Tag Archives: Kent

Mardens Ruin…

When I heard that drink “Mothers Ruin” or Gin was now being made in Marden I had to find out more…It was some two years ago that scientists Andy & Norman started their fabrication of Gin. (Some might have then said this was the downhill slide for Marden!)   Anno Distillers are the first distillers of this much loved drink in the county of Kent for over 200 years.

Well it was a friend who reminded me of them and so I set about introducing myself and I can now report we are excited to say our October dinner event will be hosted by Andy and Norman at their Marden based distillery.

It is not a glamorous location on an industrial estate beside the Ashford to London rail line but what lies behind the steel shutters is a real Aladdin’s cave. The ex scientists have built their own still and after much testing and tinkering they launched their craft gin made with local botanicals and a few added ingredients one would not expect. Namely foraged samphire and local hops to give their gin its unique taste and style. Added to this they also make a Sloe Gin and a very drinkable flowery Elderflower & Vodka.

What could be more fitting than a dinner using all three of their labours in the dishes we create. So after some sampling and thought I have decided to attempt to cook and serve on site the following menu. No mean feat as they have no kitchen and so we have had to be clever in the way the menu has been constructed!

The dinner will be housed within the distillery on the first floor overlooking the very sexy looking copper and polished metal still – a single table in amongst boxes of gin and other packaging awaiting to be filled will be the back drop. Andy and Norman will be in attendance to guide guests through their story and how their gin is made. It will be a fascinating evening and one that will be very popular I am sure.

We are asking guests to arrive for 7:15pm so they can firstly sample a welcoming G&T along with some seasonal and possibly gin inspired nibbles. Norman or Andy (or both) will provide a guided tour of the process before guests will then sit down for the dinner.

We will kick off with a dish using their sloe gin – I have asked a friend to import from Switzerland (he is coming over for the September “Fowl Feast”) some Dörrbohnen (dried green beans – A Hari Covert Meal would be bereft without some green beans!) These beans are braised and will with the addition of some fresh blanched ones form the base of a salad with the addition of some pan fried wood pigeon breasts. Garnished with some local Toasted Cob Nuts All this will be dressed with the Anno Sloe Gin based vinaigrette… I am drooling just typing this…

We will then follow this with the main course – I had agonised what to do but because of the limited cooking facilities I have opted for a Pork Fillet with an Anno Gin, Juniper and Blueberry Sauce – we will be cooking the pork fillet wrapped in thin sliced cured ham in a large Paella pan – we plan to serve these with a Pommes Boulangere… we will poach thinly sliced potatoes and onions in a chicken stock that will then be crisped on the top using a blow torch.. we have to be resourceful when there is no oven! Finely shredded cabbage will be simply steamed with some butter and served as the vegetable.

Following the main we will serve dessert – a break from our normal format of cheese before pudding. We are using the Anno Elderflower & Vodka for a Jelly infused with local fresh raspberries and then some homemade shortbread biscuits will accompany this.

Finally the cheese will be the local Winterdale Shaw served simply with our Porridge Oat Biscuits and a dollop of our homemade banana Jam and a snifter of Sloe Gin to wash it all down… we think it will be the best way to complete the evening.

Coffee and some Gin and Lemon Fudge will be the final offering.

Menu

Welcome G&T with seasonal nibbles

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Dörrbohnen & Green Bean Salad with Toasted Cob Nuts and Pan Fried Wood Pigeon with Anno Sloe Gin vinaigrette.

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Cured Ham wrapped Pork Fillet with Gin, Juniper & Blueberry Sauce, Pommes Boulangere & Steamed Cabbage

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Elderflower Vodka & Raspberry Jelly with Homemade Shortbread Biscuits

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Winterdale Shaw,Banana Jam & Porridge Oat Biscuits with Sloe Gin Snifter

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Coffee with Gin & Lemon Fudge

Menu Subject to Ingredient Availability & Market Purchases

Arrival:  7:15pm

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation : £45.00 per person (service not included)

If you wish to be part of this very unique event then please book quickly as we are limited to just twelve spaces each night. Just complete the booking form below and we will contact you within 24 to 48 hours to confirm the booking.

Cultural differences…

Well I have been watching the BBC 2 series about Chinese School “Are our are kids tough enough” – despite it’s infuriating editing making it seem a disastrous experience it does illustrate very well the differences between ours and their cultures.

This was also brought home to me following a recent visit of a young 15 year old Singaporean lad who spent two weeks staying with my family for some culinary mentoring.

His very polite and respectful nature for such tender years was refreshing – his eagerness to learn was also commendable – unlike some of the 15 year olds on the TV programme.

