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)

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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

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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.

Achieve More @yourhome…

We have now just completed yet another @yourhome dinner and we must say we think it went well rather well…

It’s always a challenge to cook in someone else’s home as there is the vagaries of a strange cooker and different surroundings… but as ever Hari loves a challenge and this was an ask that we could not refuse. So the party was a birthday celebration for a super fit (ask her about her press-ups challenge!) and climbing enthusiast Ruth Malone. I had cooked a couple of times for her sister Hannah and they are both “Twuddlers” who have been very supportive of my little enterprise.

Well, after having spent a week at our home in France I returned laden with some special goodies for their chosen menu…Ruth had left the menu choices pretty much carte blanche to me with the only proviso they had fairly conservative tastes so nothing too off the wall!!!

Well we kicked off the evening in her home with some canapés that are very much my favourites of the moment. I had made some Parmesan Lollipops that with the addition of some caraway seeds made a good visual impact, some mini toasts topped with black olive tapenade provided a nice salty Mediterranean memory and finally shot glasses with a warm pea & curry soup.

One of the guests (Alex) had previously joked he was expecting a KFC meal from Ruth… so we duly obliged him by serving the lollipops in a KFC meal bag… the lengths I had to go to purloin a bag was fun… and another story!!!

We then served the first course a light delicate salmon quenelle mousse that had been poached and served with a warm vinaigrette sauce made with extra virgin olive oil and more unusually a light Cameroon Mango vinegar. The addition of some finely chopped peppers and diced mango and chopped chives provided a stunning visual impact to the salsa, this was well received as plates came back licked clean.

Next we served a dish that had been well received at our last dinners a chicken breast roulade that was stuffed with spinach, toasted pine nuts and feta cheese. We then poached the breasts in a light stock and served the roulade with sherry sauce infused with sun-dried tomatoes. We served this with a creamy gratin dauphinoise and some green beans wrapped in pancetta

So as the meal progressed we had got to grips with the kitchen and we served our next course a selection of specially selected and imported cheeses from our local fromagerie (Chez Juliette Gauby) in France… having just returned on the Wednesday it meant we could import some more unusual and locally difficult to obtain cheeses.

We had managed to find a wonderfully ripe Vacherin Mont D’or for me a king of cheeses… this unpasteurised milk cheese is a winter speciality that has a wonderful unctuous flavour best served with a spoon!!! We then also served a cheese made by the cheese shop owner called a “Bleu de rancio”… the blue is a Bleu d’Auvergne and then raisins marinated in a local rancio sherry like wine that is mixed with a cream cheese and layered – it has inspired me to have a go to copy with Hari’s Buttons as served at some of our previous dinners but the real McCoy was very well received.

We had a fresh goats cheese from the Sancerre region creamy and with a light acidic tang and for our hard cheese we had a classic Tomme from the Pyrenees that had been made from the mixed milk of cows, sheep’s and goat and well matured to produce a really strong flavoured cheese. All served with our classic porridge oat biscuits seasoned with sea salt and Szechwan peppercorns.

To complete the meal we then served a dish of grilled slices of fresh pineapple that was then marinated in a syrup of honey and cardamom that with the addition of some ruby red grapefruit segments, blood orange segments and candid peel provided a sweet and citric balance of flavours…With this we served a scoop of coconut ice cream.

Ruth had warned me she was somewhat lacking in the plate department…so we also used our own plates, which have a bit of history… in fact one of my best buys… Robert Niederer designed Hergiswil glass plates from Switzerland. I bought them some fifteen years ago direct from the factory and they are only ever used for special occasions… we felt Ruth’s birthday celebration was such a worthy occasion!

Ruth’s partner Nathan had arranged a celebratory cake that arrived with the men folk singing “Happy Birthday” to her…

It was a very scrummy and moist Carrot Cake topped with four vegetable garnishes… a picture to behold and I presented some homemade chocolate ganache and some Spanish chocolate & almond Turron.

