sure what this meant?) and “Really like it but can’t taste enough Tia Maria” it was felt the addition of some coffee grounds could provide a textural interest to a very creamy ice cream. One person suggested the addition of sponge finger pieces and you would have an amazing Tiramisu Ice cream.

It was however the Liquorice that provided the biggest debate and I believe surprise for Alastair. The comments ranged from “I normally hate liquorice but that is gorgeous, “fantastic idea, delicious” to a fair few stating simply “Love It”. One comment summed it up “made Liquorice bearable” and “don’t like Liquorice normally”

It was for me the most interesting and surprising of the night as it really did bring back some childhood memories of Sherbet Fountains and Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts!!!

The Damson and Sloe Gin was also well received and felt to be amazingly “fruity” and “creamy”. In fact was one person’s outright favourite. We have photographic evidence he licked the plate clean!!!

The Jack Daniels for some strange reason was forgotten off the tasting sheets so perhaps did not get a true appraisal, so my apologies. Overall we gave them all a good test and I am sure we would all be up for a return visit if needed to!!!

So to recap with the “Seven Wonders of Taywell”

Twuddle Seal of Approval Strawberry and Mascarpone

Highly RecommendedLiquorice… and then Coffee & Tia Maria

(Amazingly both similar colours)

Best SorbetBlood Orange & Campari

Cheers

Hari Covert

Marmite Ice Cream… a flavour to far?

(polls)

Taywell’s Special Tasting…

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It was a chilly night as we arrived at Taywell’s Ice Cream HQ on the outskirts of Paddock Wood. However, it was a warm welcome from the owner Alastair Jessell who had kindly agreed to host a special “Twuddle” night to taste some new flavours his company had created to enter into the Great British Taste Awards taking place later in the year.

Well it had been well supported with a full house – two tastings took place at 6:30pm and 7:30pm respectively. Alastair explained to us how the ice cream they make is produced in twenty litre batches with their state of the art “Swiss Made” machines that cost a cool 65 grand each (they have two!) The mix is poured into the top of the machine and it is then heated and pasteurised to the required temperature before dropping through to the chamber that churns and freezes the mix to make the ice cream in just twenty minutes. The machines are that clever that if the consistency is not quite right they can programme the machine to remember what it needs to do the next time and it will automatically do that. As one taster remarked I should think so for 65 grand!!!

The ice creams we were to taste had been duly removed from the freezer about 10 minutes before the tasters had arrived as to scoop it meant it would be easier and tasting plates were in place with labels strategically placed along with a plethora of spoons. The new flavours had a tasting sheet to score and comment upon and there were some extra new flavours and style to try as well. (Some special edition Frozen Yoghurts)

Well we got down to the serious business and started to taste first the sorbets as these have the cleanest flavours and they melt the quickest. Then came the Ice Creams and finally the yoghurts.

There was much mirth and merriment as we jostled down the line, a concern from some that the alcohol laced ices meant they would not be in a fit state to drive – Alastair explained whilst he was generous with the booze it was about 1 bottle of the booze to the 20 litre batch so nothing to be concerned about. One question from a certain taster about food colour additives was rightly met with a swift rebuke from Alastair that Taywells only use natural products and no additives… that told him!

After we had gorged ourselves and made the desired notes on our tasting sheets we were then given the chance to sample a reject that had not made the grade, for simply whilst it tasted good it was no more different than a same flavour using less expensive ingredients and would be less likely to be commercially viable.

A trip round the walk in freezer whilst a we bit chilly was like being in an Aladdin’s cave of Ice Cream with a staggering range of flavours and the chance to purchase what we had tasted at a special rate tempted many to depart with their arms loaded and some free samples of the reject!!!

It was a great night and the results of the tasting will be revealed soon and an outright winner that will be given the “Twuddle” seal of approval announced as soon as we have fully scrutinised the ballot sheets and checked them and even snuck back just to check we hadn’t missed something… all in the interests of fairness I am sure you will understand!

A right Royal Feast… a night to remember?