It was however the visit we made together to France for an eating and shopping fest that also illustrated to me how different our cultures are with just twenty plus mile of water between us!

We paid visits to some French hypermarkets… he was in awe of the 50 plus checkouts/tills and the range of produce on sale. We then paid a visit to a weekly market in the village of Etaples where the range of fresh seasonal produce was breathtaking. Fresh peaches apricots and nectarines were cheap and great quality alongside an amazing array of fresh tomatoes.

Stalls selling just cheese, fresh fish or one selling a freshly made Paella or another a spit roasted chicken all seemed quite exotic. We had also visited earlier in the week the farmers market in Tonbridge and whilst the produce on show was good the price differentials were eye watering. It seems that twenty plus miles of water has a great deal to answer for.

John Dory with a ginger beurre blanc sauce
John Dory with a ginger beurre blanc sauce

We also paid a visit to the local fish market after having had a wonderful fish based lunch at Perard in nearby Le Touquet – a hugely popular  and busy restaurant that seemed ever popular (it had been many years since my last visit) their infamous fish soup still as good as ever! The range of fish on offer at the Etaples fish market was stunning and so fresh looking – we succumbed to a purchase of three large John Dory at an eye watering forty plus euros. Worth every penny when we the next day filleted them and cooked them for supper.

It all illustrated very well how different our cultures are and respecting this is key to ensuring we appreciate what is on offer. It never ceases to amaze me how we expect to be able to eat an out of season strawberry at Christmas or an asparagus spear imported from thousands of miles away instead of only consuming when in season and more locally sourced.

We should all embrace cultural differences and what they can contribute to our daily lives and not treat them with suspicion or fear…

Rant over…

Fowl Feast…our September menu

Well it has been a very hectic Summer for us… apologies for my tardiness in posting and getting our menus up to date. Will reveal a little more on what has been going on in a separate post.

So for our September menu on Friday 25th & Saturday 26th September we will be offering what we term a fowl feast… to kick the dinner off we will serve a smooth unctuous Chicken Liver Parfait that will have a homemade Onion Chutney with it. A classic combination. For the main course we will then serve a crispy Duck Leg Confit that will have a selection of roasted root vegetables and a tart redcurrant sauce with it – it is a rich dish to remind us that the Autumn chill is just around the corner!

We will then serve a selection of cheeses with our homemade porridge oat biscuits and Banana Jam

To complete the feast we plan to serve a glazed lemon curd tartlette with a compote of fresh blackberries and a dollop of clotted cream – fresh French pressed coffee as they say across the pond with some homemade peanut butter butter fudge should round it all off

If you wish to reserve your spaces then please just complete the booking form below and we will normally contact you within 24/48 hours to confirm your reservation with a credit card number

Arrival Time: 7:30pm – Welcome drink & Seasonal Nibbles

Dinner Served: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £35 per person (Service not included)

Menu

Smooth Chicken Liver Parfait served with

Homemade Onion Relish

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Crispy Confit Duck Leg with Roasted Root Vegetables and a Redcurrant Sauce

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Hari’s Assorted Cheese Selection with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Glazed Lemon Curd Tartlette with a

Blackberry Compote & Clotted Cream

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Coffee & Fudge

Independence Day… Happy 4th July

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Well I cannot believe it has been two years since we last attempted a totally alfresco dinner… we will endeavour to  do so again this year (weather permitting) and what better day than to make a night of it on Saturday July 4th when we will serve up an American themed dinner in our garden terrace setting.

We will welcome guests with a drink and some simple nibbles (monkey nuts and freshly popped corn very likely!)

We will then serve up a couple of platters for dinners of loaded nachos and some spicy deep fried chicken pop corn that will be shared out on each table.

For the main courses we will then serve up either a Texan spiced pulled pork burger bun or freshly grilled Salmon Fillet bun with a dill sauce all served up with freshly dressed slaw and French Fries. The choice is yours…

To complete what we hope will be a fun night we will then serve you either a chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream and pecans or a Strawberry Shortcake with Strawberry Sauce. Simple fare that we hope will get the party started.

Finally we will then serve what across the pond they call French pressed coffee with home-made peanut butter fudge.

Arrival: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner 8:00pm Prompt

Suggested Donation: £30.00 per person (Service not included)

 Menu 

Loaded Vegetarian Nachos

Popcorn Chicken with Hot Salsa

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Texan Pulled Pork Burger, Slaw & String Fries

or

Grilled Salmon Sandwich with Dill Sauce, Slaw & String Fries

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Home-made Strawberry Shortcake with Strawberry Sauce

or

Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream

& Toasted Pecans

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Coffee & Peanut Butter Fudge

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

Please complete the Booking Form and we will confirm your spaces normally within 48 Hours

Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy….

