Tag Archives: Kent

All in the intrest of good food…

Liquid Gold… 
The last couple of days has been a labour of love for me… I have been collecting some of the special ingredients for the forthcoming dinner and in the interest of good food I just had to go and collect them personally!

The cheese from Winterdale Shaw and the Lamb from Glovers was one excursion then today it started with a quick visit to Hurstwood Farm to collect some Cobnut Oil…

I met the main man Mr Dain who gave me a quick tour and I was fascianted to see the recently installed oil press and hear about the plans to also start production of walnut oil as well.A quick look at the orchards and a discourse with Mr Dain on the joys of dealing with the supermarkets and their buyers left me wanting more… I look forward to a return visit and also tasting their roasted cobnut oil… Mr Dain was waxing lyrically about it.

Next I headed off to the coastal town of Whitstable for lunch at Jo Jo’s where we enjoyed a stunning lunch looking out onto the sea and watched the acrobatic wind and kiteboard surfers make the most of the brisk winds and the plethora of windmills on the horizon gently turning.

It was a great lunch of assorted Meze after which we then headed off down the road to nearby specialist bakery ABO to get the inside track on the making of not only gluten free breads but the breads are all made without yeast.

Owner Ingrid has been known to me for some twenty years and her passion for breadmaking is infectious and the lengths she goes to is stunning. They even mill their own seeds as she maintains they are purer and tastier. A little pot of dried alpine flowers from the Austrian Alps she specially imports at considerable costs drew much admiration. The 400 euro price tag produced a sharp intake of breath though.

An interesting selection of breads will now be offered to our diners at the up coming right royal feast and watch this space for some exciting news about a new venture we will soon be offering.

 The mill for the seeds…    the breads…
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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

Hari Covert @your home… another dinner

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Well we seem to be doing something right as we have just completed yet another @your home dinner for a client.

This was to be a birthday celebration that was to entertain some friends of hosts Catherine and birthday boy Jon in a novel and different way.

I duly arrived laden with food and a selection of plates to ensure six hungry guests would be well fed and to prepare the final bits to the chosen menu.

I was also rather lucky as I had a “Hari’s little helper” as well to get stuck into helping in the making of my canapés, which proved to be very useful.

Their son Edward got stuck in and he managed to produce some lovely Parmesan lollipops and some black olive tapenade toasts for me and seemed to show some early signs of being a passionate cook!  The other canapé we served was a smoked salmon roulade with cream cheese flavoured with horseradish.

The table all laid by the host Catherine and the kitchen all neat and tidy meant all I had to do was get their first course ready and once again Hari’s little helper was on hand to give me a helping hand. Their first course was to be a simple but visually appealing dish that I had done at my recent fish tales dinner.

 The use of a paper bag to steam some fresh fish would be the first course. A bed of vegetable julienne (thin matchstick strips) using carrot, leek and fennel was placed onto a damp rectangle of baking parchment. The fish we used was a scallop, sliver of cod and then a Hastings Skate Knob (cheek). Once seasoned and with a splash of white wine and knob of butter the parcels were sealed and placed upon a baking sheet ready to be placed into a very hot pre heated oven to cook for about eight minutes. The paper dries and puffs up with the trapped steam within thus cooking the fish. Served directly to the table in the paper bag means there is an element of theatre at the table as the bags are cut open and the steam escapes. It is a great visual and olfactory sensation.

The next course was a roasted fillet of beef that we served with a Pommes Darphin – grated raw potato that was moulded into a round, a wild mushroom fricassee that included fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms along with some dried cepes, and then a rich red wine jus. The beef we used was an awesome Scottish Extra matured (21 days minimum ageing) fillet. It was good to see all the plates came back cleared so it must have gone down well.

Next we served our little cheese boards that included what is now a firm favourite with us the Winterdale Shaw made by Robin & Carla Betts. An un-pasteurised milk cheddar style cheese from the top of Wrotham Hill. With this we also served a Stichleton that was outstanding and seemed to go down very well.

Finally we served what we believe was “Birthday Boy” Jon’s favourite pudding some Hazelnut meringues which we sandwiched with a mascarpone cream flavoured with orange and marmalade and then we served a chocolate and hazelnut sauce over the top of them and some orange segments and candid zest.

It like the rest of the meal was pretty well polished off and some contented diners seemed well relaxed as I loaded up the car and headed home.

If you would like to book something similar then please just complete the form here and we will contact you to discuss in more detail.

Fish Tales…a cod piece of a story

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Well that is another month’s dinners done and dusted… Why fish tales we hear you ask – well it’s all a bit of a fishy story…

I started (to coin a phrase “this journey”) about a year ago and it continues to grow from strength to strength and once again we were filled with guests both new and old (some old ones commenting it’s now too hard to get in!)

