Tag Archives: Local Produce

Gastro Boast…

About two years ago I was involved with a very enjoyable charity fundraising dinner over in Essex with a group of other chefs… It was a hugely successful evening and we managed to raise some significant monies for two smaller charities close to the lead organisers heart.

One of the chefs involved (there were five) was a hunk of man in name and stature by the name of Jack Boast. He was at that time working for the Galvin brothers at one of their central London places.

Jack has now moved out of London to the depths of the Essex countryside. He is now based in Chelmsford and he is now heading up one of the Galvins latest ventures a Gastro Pub called The Green Man in the village of Howe Street Nr Chelmsford.

This former derelict pub believed to date back to the 1300’s in parts has undergone a major refurbishment and extension that is thought to have cost circa £1 million.  What has resulted is a bright and airy building that can serve in excess of 200 diners on a busy day before they even start to open the extensive gardens in the summer months.

Jack has put together a menu of some tried and tested classics such as Fish and Chips or Sausage and Mash. But equally there is much more on offer from this talented guy. Locally reared pork, wood fired oven dishes to grills. There is much on offer to tempt…

We visited on what we thought was a busy Saturday lunchtime… Jack assured us it was relatively quiet this day but can get very hectic. The place was buzzing when we arrived and as we sat down at our table our friendly waitress and young staff were working full pace to serve all.

We were on our way to Colchester as we had tickets for the theatre that evening so this establishment fitted the bill perfectly as a stop off on the way up…

We tucked in to some really good grub… Mrs HC was in raptures with her bowl of Wild Mushroom Soup that was unctuous and full of flavour whilst I myself went with the roasted heritage beetroot that were served with mixed salad leaves and a creamy & generous garnish of crumbled local Goats Cheese. Tried and tested combination that got us both salivating for more!

Mrs HC on the set menu had chosen the smoked haddock fish cake topped with poached egg and some creamy leeks… perfectly balanced and well executed.

I myself went for Grilled Calves Liver and Bacon… this was a generous slab of liver that was perfectly grilled still pink and tender – some crispy rashers of streaky bacon and crispy fried fresh sage leaves all nestling on a compote of onions… just perfect with a little
bucket of triple cooked crispy coated fries with floury centres!!!

Dessert from Mrs HC’s set menu was shared with two spoons… a classic arctic roll of vanilla ice cream encased with a light sponge and gratinated Italian meringue and some segments of blood orange with candied peel.  A perfect finish…

We sat there thinking why had we not got something like this more local to us… Mr Boast stuck his head out and then showed me round quickly his domain… it was amazing to think they had just had a relatively quiet lunch service (it seemed busy to me) but were expecting to do in excess of 200 customers that night  – there was a real calm and focused intent from the kitchen and elsewhere around the place…

Something they can “Boast” about is they have got things pretty well right since opening and already have got a loyal following … we certainly are looking forward to going back… just wish they were this side of the Dartford crossing!!!

Galvin Green Man – Howe Street

 

Officially Quirky… our April Events…

qkWell we thought we would celebrate the recognition of being deemed “Officially Quirky” by hosting a quirky dinner featuring some unusual ingredients and flavour combinations.

Having met with the owner of “Quirky Kent” recently we felt it was only proper and fitting to offer the chance for all those lovers of things quirky the chance to sample a Hari Covert event of the same name!

So for two nights (Friday April 21st & Saturday April 22nd) we will serve up a four course supper at our secret venue for the all inclusive price of £30 per person.

Wild Garlic FlowersSo what is on the menu… well following from a welcome drink (we are dreaming up something Quirky) and some quirky seasonal nibbles on arrival we will kick the dinner off with a panna cotta… now I know you all think why start with dessert well we are turning it on its head and starting with a savoury one infused with the flavour of wild garlic and we will garnish with toasted Kent Cobnuts and some crispy Ikan Bilis the Asian dried salted anchovies I have imported especially from Singapore. This will be a interesting combination of flavours and textures.

For the main course we will then serve shredded pork cheeks that

Pork Cheek with "Mole" Sauce
Pork Cheek with “Mole” Sauce

will have been slow braised in a rich Mexican inspired Mole Sauce with just a hint of chocolate. Some freshly cooked Spätzli (pasta) and red cabbage will garnish what will be a flavour packed dish.

We will then serve what many consider to be a quirky way with the cheese course  (it is in fact the French way so very quirky by English standards) – just the one,but one of our

Winterdale Shaw - Picture @TWFoodie
Winterdale Shaw – Picture @TWFoodie

favourites… Winterdale Shaw Cheese from the top of Wrotham Hill, an unpasteurised carbon neutral cheddar. The milk comes from 200 yds down the road from the Friesan dairy herd and a 1000 gallons needs little heating using their solar panelled heat exchange pumps! Some 10 months later the cheeses matured in their flint lined cellars are ready for eating! Homemade Porridge Oat Biscuits and our homemade Banana Jam will be served with it.