Dance ti’ thy daddy, sing ti’ thy mammy,
Dance ti’ thy daddy, ti’ thy mammy sing;
Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a fishy when the boat comes in.

– From “When the Boat comes in”

Well, we are an island race and surrounded by water and this month’s menu will reflect the abundance of fish and shellfish that we have on offer.

I have also decided to use various cooking methods as well as culinary influences in the menu. The starter is  the new classic of South American origin – a Ceviche – citrus marinated raw fish. I will use salmon matched with avocado all served like a cocktail in a glass with crispy tortilla chips – a light fresh starter.

Next up will be the classic of a seared scallop that will be served with a lush green pea puree with its natural sweetness, salty crispy bacon and then a mint oil will add other flavour dimensions.

For the main course I will use a “Biblical” fish, John Dory. It is jd2reputed to be the fish St Peter plucked to feed the 5000 with its distinctive black thumb print on its side. A relative of the Haddock and is a fish that only yields 40% of  edible flesh – 60% is bone wastage!

jdI am using the fillets with a delicate beurre blanc sauce infused with spicy flavour of ginger and delicate flavour of onion with freshly chopped chives. Simply garnished with green beans and baby new potatoes… it will be all about the fishy!

Finally we will serve our ever favourite fresh strawberry parfait an “iced strawberry cream” served with a strawberry sauce and some fresh baked shortbread biscuits perfumed with cracked black pepper, perfect with the strawberries that are in full seasonal flush!

It will be a true feast and the boat will have truly come in!

Friday 12th & Saturday 13th June 2015

Menu 

Salmon & Avocado Ceviche with Tortilla Chips

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Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Crispy Bacon & Mint Oil

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Roasted Fillet of John Dory with Ginger Cream Sauce, Green Beans Baby New Potatoes

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Kentish Iced Strawberry Parfait with Black Pepper Shortbread

Glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes

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Coffee & Petit Fours

Menu subject to Market Purchases and Ingredient Availability

Welcome Drink on arrival. Glasses, Ice Buckets & Water provided

Suggest Donation: £40 per person

Arrival: 7:30pm

Dinner: 8:00pm

To book please complete the “Booking Form” – We will confirm your places within 48 Hours

Over Sexed, Overpaid and Over Here…

Well I certainly cannot vouch for the first two of this infamous statement –  but the third one is pretty accurate when it comes to describing Jeff Kipp the chef patron of a cute little eaterie in Saltwood Green near Hythe. The Saltwood is his baby.

Jeff hails from the “Windy City” across the pond and spent time working with Charlie Trotter a much respected and alas now departed cook. He arrived in Saltwood Green having worked in some pucker establishments in London town and London’s loss is now this sleepy village’s gain on the outskirts of Hythe.

I came across Jeff slightly by accident having been introduced by a chef acquaintance and a few weeks ago I met him when I was helping Jules Serkin on her weekly radio show called Scoff Quaff that is broadcast from just down the road towards Dymchurch! It was a lively programme… you can listen again here

Why I waited so long for an excuse I do not know but I found myself there for a luncheon with my good lady and an old friend (he is definitely older than me – he he sorry Mario!)  We had drooled over the menu on line and were looking forward to sampling the small but well balanced menu. Lunch is a simpler affair whilst dinner has a little bit more involved and complex dishes.

We settled into our luncheon with a celebratory welcome drink – a chilled glass of Prosecco that also contained some Kentish hop syrup – it went down rather well and certainly got the party started!

To get us going we chose a couple of their homemade breads – a soft American style pretzel served with a little ramekin of rarebit and then a Corn Bread with a dollop of tomato relish and goats curd… both were very good.

Having perused the menu my wife decided to go for one of the little plates for her main course… namely a smoked fish cake. Me and my considerably older friend decided to share a plate of Jeff’s Home-made gnocchi flavoured with wild garlic that was on the menu… I had taken Jeff a big bag of freshly foraged wild garlic and a large bunch of wild garlic flowers. These then duly appeared on the resultant starter and very pretty they looked too!

The little pillows of gnocchi had also been lightly fried to give them a slightly crunchy texture… it was an accomplished dish.

Mario chose as his main course a pan seared fillet of sea trout with petit pois, pea shoots, samphire and Jersey royals with a punchy tartare sauce… spring time personified on the plate with beautiful succulent sea trout perfectly cooked.  I went for roasted shoulder of Romney Marsh lamb served with a romesco (red pepper, almond and olive oil) infused mashed potato plus grilled Mediterranean vegetables and a Salsa Verde/Gremolata sauce. The meat was lovely, cooked slightly pink it had a lovely sweet flavour that married well with the earthy mash and the vibrant herby green sauce. Overall another well accomplished dish.

