Category Archives: Event

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!

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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

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

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Roasted Chump of Kentish Lamb with a light redcurrant jus

Gratin Dauphinoise and Green Beans

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The award winning “Winterdale Shaw” local Cheddar

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

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

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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

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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

Our First Dinner… 2010

First Dinner of 2010… 5th and 6th February 2010

Well we have had our first dinner of “twenty ten” and we thought it appropriate to post a bit about this last weekends goings on.

The menu was themed around what’s currently in season and what would balance well to make some interesting food combinations.

We kicked things off with a hot starter… this was ambitious and worked OK… but ever critical of my culinary prowess it could have been better.

The idea was to make a vegetable Subric out of fresh beetroot that would then be garnished by freshly poached mussels and some de stoned fresh lychees that were then all sauced by a light curry broth made from the mussels cooking liquor.

In principle it all sounded great but on the night the Subric whilst it had an amazing colour and flavour was a bitch to turn out of their moulds and some duly collapsed… it provided a slight panic moment however, the punters liked it and one even admitted they “hated beetroot and had not eaten it for twenty years” but loved this dish and the plates all came back clean.

We then continued the seasonal theme and chose to serve a breast of Guinea Fowl.

This is a very under rated fowl that has a mild game taste and is served either roasted or pot-roasted. Having removed the breasts from the carcass I then stuffed them with a forcemeat of game with the addition of some dried porcini and a good slug of Jack Daniels.

Wrapping them firstly in cling film and then silver foil I dry roasted them initially for about ten minutes before colouring them off in a bit of butter for a couple more minutes.

These breasts were succulent and moist (no comments please) and served with a shallot tart tatin that provided a sweet accompaniment to the slight game flavour. A red wine jus made from the carcasses of the guinea fowl just bought it all together. Along with this we served our ubiquitous signature dish of Haricot Verts… and a classic Gratin Dauphinoise… that all got polished off.

There were yet again some lovely clean plates that seemed to tell me something and comments ranged from “never had this before and loved it” to it bought back some “great memories”. It was certainly a pleasure to cook and has rekindled a whole feast of other ideas.

Next on the menu was for many the “King” of cheeses, a Vacherin Mont D’Or This had proved a little tricky to source locally to me in Kent so meant a trip to London was required.

A cheese emporium in the concourse of Victoria train station was the eventual supplier that at a somewhat inflated price supplied me with a cheese that was perfect for eating, runny and unctuous it spooned out perfectly. It was a good 40% more expensive than a supplier in France.

Well worth it in the end as the season for this cheese made with the winter milk (unpasteurised) of cows draws to an end.

With the cheese I had made some of my current favourite cheese biscuits. These were made from a batch of milky porridge that with addition of rock salt and crushed Szechwan peppercorns. The porridge is than poured out onto a silicon paper and worked to a thin covering. Left to dry out slightly I then baked them in an oven at 150 degree C to dry out totally and brown slightly. After this they can then be broken up randomly and made the perfect foil to the runny cheese.

To finish off the meal we then served the diners with a homemade lemon tart a classic that was glazed with sugar to hide some deep crevasses that appeared on the tart after its cooling!!!

A generous dollop of mascarpone and then some tart raspberry coulis made the final garnish.

With the coffee we served a little pot of homemade peanut butter fudge recipe courtesy for Waitrose Magazine and a Sophie Dahl recipe that was dead easy to make.

The guests departed promising to come back with more friends and one couple of ladies promised to bring their husbands next time. All in all it was another success and we now look forward to our next date.

We aim to provide good well-cooked food that is imaginative not necessarily ground breaking but at least when we can showcase some great ingredients and good seasonal produce.

Once again we were also rather pleased with the atmosphere we had managed to create and the dining area looked great, candlelit and bedecked with simple floral displays… it was hard work but worthwhile and we were on a high when we had wound down.

Now we have our next date looming as a “Valentines” night and have planned to do an “in the pink” theme… having recently attended another underground restaurant with the Saltoun Supper Club in Brixton we were impressed by a pasta dish of Potato Gnocchi served with blanched cauliflower and infused with white truffle oil and topped with freshly grated Pecorino cheese… it had inspired me to make use of the “white” vegetable head in a slightly different way so plan to make a cauliflower terrine – it’s a dish I once produced for a dinner in depths of Hampshire at a private dinner for some minor royalty… but more on that later…

Hari Covert