Finally to complete the quirky nature of our dinner we felt it should be chocolate beer and sauerkraut… in a cake form… yes you heard right we combine chocolate, beer and pickled cabbage as a cake – we promise you it really does work!

Coffee & Tea (thinking of getting a Quirky Blend for the night) will complete the evening.

To reserve your places just head on over to our online box office 

Dates 21st & 22nd April 2017

Time: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm Prompt

Suggested Donation: £30 per person (service not included)

Menu 

Wild Garlic Panna Cotta, Toasted Cob Nuts, Ikan Bilis

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Braised Pork Cheeks with a Chocolate Mole Sauce,

Spätzli & Red Cabbage

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Winterdale Shaw Cheddar, Porridge Oat Biscuits, Banana Jam

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Sauerkraut, Beer & Chocolate Cake

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Coffee, Tea & Petit Fours

Menu Subject to Market Purchases and Ingredients Availability. 

Farmers Markets… are they worth the money?

photo (177)Now I am always keen to feature top notch local produce at my dinners. I love a good market and relish wandering around trying to find some new inspiration or quirky new product that I have not come across before.

I do however ask the question have the “Farmers Market” had their day?

My biggest gripe is that often a stall holder is not first and foremost a particularly good sales person or customer focused. I have seen too many hide behind their stall looking at their phone seeming totally disinterested and non-engaging with their customers…

Harsh you may think but something I feel is ripe for a discussion /poll.

I often feel there are some stalls that seem to think that their chosen product is worthy of grossly inflated prices and substandard production. I have seen many a cupcake or even a loaf of bread look like an abomination of baking prowess at an eye watering price that even a supermarket would be hard pushed to justify.

Fish that pongs or not looking its best and a dirt encrusted vegetable that makes out it is better because of it…

Thenphoto (17) there is the snobby customer who also makes out they are more than righteous for supporting the market and are a dedicated foodie because they do so!

Well I for one will happily support a Farmers Market but I have to say the stall holder has to up their game to get me to part with my hard earned cash and have a product worthy of it.

Good imaginative food is worth it but alas a lot of it is not… what says you?

Game On… our February Menu

So it has been six years since our last “Game On” dinner when we dedicated the menu to a “Game” themed one.

We felt it was long overdue as winter months are a perfect time to enjoy this much forgotten and often not appreciated culinary treat. So this months menu will feature heavily three types of game.

We will kick the meal off with a Carpaccio of Venison, this is thinly sliced slivers of raw venison loin that we will marry to slices of pickled beetroot and some walnuts all dressed with a horseradish cream.

Next we will serve up a classic risotto that will have the addition of creamed sweetcorn that will then be topped with slivers of roasted wood pigeon breasts and roasted baby corn.  I am drooling just thinking of this!

The main course will be a breast of Guinea Fowl that will be studded with a force-meat of the legs mixed with Prunes. The breast will then be roasted off and served on top of a potato rosti and garnished with a red wine & prune sauce and some wilted spring onions. Then of course green beans will also feature.

To complete the meal we will then serve up a warm bread and butter pudding laced with chocolate and orange marmalade. We will keep it simple by serving it with some pouring cream – just a few extra calories.

Dates: Friday 24th  & Saturday 25th February 2017

Venue: Hari’s Secret Location

Time: 7:30pm Welcome 8:00pm Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £40 per person (service not included)

Menu

Welcome drink and seasonal nibbles

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Venison & Beetroot Carpaccio

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Roasted Wood Pigeon & Sweet Corn Risotto

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Breast of Guinea Fowl, Prune & Spring Onion

Haricots Vert

Potato Rosti

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Chocolate & Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding

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Coffee, Tea & Petit Fours 

Menu Subject to Market Purchases & Ingredient Availability 

To book your places please click here

Cooking with confidence…

cropped-covert-cook-school1.jpgWhen I initially set up as Hari Covert I never thought I would diversify the concept to then include my Covert Cook School offer.

I have always been one to willingly share a recipe or reveal how a dish is constructed etc.  So the Covert Cook School was only a natural progression. I have always loved the art of teaching and have done it on numerous occasions over the years.  I use to teach Asian inspired Fusion food at Ken Lo’s Cookery School and have fond memories of sharing the stage with my long term friend Kam Po But Noodles Butteaching my fellow Egon Ronay Inspectors classic Chinese dishes. Mr But’s Crispy Fried Shredded Beef became the bench mark for all like named dishes throughout the UK on our future inspection visits!