We then decided to partake in a few of the puddings on offer… Mario went savoury with what was described as Stilton crumble with apple & rhubarb… it was a de-constructed affair of apple slices, rhubarb with apple foam little pieces of crumbled Stilton of great provenance and taste… garnished with assorted young shoots it looked a pretty picture on the plate.

My better half chose the home-made Cheesecake with orange and cardamom – it had good oaty biscuit base topped with a vanilla cheesecake glazed with an orange jelly. It was however my dessert that garnered the most compliments. A chocolate tart with a malted milk ice cream and a malted caramel. This was pure luxury and the simple de-constructed presentation made it even more enjoyable (the pastry biscuit base was perfectly buttery and crisp)

Well Jeff has won us over and we are now planning a return visit (hopefully a dinner) it was worthy of the seventy mile plus round trip for us and a perfect way to complete my birthday celebrations.

I do hope Jeff remains over here and well the first two statements in the title will not be an issue either.(Just kidding Jeff)

Go and try it, it’s well worth it!

Saltwood on the Green, The Green, Saltwood, Hythe, Kent CT21 4PS

A wild one…

Wild Garlic FlowersWhere is this year going… cannot believe we are already nearly a third of the year through it…

For me the end of winter is signalled by the arrival of a wild food in the form of Wild Garlic or as known by it’s “English” name Ransom. The broad green leaves that poke their heads up in wooded areas from about mid march onwards remind me that warmer weather is hopefully around the corner and we should also start seeing more abundant seasonal produce in our baskets.

Posset's on Parade!!!This months dinners will feature the foraged herb in the starter and main course (to a lesser extent) and then a true spring fruit fresh rhubarb married to a tart lemon posset!

To book this event then please complete the booking form below and we will contact you normally with 48 hours to confirm your places.

Arrival: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £40 per person

Service not included

Assorted Seasonal Canapés with a welcome drink

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Wild Garlic, Pea & Prawn Risotto

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Herb Crusted Roasted Rump of Lamb

with minted crushed Jersey Royals

Haricot Vert & Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

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Hari’s selection of assorted Cheeses

with Porridge Oat Biscuits & Banana Jam

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Lemon & Rhubarb Posset served with a warm home-made shortbread

Served with a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes 

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Coffee & Petits Fours

Menu Subject to Ingredient Availability and Market Purchases

From Nose to Tail…a veritable collection of local charcuterie…

It was a bitterly cold Thursday morning when I swept into Shipbourne Farmers market near Tonbridge to collect some ingredients for a home brew from Moodley’s Beer and Wine Kits. At the entrance was a table laden with some rather good looking Salami and cured meats plus a plethora of smoked fish… It was a bit of a shock to then discovered they had all been produced in Kent and were the brain child of former Chef Paolo Rigoli and his partner Dalton Hopper. These were the real deal and Paolo willingly kept slicing a piece from each to let me sample… charcuterie overload or what….

I purchased some to take home and try and duly demolished in double quick time and then ordered some more to use at my pop up dinners in February when we did a small board of charcuterie to start off our Fondue parties. Their Tuscan salami was an amazing product – made with red wine, fennel seeds and some bigger pieces of fat the resulting salami is a real gem. I duly purchased whole lot more in readiness for my March Beer dinners as well. Including their small snacking salami aptly called a beer stick that is designed to go with a glass of beer!

Then recently I arranged to go over and see their production set up… It was an eye-opener and good to see how two passionate young lads have for a fairly modest sum set up a true artisan business. They have assorted Porta-Kabins that are the production kitchens and then an old refrigerated unit that has been adapted to be their curing chamber.

Then another area for smoking of the fish. In just over six months of production this set up is already not able meet sufficiently the demand they have created from the selling via the Farmers Markets they go to along with a growing wholesale demand as well. Plans to put in another curing chamber will mean they can then increase production of the larger joints they wish to cure and store such as the Parma Ham style legs, Coppa and Lomo joints. The legs taking up to eighteen months to reach their optimum maturity. The smaller salamis and sausage style meats taking less time means they would have greater capacity to meet the demands.

For Paolo it has been a steep learning curve as he gets to grip with the legislation and demands of running a new business. Dalton still works full time in his front of house role at a nearby restaurant so supports where and when he can. It truly is good to see such passion and dedication to produce what is a very fine product and I urge you to seek out their products at one of the Farmers markets they attend namely Shipbourne, Aylesford, Elm Court and Tonbridge and then also Horniman Market in south London.