Well we have been asked back to Yalding Gardens following the success of last years Apple Day Dinner and this time we will be cooking and serving a special dinner to celebrate the Royal wedding of “William & Kate”…. so make a note of the date…

Date: Saturday April 30th 2011

Time: 7:30pm Aperitif and Nibbles

Dinner: Served 8pm

Cost: A suggested minimum donation of £40 per person includes the welcome aperitif

(A small wines and drinks list will be offered on the night at additional reasonable prices)

We will be serving 48 guests on six tables of 8 so there will be a need to share tables unless you book as a party of 8

The menu will be as follows subject as always to market purchases and availability

Pressed Terrine of ” Yalding Gardens” Spring Leeks

served with toasted Kent cob nuts and cobnut oil dressing

****

Risotto of  locally foraged Wild Garlic topped with a “Hastings” Skate Knob

****

Roasted Chump of Kentish Lamb with a light redcurrant jus

Gratin Dauphinoise and Green Beans

****

The award winning “Winterdale Shaw” local Cheddar

 served with a homemade Banana & Date Chutney, Porridge Oat Biscuits

****

Roasted Spring Rhubarb Gratin, Taywell Cinnamon Ice Cream, Duchy Original Shortbread Biscuit

****

Coffee served with Homemade Chocolates

We have tried to provide a royal connection to each course and celebrate with great seasonal and locally sourced products which we hope you will appreciate.

To reserve your places please complete the following form and in the comments box please state “Yalding Gardens”. If there are any special dietary needs please let us know. We will then make contact with you to take a credit card number to confirm your places.

Game on… February 2011

Game On Menu…

Welcome aperitif and nibbles

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Wood Pigeon Breast served “Two ways”

With a Green Bean and Kent Cobnut Salad

and a Chinese Black Bean Sauce

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Butternut Squash Risotto topped with pan-fried Venison Liver

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Supreme of Pheasant with a cider jus bacon and baby onions

Braised Red Cabbage

New Potatoes

≈≈≈≈

Chocolate Cardamom Bread & Butter Pudding

served with a glass of dessert wine

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Coffee & Petit Fours

Phew… that’s our January dinners done and dusted and well it has been a bit of a busy month for us… Firstly we did a special dinner for the winners of the Slave Auction that took place in Tunbridge Wells last July…. The Wilkey household had bid and won dinner for four and on a cold dark January night we fulfilled our obligations and provided a dinner in their home…they chomped their way through four courses. They kicked off with a butternut squash risotto topped with scallop and chorizo and followed it with a roasted Barbary duck breast with a blackberry & red wine jus and then some Winterdale Shaw and Stichleton Cheeses with our porridge oat biscuits. Finally a decadent chocolate torte served with a red berry compote completed the meal.

Quickly following on from this I then spent a day with Robin & Carla Betts at Winterdale Shaw assisting in the production of a batch of cheeses (where some will be used later in the year at a special dinner we are planning… more on that at a later date) A 1000 litres of their morning milk straight from the cows went through the process of cheese making to produce eight 15kg cheeses… it was a labour of love and will post more details on this in the future.

So for this months dinners it was a theme of “Game” and we decided to showcase this with the use of wood pigeon, pheasant and then some rather rare but tasty Venison liver.

To kick the dinners off we served some varied nibbles, a classic black olive tapenade on toasts and some Parmesan Lollipops flavoured with black mustard seeds and caraway seeds. We also served some shot glasses of pea and curry cappuccino that seemed to go down well with a welcome glass of bucks fizz

The first course we served was a pink roasted wood pigeon breast served with a green bean and cobnut salad dressed with Kent cobnut oil and the other half of the breast we served a classic Chinese black bean sauce garnish with some pea shoots.

To follow we then served a creamy roasted butternut squash risotto that was garnished with slivers of pan fried venison liver. The liver having been soaked in milk was still slightly pink and had a great earthy flavour against the sweetness of the risotto. The liver is something of a rarity as normally it is the reserve of the Gamekeeper but my butcher EC Wilkes in Cranbrook came up trumps… it was akin to eating calves liver but slightly more earthy.