I have taught in Adult Education to absolute beginners and adolescent young ladies in a school environment. Each have been equally challenging and rewarding.

The young adolescent teenagers that get the benefit of my experiences are notable for their trepidation but also their amazement of the task they are made to execute.

This last year we got 18 of them to gut and fillet a freshly killed trout. The squeamish shrieks for me illustrated just how detached and desensitised to our food we have become. Then when I demonstrated and asked them to joint and bone a chicken for many I think the world had ended!

My Covert Cook School has over the past few years had a variety of students. A married couple keen to develop their repertoire, then a young fourteen year old lad from Singapore spent two weeks with us on a residential course designed especially for him. We helped develop his knife skills and introduced him to some of our fine local products as well as experienced a differing culture with a buying and eating trip to France. He recently paid a return visit along with his parents as he felt he had such a memorable time with us…

Just before Christmas we had an enquiry from a mum if we would be happy to take a seriously keen young twelve year old for one of our half day one to one cook school lessons. (It was to be a Xmas present for him)

Having now just met said young lad I was pleasantly surprised to see how keen he was and how well developed his palate is. Our lesson

Cauliflower Risotto
Cauliflower Risotto

now planned will incorporate some unusual combinations –e.g. Cauliflower Risotto with White Chocolate to the more basic but equally enlightening home baked Focaccia. His love of capers (a slightly unusual love for one of such tender years) has proved more challenging! (I do however think I have come up with something both palate challenging and different for him to sample on the day!)  He was both amused and amazed to learn they are the pickled seeds of the nasturtium flower.

So if you are an absolute beginner with little confidence or someone who has a real passion and desire to increase your repertoire we can tailor a class to suit you.

Mr HC with Chicken...
Mr HC with Chicken…

It can be on your own or with a partner/friend or even a small group (max of 4) where a demo can be followed by a lunch. We can also provide gift vouchers to use for a future lesson that make an ideal gift as well.

For more details just click this link and lets all get cooking with confidence!

Pot Luck… our January Sale

Green Beans always feature somewhere...
Green Beans might feature somewhere…

pot-luck

 

So after the excess of the festive period and in a good retail tradition we will for our January 27th & 28th dates trial something just a little different.

STOP PRESS:

SOLD OUT FOR ALL DATES… WAIT LIST ONLY

FEBRUARY DINNERS – GAME ON – BOOKING OPENS 20TH JANUARY 2017

Beer Bread
Beer Bread

We will not be publishing a menu as we will not decide what to cook until we start our normal purchases as we will just take “Pot Luck” on what is around at the time.

We will however make it a three course meal and include tea or coffee at the end. The other little twist we will offer on this occasion is only ask for a minimum of a £10 donation for the meal. However, we will say to diners if you think it was worth more then feel free to be more generous in the table envelope!sale

As with all our events you are invited to bring your own wines/drinks to have with the meal and we will provide glasses and iced tap water on the tables.

So the challenge for us is to come up with a tasty balanced three white logocourse menu that you feel is worthy of more than a £10 donation. The risk for you is you will at the beck and call of what might be available when we make our purchases. So you will need to be adventurous and up for the odd culinary challenge!

So if you are feeling brave and want to partake of this event then please do complete the booking form below. Please note it will be very much a first come first served on the booking front so do not delay in booking and then also please do let us know if you have any major allergies or dietary requirements as this will help us in the planning of the whole menu when we come to make our purchases.

pot-luck-2So who is up for a bit of “Pot Luck” secret dining? If you have never been now is your chance to be surprised!

Arrival: 7:30pm 

Dinner: 8:00pm – A 3 course menu will be served

Suggested Donation: Minimum £10 – we will accept more if you think it was worth it. (service not included)

An ideal Xmas gift ?

Well with Christmas fast approaching we can announce some exciting plans for 2017 and this might well make an interesting Christmas gift for someone that appreciates their food…

We will be announcing our full line up of dinner dates for 2017 in a few days but a note for your diary will be our planned event for March 2017 that will be a much bigger dinner in a new location for us.

We will be taking secret dining to the town of Crowborough just south of Tunbridge Wells where for one night only on March 25th  we will be serving a four course dinner to guests in the Gallery Community Cafe a space within the Crowborough Community Centre that we will be renting for the evening.

The poster below explains a little more and our booking site for this event will open on Monday December 12th at 09:00am.

Reservation Tickets will only be on sale until Tuesday 28th February 2017 so make sure you reserve your places early to ensure you get in.