I do however like to ensure those that have not tried us get the chance so please do make sure you follow our booking procedure and book early to ensure your place. I only allow tables to the next dinners to be booked once we have completed our dinners.

So as I said for this month we had yet again a full house with a wide range of guests eager to try our fish inspired menu. The idea was to showcase a range of cooking methods flavours and combinations in a balanced and I hope imaginative way.

The nibbles we served with a welcome glass of Kir Normande (French Cider with Crème de Cassis) were a rich dark black olive tapenade with the addition of anchovies, a smoked salmon roulade filled with cream cheese and finally a little shot glass with a delicate smoked haddock and leek velouté. They all seemed to go down well and one person commented on the tapenade in particular!

For the first course we served Skate Cheeks or what are sometimes known as  “Knobs” It seemed most guests had never tried this difficult to obtain cut of fish but I had decided to source my fish this month from Hastings so the day before the first dinner I had driven to Hastings to collect my order.

The three dozen knobs I required represented 18 fish and they ranged in size from golf ball sized to as big as my fist. I then removed the flesh from the two large bones and effectively made them into even sized pieces.

I had decided to keep it very simple by cooking them in a paper bag… Taking a rectangle of greaseproof paper/baking parchment and initially soaking it in water when placed on the work surface I added a little mound of vegetable julienne (thin matchstick pieces of blanched carrot, leek and fennel) Placing the skate on top of this with a splash of white wine and seasoning I then fold the package tight ensuring the fish is sealed in tightly. Baking the parcel in a very hot oven for about 6-7 minutes until the paper has dried and puffed as the steam enclosed within has cooked the fish. A very simple classical cooking process known as “en papillote” resulted in a delicate way to start the meal.

Next from my trip to Hastings I also had bought a stone (the old imperial weight still used by fishmongers) of day boat caught Cod Fillets. The boats are all raised onto the shingle beach and are the last remaining large fishing fleet to do this in the UK. I trimmed and prepped the fish and decided to serve it pan roasted on top of a bed of crushed new potatoes. The new potatoes were boiled and then added hot to a dressing of olive oil with the addition of chopped capers, roasted caramelised onions and chopped chives. The addition of the potatoes added whilst still hot makes them soak up the oil and gives the mix a lovely rich & deep flavour. I served our ubiquitous green beans and a light butter sauce and the final addition of some deep fried capers scattered around.

It all seemed to go down well and the plates came back clean – always a good sign.

I then served our much loved cheese boards with a selection of specially selected cheeses. Our local one called Winterdale Shaw (the award winning cheddar cheese). A French Tomme d’Ariege from the Pyrenees made with goat, sheep and cows milk. A soft French Pié d’Angloys and finally a Hari’s Button made a re-appearance. The porridge oat biscuits seemed to garner many compliments and these were devoured with gusto!

To complete the meal I then served a chocolate and hazelnut torte that was also “Gluten Free” as it was made like a baked chocolate mousse. The addition of a marmalade coulis and a dollop of Cornish clotted cream with a scattering of toasted chopped Kentish Cob Nuts was the final flourish that once again got devoured with shall we say contented gusto by guests…

It has been a very busy period for me, what with some private functions.  We also are now are just a few days away from cooking for our prizedraw winners at the fast looming Björn Again show in Tunbridge Wells and then another private at yourHome dinner for guests the next night!

So our next main event will be on Saturday April 30th and this time it will be back at Yalding Gardens. We will be once again hosting a special night to celebrate the forthcoming “Royal” marriage. Bookings are now open and we have a few places to fill so please do feel free to spread the word. We promise you it will be a fun filled night and you can check out the menu here  – we hope to see you there.

Cheers

Hari Covert…

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

≈≈≈≈

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

Gift Vouchers…

Something extra from Hari Covert…

Hari Covert Gift Vouchers…

Looking for something different and unusual to give a loved one? Not certain what to get that awkward friend or relative well why not treat them to a “Hari Covert Gift Voucher”.

We can now offer Gift Vouchers in £10 denominations that can then be redeemed against future events at Hari Covert’s Underground Restaurant. Vouchers will be valid for a six month period from their date of issue and can be used as payment against the dining experience of their choice. (subject to availability) Each voucher will come personalised with the recipient’s name and who they have been purchased by.

The Hari Covert “gift vouchers” may only be purchased by a credit or debit card. To do so please just contact us at covert.hari@yahoo.co.uk with your contact details and we will call you to take payment over the phone.

You can also follow Hari Coverts musings and thoughts on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook just click the links below

If you wish to be added to our mailing list please complete the following form

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name and 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