As I left the party with them finishing off the copious wine and leftover cake!!! As I cleared away our debris I managed to reflect upon the evening… It’s always a pleasure to cook and serve a meal to an appreciative audience and we think this one had loved their very exclusive event… so if you find it difficult to make a dinner date chez Hari then why not consider booking Hari for your own exclusive @yourhome event!

Cheers

Hari

Know your onions…?

Well we have just got back from a short break at our home in France and we had some stunning weather and some good food as well.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how both the French and Spanish (our nearby neighbours) love a festival centred round food. Our own village has an Apricot festival in early July that sees eating competitions to a plethora of apricot related products for sale.

We found ourselves across the border in nearby Spain last Sunday and managed to seek out one of many festivals in this region dedicated to the homage paid to a very seasonal ingredient. It was the humble spring onion known locally as the calçot – the village of Vila – Sacra located between Figeuras and Roses was awash with people enjoying not only the sunshine but some great local produce… everything from assorted stalls selling local preserved meat sausages to local cheeses and even a stunning stall with an abundance of salted fish and even a stall with a mobile bread oven baking wood fired oven bread to order… talk about passionate with food.

It was however the stalls selling newspaper wrapped grilled calçots (5) that came with a little pot of romesco sauce, slice of bread and a either a bottle of water or glass of local red wine for the paltry sum of 4 euros that attracted a steady stream of people… the brightly coloured paper bibs also provided some extra colour to the event and the wonderful sweet tasting onions with their smoky flavour was a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

It was fascinating to see the event was so well attended with all ages and it seemed to be a real community event. I think it is something we could with a bit more of here in the UK. Perhaps I should launch a festival in honour of the green bean… now there’s an idea!

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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

And the winner is…?

 

 

Well now, we are pleased to announce there is an upcoming event that is designed to tickle and chill your palate.

The owner of Taywell Ice Creams – Alastair Jessel based at Paddock Wood is opening his doors for a very special taste off.

Taywell Ices are creating some new flavours to enter in the 2011 Great Taste Awards. This is your chance to pass judgement & give your opinion at an organised taste off. You will also have a tour of their production facility and learn more about the making of bespoke ice creams.

The date is Wednesday March 2nd  and spaces are limited to the two time slots of 6:30pm and 7:30pm and your places can only be reserved via the Twuddle/Twuttle web site… please book your spaces here and make sure you state which time you require.

food for lovers & lovers of food…feb 2011

Well that is our February dinners done and dusted… the theme as we were close to Valentines was loosely followed and we found we had a full house on both nights and I am glad to say the challenge of a last minute cancellation was also filled quickly… The cancellation was the first one we have ever had to deal with that close to a dinner and we had already purchased food and started our prep so this meant we had to use all our means of contact to fill the space.

This web site is self built using a template on WordPress and I am by no means an expert and it is all self taught but I have recently discovered how to place a form on the site so am now trying to use these to gather information from our followers and punters… For example if you want to be made aware of a last minute cancellation why not fill out this form below and we will create a specific mail list to let you know.

I have also recently transferred my email list of addresses to an internet mail service called mail chimp… this enables me in one click to send an email that is specific to a special list and also see statistics who might have opened the email and gauge also what formats work best… again something to play with in the future and a lot less time consuming in keeping you all up to date.

The format of this site will also change slightly and I will start using the blog aspect more as it is a much quicker and an easier way of reporting what is happening and updating you all of some exciting developments that will be happening over the next few months. The pages will be more informative of what we do but effectively our home page will be the news and musings of yours truly…

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Warm Roasted Aubergine, Red Pepper & Cumin Terrine

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Chicken Breast Roulade stuffed with Spinach, Pine Nut & Feta Cheese

served with a light sherry jus.