Take a look at their web site for more details on the range of products http://www.kentcateringltd.co.uk/

March onwards…

We love a good glass of beer and we thought what could be a great theme for our March dinner event would be to pair up once again with Yudhistra Moodley of Moodley’s Craft Beer & Wine Making (we last hosted a dinner with Moodleyshim in January 2012) and this time are offering something a bit different. We have always loved using his beer especially in our beer bread.

Yudhistra only brews his beers to  order now commercially but he is however now selling “The Simple Beer Kit” mostly through Farm Shops  and local farmers’ markets including Tunbridge Wells Town Hall, Tonbridge, Aylesford, Hildenborough, Lamberhurst, Shipbourne Horsmonden , West Malling & Robertsbridge and then his web site on the Internet. All so you can brew your own high quality home brew using brewing quality ingredients. You can follow him on twitter @moodleyslimited or on Facebook at Moodley’s Limited

We have teamed up with him for our dinners on Friday 13th & Saturday 14th March when we will be serving a simple beer themed supper to our guests. We will also for each pair of guests be providing a simple beer kit for you to take home and try brewing yourself. Yudhistra will also be on hand each night to answer any brewing questions you may have on how to make a successful brew.

musselsFollowing a welcome drink and beer themed nibble we will kick the evening off with a bowl of freshly cooked fresh mussels cooked in a home brew and served with our now somewhat infamous beer bread.

We will then go onto the main course dish a classic pork shoulder stew braised in beer with carrots and onions. We will serve this with a herby bulgur wheat and some purple sprouting broccoli – a good warming bit of comfort food

Decadent Chocolate TorteFinally we will then serve a classic chocolate cake made with a dark beer that will be served with a compote of blood oranges and some mascarpone cream.

Then with coffee and we will serve some petit fours.

We think it will be a fun night with the added benefit of a take home beer kit with full instructions on how to make your own home brew, what could be better?

Arrival: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm

Suggested Donation: £40 per person including for each pair a Moodleys Simple Beer Kit (retails at £30)

Service not included

Menu

Poached Fresh Mussels in Beer with Hari’s Beer Bread

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Beer Braised Pork with Carrots & Onion

Herbed Bulgur Wheat

Purple Sprouting  Broccoli

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Chocolate & Porter Cake, Blood Oranges & Mascarpone

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Coffee & Petit Fours

To reserve your places please complete the booking form below and we will contact you normally within 24 to 48 hours to confirm  your places with a credit card number.

Fondue Party… our February dinners

fondueGreuzi!

Well we thought we would set the year off with a bit of a party and what better way to kick start the year than with a “Swiss Cheese Fondue Party”!

We will be in central Tunbridge Wells at 8 Chapel Place (a vacant retail outlet) between the High Street & The Pantiles that we will take over for two nights (6th & 7th February) and be serving up a classic fondue menu.

It will be a little early for Swiss Faschnacht (Carnival/Mardi Gras) but what the hell let’s really get the party started with some good food and convivial conversation.

There will be three tables of six (so sharing is compulsory unless a whole table is booked) and we will welcome guests with some nibbles and glass of something!

The meal will kick of with a selection of assorted Charcuterie served with some rye bread (Veggie option available – please pre-order in the “any other info” section of the form below) and then we will serve each table with a classic Swiss Cheese Fondue. Melted Swiss cheese and wine is then served bubbling on a heater and you all dive in with your bread. We will have the addition of some wild mushrooms as well to add to the fondue if so desired!

Finally the meal will be completed with a platter of fresh fruit and fruit sorbet (Taywells) that we will serve with a small glass of schnapps.

We will then serve up coffee and some petit fours to round the evening off.

If you want to come in your best carnival outfit then feel free, (not compulsory though) we plan to have some Guggenmusik playing in the background ! The menu includes a welcome drink on arrival but you will need to bring your own drinks to have with the meal. (Water and Ice Buckets provided) Please note Red Wine with hot cheese is not a good idea as it tends to clot the cheese in your stomach.

So why not join us for a fun couple of nights re-live those nights on the ski slopes and let’s party!

Place: 8 Chapel Place, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1YQ

Time: 7:30pm Welcome Drink and Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm prompt

Suggested donation £35.00 per person (service not included)

Menu

Assorted Charcuterie served with pickles and Rye Bread

(Vegetarian option: Nussli Salat Mimosa mit Baumnussen)

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Classic Swiss Cheese Fondue

Melted Swiss Emmenthal & Gruyere in white wine served with cubes of bread

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Fresh Fruit Platter served with a Taywell Fruit Sorbet and a chilled schnapps

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Coffee & Petit Fours