So the meat fest progressed to the main course of roasted breast of Pheasant that came garnished with bacon lardons and roasted onions and a delicate crème fraiche and cider sauce. Simply boiled new potatoes were chosen to accompany this as after such a rich meal it was felt something plain was needed and the deep ruby red braised red cabbage was the vegetable garnish.

To round it all off we then served individual warm Chocolate and Cardamom Bread & Butter puddings that had a heavenly scent of chocolate and almost as one guest commented a citrus flavour to it. Some fresh Greek yoghurt was served to cut the richness of the pud.

It was a challenging menu to prepare as so much was “a la minute” cooking and the balance of flavours and richness of the meat meant it was a challenge for diners to eat it all.. still they all seemed to manage and we now move onto our next dinners in February.

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name, covert by nature

Chocolate Fest…

CHOCOLATE FEST… FRIDAY 19TH & SATURDAY 20TH MARCH

Well we had a reasonable turnout for our latest dinner but more are always welcome…

The menu was based on chocolate… with Easter around the corner we felt this food needed showcasing as to its versatility. A menu dedicated to a plant seed that has been cultivated for at least three millennia was challenging, as some dishes were a marriage made in heaven whilst others were more experimental…

We kicked the evening off with a smooth chicken liver parfait… no chocolate here but we moulded this rich and buttery pate into what basically looked like a chocolate truffle… the parfait was rolled in roasted hazelnuts and toasted sesame seeds as you would a chocolate ganache…serving this with a redcurrant sauce to help cut the parfaits richness and some simple melba toast… the culinary heritage of the toast is well documented as it was inspired by chef Auguste Escoffier whilst cooking at the Savoy and named in honour of Dame Nellie Melba an opera singer of the Victorian and early 1900’s. Many classical dishes are so named and a fuller list can be checked outhere

We then moved onto a slightly more experimental dish of a basic risotto that was cooked normally using a vegetable stock made from the cauliflower trimmings. Cauliflower florets were browned in butter to garnish the risotto, a cauliflower puree added to enrich the risotto and also deepen the cauliflower flavour and then just before serving some freshly grated white chocolate over the top. A simple and quite effective dish.

The main course dish was then an amalgamation of another classic French dish known as a Paupiette de Bouef or Beef Olive. A thinly sliced piece of beef topside is then filled with a sausage meat stuffing and on this occasion was then slowly braised in a Mexican inspired Mole (Mo-Lay) Sauce. The richness of this chocolate laden sauce and fiery chilli notes produced a warming and filling dish. It was served alongside Spatzli a southern German / Swiss pasta to soak up the sauce… all served with our signature dish of Green Beans… To check out the way the Spatzli is made check out our blog here

To complete the meal we named the dessert as chocolate overload as here we served three different chocolate desserts.

Firstly a classic dark chocolate mousse made with 70% cocoa solids chocolate, cream and egg whites that when set was spooned onto a sauce made from melted white chocolate, coffee and some sea salt…

Then a decadent chocolate torte I am unashamed to declare was a very easy recipe from chef Phil Vickery’s book called a Passion for Puddings it uses an oft forgotten ingredient Carnation Condensed Milk (the whole book is sponsored by them and I have done a whole series of puddings from it). Garnished with fresh raspberries the raspberry wheat beer from Whitstable Brewery we served with the pudding went well with this torte.

The third chocolate dessert was a dish inspired from my training in Switzerland… a dessert we used to serve in honour of our local neighbour Dr Sprungli of Lindt & Sprungli fame. A freshly poached pear once cold is served atop a ball of vanilla ice cream then placed into a brandy snap basket. The pear is then coated with a chocolate kirsch cream. The chocokirsch made by melting 70% dark chocolate with best Swiss Kirsch and then added to whipped cream. It added a lighter more refreshing touch to go with the other two desserts.

Coffee served with little Easter chocolate eggs, bunnies and chocolate bugs were in most cases taken home…

This was a fun menu and I think it went rather well… now thinking about the April menu as Spring will have well and truly sprung by then… I think I might use as inspiration some of the dishes I had recently at The Sportsman in Seasalter a re-knowned establishment with a Michelin star…

Happy Eating

Hari Covert

Covert by name, covert by nature