Pommes Lyonnaise

Green Beans wrapped in pancetta

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Roasted Rhubarb Tart with Walnut Ice Cream

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Coffee with petit fours 

 

So back to this months dinner… well we kicked off the dinners with some assorted nibbles that we think went well… the Friday night guests were served some Parmesan Lollipops that are just grated parmesan thinly spread on baking parchment and with the addition of some caraway seeds then baked. Once lightly golden and removed from the parchment and cooled they crisp up nicely and look impressive on the tables…The Saturday night guests were due the same but somehow I managed to mix my cheeses and added cheddar to the mix and when I started to bake them they went all greasy and horrible!!! So a minor alteration was made and the use of some butter puff pastry turned my cheese mix into some baked cheese Palmiers… We also on both nights served a little shot glass of mushroom cappuccino, simply a homemade mushroom soup topped with a milky foam… it seemed to be well received and will see what else we can dream up for these shot glasses in the future…

So our first course was a fairly ambitious one… a warm terrine of Aubergine that is set in a red pepper egg custard flavoured with cumin. I have to admit this was not all my own idea but one gleaned from a chef demo I had seen many years ago at a cookery demo in the Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School, London. It was Moroccan inspired as this accomplished chef had spent some time cooking at the La Gazelle D’Or in Taroudant and the marriage of aubergine, red peppers and cumin is a classic north African one. It was not till I researched a bit about the Cumin a spice that I realised it had some great “lovers” connections as well. It is the second most common spice used throughout the world and this terrine for me was a challenging one to serve warm to bring out the cumin flavour. It was a long process as the aubergine required a little salting initially (having been sliced length ways) then grilling and then when cold layered in the terrine moulds with the egg custard mix added. The cumin initially dry roasted and pounded in the pestle and mortar was added to the custard mix and when baked slowly emanated a truly wonderful aroma. The terrine was then sliced last minute and reheated in the oven to warm it up and help bring out the flavours. A simple salad garnish made this a great starter that was also very vegetarian friendly as well.

Next came our main course… the roulade of chicken, here we beat out a chicken supreme (the skinless breast) thinly and then before rolling it up tightly we placed some sautéed spinach, crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts as the filling.

The roulade rolled in cling film meant the best cooking method was to then gently poach them in chicken stock so ensure the meat remained succulent. A light jus with the addition of sherry and chopped sun-dried tomatoes proved an extra dimension and the clean plates that all came back seemed to be an approval of our efforts!

Next our ubiquitous cheese course was made up of a selection… we had marinated some fresh goats cheeses in an olive oil mix of dried chilli, chopped chives and basil for a couple of days, then a small wedge of Gorgonzola was the blue addition and a soft French Pié d’Angloys. We then also included as the hard cheese our local Winterdale Shaw but this time the standard one and a sliver of their smoked version, this is the matured cheese that is then halved and taken off to the Weald Smokery and smoked naturally over oak wood chips. One guest remarked how it took him right back to an earlier food memory so it certainly did its job!!!

Finally the dessert we served was a warm Rhubarb Tart that was served with some walnut ice cream. The pink rhubarb sliced and being placed raw on the puff pastry bases was then baked with addition of sugar and cinnamon.

Finally it was coffee served with an assortment of chocolates including some rather good Spanish Turron, it was a nightmare to cut but the broken bits that kept falling off found a good home!

The atmosphere of both nights was great and first night seemed incredibly loud with a constant background chatter, then the second night guests were treated to a firework display by one of neighbours so an added bonus… at no extra cost as well!!!

So that rounded up the dinners and we now start planning our next one…it will be a fish theme and will I am sure will be over subscribed once again…menu coming soon so watch this space…

Cheers

Hari

Twuddle Personality of the Year 2010…

Well it was with some trepidation I arrived at the award ceremony held at Sankeys Wine Bar and Restaurant… There had been enormous twitter banter before the award ceremony and much canvassing of votes.

Well to say I was amazed to be awarded this honour was an understatement and was much appreciated to feel the warmth and good wishes within the room…

I hope I live up to the reputation bestowed upon me…

Hari

Kent's first Underground/Secret Restaurant…