To book your places please go to our dedicated booking site for this event here

crowborough-poster

Ho Ho Ho – our Christmas Menu now booking…

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As the weather has turned a bit more chilly we thought we would now reveal what will be in store for our Christmas menu.

We have decided to make it a “non Turkey” celebration this year but will however be serving up a crispy Confit Duck Leg as the main course, one of our favourites…

The starter will be a re-working of the potato and black pudding terrine that was served up by Chef Visen at the recent Anno Gin dinner.

We will serve up a warmed slab of a Potato and Chorizo Terrine which we will be served with a smoked paprika  mayonnaise and some toasted salted almonds.santa1

Following the main course some Colston Basset Stilton cheese (a must for Christmas) will be our cheese course. To then finish our celebration  we will be serving a trio of miniature tarts which will include a mini mincemeat one laced with Anno Sloe Gin!!!

This will be a great way to get your Christmas celebrations underway… at the moment we have a private party on the Friday night so only the Saturday night will be available. Please do  book early to ensure you get your desired places.dec

Dates: Friday 16th  & Saturday 17th December 2016

Venue: Hari’s Secret Location

Time: 7:30pm Welcome 8:00pm Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £40 per person (service not included)

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Ho Ho Ho Its Christmas…

Welcome Drink with Seasonal Nibbles

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Warm Potato & Chorizo Terrine, Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise, Salted Almonds.

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Crispy Confit Duck Leg, Braised Puy Lentils, Haricots Vert

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Colston Basset Stilton, Porridge Oat Biscuits, Banana Jam

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Trio of Mini Tarts

Glazed Lemon Curd
Mincemeat Crumble
Chocolate with Salted Peanut Brittle
all served with Clotted Cream

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Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Menu subject market purchases and ingredient availability

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The Itch Dinner… 7 years and counting…

Well what started out as a bit of fun and a way to show how valuable social media advertising and engagement can be we are soon to be marking a bit of a milestone.

We hope we have not been irritating or contagious but believe it or not we have now come November 2016  been doing pop ups for seven years – hence the itch!

We felt a monthly dinner in our secret location would be a great way to demonstrate how we could build a following and develop an idea . So what better way to celebrate at our November dinners than with a special 7-Course tasting menu of dishes we love and we hope you too will savour.

The idea will be to serve this menu of tasting sized portions of some of our favourite dishes. We have developed the concept over the years and we think we have done a range of dinners in some pretty unusual locations as well! In the cellar of the cheese makers at Winterdale Shaw plus the top of Yalding Church roof and even in the private home of Dame Kelly Holmes.

We will kick the evening off with a dish we did some five years ago that we named “A taste of Catalonia” – Roasted Red Peppers  served with Marinated Anchovies and a slice of toasted Ciabatta.

Following this we will serve a freshly made risotto with roasted butternut  squash topped with crumbled goats cheese and toasted Kent cob nuts

Next we will serve a pan fried fillet of sea bass that will be served with a delicate ginger cream sauce. A flavour combination inspired by my friendship with chef But for over 40 years.

The main course will feature some beautiful Kentish Lamb Shoulder that we will slow cook as little individual hot pots and serve with some green beans. These we will garnish with a slice of crispy air dried ham and maybe another little surprise as well.

We then normally always serve our cheese following the main course in the French fashion and on this occasion we will serve our stalwart favourite Winterdale Shaw… the carbon neutral Cheddar from the top of Wrotham Hill.  Our now infamous Porridge Oat Biscuits and some homemade chutney as well.

We will then serve two desserts… firstly a firm favourite with Mrs HC is the Lemon Posset which we will serve with a Raspberry Compote topping and a warm butter shortbread.

Finally the “Damian Allsop”  Water Chocolate Mousse which we hope to serve with a tasting glass of vintage Maury a luscious sweet red wine from the region where we had our holiday home until this summer.

So seven courses to mark seven years of covert dining!

Dates: Friday 25th  & Saturday 26th November 2016

Venue: Hari’s Secret Location

Time: 7:30pm Welcome 8:00pm Dinner Served

Suggested Donation: £45 per person (service not included)

The Itch Dinner

Taste of Catalonia – Anchovy & Roasted Red Peppers

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Butternut Squash Risotto, Goats Cheese & Toasted Cob Nuts

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Pan Fried Sea Bass with a Ginger Cream Sauce

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Kentish Shoulder of Lamb Hot Pot, Green Beans, Bacon Crisp

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Winterdale Shaw, Porridge Oat Biscuits, Chutney

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Lemon Posset, Raspberry Compote, Butter Shortbread

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“Damian Allsop” Water Chocolate Mousse

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Coffee or Tea

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability