Tag Archives: Local Produce

Demonstration “Covert Cook School” Lessons…

We felt it was about time we released some scheduled demonstration Covert Cook School lessons that will take place on a series of specific dates. The format will be a four and half hour demo of a three course meal that will give you  the opportunity to quiz yours truly and also get actively involved as well if you so wish. It will also give you plenty of tips on presentation and tricks of the trade to ensure you can replicate yourselves.

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I will reveal some of my classic supperclub dishes and tailor the class to be something for all levels of cook to be able to attempt at home.

We will kick the class off with a welcome coffee or tea with some homemade biscuits and then get stuck into the demo. The class will then end with you all sitting down and sampling what has been prepared. Recipe sheets will be provided so you can then head home and replicate.

The class will take place in my demonstration kitchen and will be just four persons so an intimate group of friends or perhaps a group of strangers where new friendships could be formed. If you wish to consume alcohol with you meal then feel free to bring a bottle! We can provide glasses etc – Soft drinks & water will be on hand for all.

The class will demonstrate a three course meal that you will be able to easily replicate at home and give you chance to grow in confidence and impress your own guests.

The classes will take place on the following dates

Wednesday 15th May 10am to 14:30pm

Wednesday 29th May 10am to 14:30pm 

Thursday 30th May 10am to 14:30pm 

Price : £70 per person inclusive – three course lunch , recipe sheets, welcome tea or coffee on arrival, soft drinks & water

To book please complete the following booking form and we will then send you a secure payment link to confirm your place.

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A walk on the wild side…

For our April event we will be taking the “Hari Covert” secret supperclub concept to a new venue for us and one we are extremely excited to share with you all.

We will be hiring the Oaks Restaurant located on the MidKent College campus in Maidstone. This is a lovely venue with a ultra modern dining area and a kitchen back of house that we cannot wait to use as it has some state of the art equipment. We are also using it to give the students  enrolled on catering courses the opportunity to work with us and gain first hand experience of working with some seasoned professionals. It is also a bit of a dummy run for the charity event we are also organising and hosting at the college on May 23rd.

Our event is for one night only on Friday April 12th  and we have named it a “Walk on the Wild Side” as we will be featuring Foraged Wild Ransom (Wild Garlic) that we will pick ourselves and then use in the main course, a delicate vibrant green soup that will see the addition of a smoked haddock quenelle and a soft boiled quails egg incorporated with it. We will also serve our homemade beer bread with some whipped chipotle butter.

The main course will see slow cooked pork cheeks shredded and reformed to resemble a brownie shape and served with a spicy “Mole Sauce” (Chocolate chilli sauce ) then the addition of a piece of crispy pork belly served with a roasted apple sauce and a garnish of wild garlic mashed potato and braised red cabbage.

To complete the meal we will offer a choice of either our favourite local cheese “Winterdale Shaw” – the unpasteurised carbon neutral cheese from the top of Wrotham hill.  Makers Robin & Carla Betts have been making this cheese now for over ten years and you can purchase on a Saturday morning direct from the dairy shop or locally from selected Waitrose Supermarkets and assorted food halls as well as other cheese stocking emporiums. We will also serve our now rather infamous Porridge Oat biscuits with it as well.

The alternative choice to the cheese is a homemade Orange Polenta Cake served with a Marmalade Coulis and a whipped mascarpone cream.

To round things off we will then serve either coffee or tea with some simple petit fours to complete your “covert” meal.

There will also be a licensed  bar with a selection of wines, beers and soft drinks available for purchase on the night direct from the college.

PLEASE NOTE – BRING YOUR OWN IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THIS NIGHT

Date: Friday 12th April – The Oaks Restaurant – Mid Kent College Campus, Maidstone Kent

Time : 7:00pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 7:30pm prompt

Price: £30 Per Person (service not included)

Drinks Choices payable on the night at the Bar

Menu 

Wild Garlic Soup with Smoked Haddock Quenelle & Soft Boiled Quails Egg served with  Homemade Beer Bread & Chipotle Butter

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Pulled Pork Cheeks, Chocolate Mole Sauce,  Crispy Pork Belly Roasted Apple Sauce, Wild Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Braised Red Cabbage

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Winterdale Shaw (Local Cheddar) & Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Orange Polenta Cake, Marmalade Coulis & Mascarpone Cream

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Coffee or Tea with Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

Please use the form below to make your booking – we will email you a secure link to pay your £5 per person confirmation deposit. The balance owing is payable on the night with cash.

“Choice or No Choice” – that is the question?

I was discussing with an old friend the other day the modern restaurant trend to provide set menus with no choice and whether being this dictatorial is a step too far for the customer.

When I set up “Hari Covert’s” my menus have always in the most been a no choice affair and we will to a degree cater for allergies or dietary requirements where we can.

I can think of a few places in Kent who operate a set menu no choice or very limited menu policy and my friend bemoaned the one he wanted to go to was inflexible in its approach. Not only did he have to book so far in advance to secure a table there was not an alternative if you did or could not eat what was on offer!

He had some friends who went and were given a “bloody” pigeon breast that basically they could not eat and it has put him right off.

My argument would be do not go if for some reason you cannot be open minded enough to try even if no choice!

Now this for me is a major turnaround from the young lad who would not eat any meat as child unless it was chicken breast and was a very fussy eater!

Chefs today have to be so clever and so flexible to deal with so many food fads and allergies it does not surprise me to see them offer limited or no choice menus. It not only makes commercial sense it also is a very big challenge to come up with something to suit all tastes, palates and dietary needs.

Planning for the YCPS Charity Dinner in May has been a challenge not only trying to get the dishes out of the participating chefs but also to make the menu fit for all tastes.

In fact one likely attendee said to me recently  when I revealed the menu to them that they would not be able to eat the first course as it would contain an ingredient they could not stand – “just more for my partner”  they remarked (a good attitude to have)

Open mindedness is vital when partaking in a set or very limited choice meal and whilst I equally have foods I am not so keen on I always try to keep a really open mind to what I am being served.

It always use to annoy me when inspecting restaurants, especially Asian to be told the Chinese or Japanese scripted specials on the table were not for the “Western tastes”. Let me make that decision please.

Very true on one occasion when I ordered a “raw squid marinated in the bile of its own intestines”… mind you the crispy salmon skin on another occasion was a revelation that I still fantasize over.

So I thought it would be good to conduct a poll… let’s see what you all think (up to 2 answers allowed) and do feel free to comment about some of the surprised revelations that you have eaten and even your own food hell’s that you wish you hadn’t !!!

2018 What a year…

Well as we now approach the end of the year we can say 2018 has been a year of ups and downs… We would firstly like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and thank you for your custom and support. It has been much appreciated.

The second half of 2018 has been very challenging whilst I have recovered from a broken femur and at times I had felt very frustrated I was unable to offer my services to you. I can now say that it has given me time to reflect and plan what we will be doing in the future and I do hope you will join us at one of our events as we get much pleasure in providing good food and ambiance.

We have just posted our 2019 dates up to June that will take place in a variety of venues and we could well be adding other dates at our home (secret) venue as well so watch this space. All events are open for booking and we will also be posting more details of menus and prices nearer to each event. If you wish to reserve your spaces now please just complete the booking form on our Events Page .

We hope you have a great festive season and it brings you much joy and happiness. We are excited to get cooking again in 2019 and hope we can welcome you all to our table and a fine meal at some stage.

Merry Christmas

Hari Covert and his team

The Small Holding… a review

I was recently treated to a meal at this restaurant by a friend which was very generous of them, especially as they also had to be my taxi service as well.

The Small Holding had been on my radar for some time as its chef patron Will Devlin had for a period before hand been running a series of pop ups in the area as “No Fixed Abode” and I had heard good things and been impressed by their Instagram feed with some imaginative and stylish modern British food.

Well as the rain tipped down on our way to the place located out in the countryside just south of  Tunbridge Wells in the village of Kilndown with lovely views (on a less inclement day) across the Weald this former pub (the Globe & Rainbow) offers some serious cooking with a great deal of produce grown on site or foraged locally and the rest resourced from local farms nearby.

The menus are divided between what they term ½ Acre or Full Acre the former is five courses and the latter nine courses of tasting plates. Both menus can be paired with wines or craft beers at an extra cost.

The menus offered are a no choice affair that highlights what is in season and at their best from the poly tunnels and working small holding in their back yard and what the hedgerows have to offer. It is imaginative and in places quirky where they use a range of techniques or flavour combinations to test and excite your palate.

We settled at our table in a cosy dining area with wood burning stove for those chilly winter days, wooden tables and chairs and a kitchen that is open to view all adding to the charm of the place. We opted for the ½ Acre Menu as it was lunch time. Some nibbles delivered to us highlighted courgettes, a bhaji style fritter, a batter encrusted flower, and a little filo tartlette filled with a creamy pungent puree certainly whetted the appetite.

Our first course was home cured Bresola that was served with assorted textures of beetroot and some creamy soft burrata cheese, great simple presentation with a balance of flavours and textures.

Next came some bread along with the next course, the bread – sour dough with some local rapeseed oil and basalmic vinegar and a big dollop of local butter. The course it accompanied was a home grown courgette stuffed with some Kentish Blue cheese topped with some puffed bulgar wheat – a really unctuous and full flavoured dish.

We then had a fish course that was a little morsel of freshly salt cured mackerel served on top of shredded mackerel mixed with a horseradish cream sandwiched between two discs of home-grown pickled kohlrabi dusted with some Lovage salt. It looked and tasted very good – just wish it had been twice the size as it was exceedingly moreish.

For the main course we then had some roasted old spot pork literally from the neighbour (the other side of the hedge from them) a couple of slices of a perfectly roasted loin and a crispy morsel of soft pork belly it was garnished with a tasty home- grown carrot topped with a nutty sesame crumb – very accomplished and balanced with their flavour combinations.

For the dessert course we had locally foraged wild blackberries that were with a lovely tart coulis of said same fruit topped with a “rocher” of fennel ice cream topped with foraged wood sorrel – some biscuit crumb added a textural compliment. It certainly hardly touched the sides!

We completed the meal with the cheese a Burwash Rose an unpasteurized cows milk cheese from nearby Stonegate in East Sussex – served with some oat biscuits and thin homemade crackers and a courgette pickle the cheese is washed in rose water so it has a distinctive flavoured rind a perfect finish to the meal.

I was impressed and so glad I had finally made it to try Will’s food – I am now looking forward to quizzing him on the September 4th Scoff Quaff show on Channel Radio and digging deeper into how the venture came about and what the plan is for the future. I will be back and I hope you will tune in at 11-12 on the 4th to hear more about it all. If nothing else try the place out as it is certainly one to watch for the future…

The Small Holding – Kilndown Tel: 01892 890105

https://thesmallholding.restaurant/

Happy Friday the 13th…

UPDATE: Due to an unlucky accident on June 12th and ending up hospitalised for ten days and a broken femur this event is now cancelled. Will update in due course on future events


Paraskevidekatriaphobia sufferers need not attend…

Well for our July event it will take place on Friday 13th July – we are not superstitious and hope you aren’t either!  We are planning weather permitting to make it an alfresco meal down the bottom of our garden – please note if weather is too unsettled it will be done indoors.

We felt for this dinner we would make it a memorable four course meal that showcased some interesting techniques and flavour combinations. (Not that all are dinners are not so intended!)

We will kick the meal off with a welcome dink and nibbles of a seasonal nature and then serve as a first course a homemade coarse terrine that will incorporate pork and chicken… I love making a terrine as there is a skill to keeping it moist and full of flavour and it always excites me when I cut into it for the first time. I will serve it with a homemade butternut squash & cranberry chutney that has been maturing now for a good while!

Next a challenging dish for some will be a Ceviche of sea bass and salmon. This is raw marinated fish served with a thinly sliced salad of fennel. The addition of mint in the Ceviche also adds a zing to the citric marinade that cooks the fish. Perfect for a summer evening.

The main course will be roasted beef fillet served with a “Pepper Club” sauce – this is a piquant green peppercorn and port soaked raisin cream sauce – we will serve some fresh green beans (as always) and pommes dauphine little deep fried mashed potato and choux pastry pillows… perfect to mop up the sauce.

Finally we will basically serve a jelly & ice cream dessert that will showcase Marden based cider makers Phil & May Turner and specifically their elderflower cider – we will also stud it with fresh local raspberries and when we serve it some homemade strawberry parfait and warm butter shortbread biscuits.

Dates: Friday 13th July

Time : 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm prompt

Price: £40 Per Person (service not included)

Menu

Welcome Drink & Seasonal Nibbles

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Homemade Pork & Chicken Terrine served with a homemade Butternut Squash & Cranberry Chutney

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Sea Bass & Salmon Ceviche with a fennel salad

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Roasted Fillet of Beef served with a Pepper Club Sauce

Pommes Dauphine,  Haricot Vert

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Turners Elderflower Cider Jelly with Local Raspberries,

Strawberry Parfait and Warm Butter Shortbread

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Coffee or Tea, Petit Fours

Menu Subject to Market Purchases & Ingredient Availability 

 

Paella comes to the “pequeño toro”

For our June events we are excited to announce we will be returning to the village of Brenchley and in particular we are preparing two nights of Paella at the “Little Bull” Cafe & Bar in this picturesque village.

We will be cooking alfresco a large pan of classic mixed Paella at 6pm and 8pm on the two nights and this can be reserved directly with The Little Bull by calling them on 01892 724985 or you can complete the booking form below and someone will call you back to confirm your reservation.

We are also subject to availability offering the Paella for takeaway for those wishing to experience a freshly cooked Spanish classic in the comfort of their own home.

We will be serving at 6pm and again at 8pm so why not reserve your places now to ensure you get your Spanish fix and come on down to the “pequeño toro” and say hola!!!

Dates: 8th & 9th June

Times:19:00

Price:  £15 per Adult £9.50 for Children (under 10)

Takeaway £10 per Adult £6.00 per child (subject to availability)

Menu: 

Table Snack: Pipas al Punto de Sal

Freshly Cooked Paella – Chicken, Chorizo, Prawn, Squid with Peppers, Green Beans and Peas 

Vegetarian Option available (please request when booking)  

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Fresh Local Strawberries & Cream 

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May you join us…

“To invite people to dine with us is to make ourselves responsible for their well-being for as long as they are under our roofs.”

– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

This quote sums up our supper club perfectly – I have long been a fan of french gastronome and food philosopher – his aphorisms  have often rung true on so many occasions. This is no more so than the one above…

For our May event we will feature those in season foods such as Asparagus, Lamb and Strawberries with some novel combinations and some well tried marriages.

We will kick the evenings off with welcome drink and seasonal nibbles and then start the meal with a risotto made with fresh local Asparagus, Gorgonzola cheese and toasted  hazelnuts – creamy and unctuous.

The main course will be roasted lamb served with a foraged wild garlic crumb, the new seasons jersey royal potatoes, peas and charred lettuce all bought together with a redcurrant jus.

Our cheese selection will reflect what is best and in season and finally what could be better than a soft chewy meringue topped with cream and fresh local strawberries that will be well and truly coming into season.

We hope you will come and join us and we welcome old and new customers to come and sample what “Covert” dining will all be about…

Please complete the booking form below, we will then email you an invoice to confirm your reservation with a small deposit that can be paid securely online.

Dates: Saturday 19th May

Time : 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm prompt

Price: £30 Per Person (service not included)

Menu:

Asparagus, Gorgonzola and Toasted Hazelnut Risotto

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Roasted Lamb Rump, Wild Garlic Crumb, Jersey Royals, Charred Lettuce, Peas & Green Beans, Redcurrant Jus

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses. Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Fresh Local Strawberry Pavlova

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Coffee, Tea & Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

Covert Secrets Revealed…

We thought it is about time we offered a structured cookery demo so instead of a dinner event in February we are offering a very special lunch preceded by a live cookery demo.

We will have just four spaces and Hari will demonstrate a full three course menu that you will all sit down to eat. It is a great way to learn some new techniques and tips and Hari will be more than happy to answer any questions along the way.

We will ask all attendees to arrive at 9:45am for a welcome coffee and biscuits. The demo will kick off at 10:00 am prompt and then lunch will be served to all around 1:00pm (or basically when ready)

The dishes that will be demonstrated will be as follows

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Date: Saturday 24th February 2018

Arrival: 9:45 am

Finish: Circa 2:00 pm

Price: £55 per person includes Recipe Sheets and  3 course Lunch


Starter: Ceviche of Smoked Haddock, Celeriac Remoulade & Apple

Main Course: Supreme of Chicken with a Prune & Bacon Stuffing, Red Wine & Prune Sauce

Gratin Dauphinoise & Vegetable Medley

Dessert: “Damian Allsops” Water Chocolate Mousse served with Blood Orange Segments

N.B. Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

If time allows Hari will also demonstrate his Beer Bread and the demo will also show how to bone a whole chicken and the process of making a red wine stock. He will endeavour do everything from scratch (where possible) and will also demonstrate the presentation of the finished dishes. Attendees will also be provided with recipe sheets to take away so they can replicate at home.

This event will only go ahead if all four places are filled so why not get a group together and come and enjoy a live demo followed by a lunch.

To book  your places please complete the form below and we will then confirm your booking with an online invoice for credit card payment to secure your places.

 

Do we really love food?

A recent BBC News headline caught my eye as I laid in bed supping my morning cuppa “Chef Angela Hartnett says Britons are not really foodies”

It is quite a bold statement and  I have to say an opinion I would totally concur with as there are many Britons that like to think they are but we really do lack the same food culture as our European neighbours Spain, France or Italy. (they are not without their faults as well)

The Germans are more like us whilst Asian cultures have far more developed understanding of food than we do. I have to say we have become better in the last 40 years but one of the points Angela Hartnett raises is the fact that our food culture is money driven from the “haves and have nots”

We are also so wasteful with food and totally unimaginative in using up those items past their best. The lack of skills in a kitchen both at home and now often in professional environment also means there is a need to develop the skills lost over time on how to manage our resources better. A good business practice as well.

Those BBC programmes “Back in Time” that looked at how families cooked and ate far more left overs and had a connection with food was a fascinating insight into how times have changed over the decades.

Having lived in cultures that appreciate their food, the seasons and their history it seems a real shame we do not teach from a very young age here in this country some basic principals. I fondly remember a few years ago seeing a class of primary school children (All under 5) in France being led into a Michelin starred restaurant where I was dining to come and sample some classic French ingredients like foie gras, snails and chocolate to have their palates educated.

I have for the past six years annually coached a group of young girls at a local school how to gut a fish and bone a chicken and it never ceases to amaze me how squeamish the majority are about the whole process and how unconnected they are from the food they enjoy.

I myself was a fussy child not eating many foods and it was not until I left home and started my studies and travelled more widely that I woke up to food and what it has to offer. It provides conversation, enjoyment and nourishment and is also useful in so many other ways.

If there is one thing we should teach in schools it is how to appreciate the food we eat and how we can cook it properly. I will keep doing my bit but unless we change and become a nation of foodies then alas nothing will change!

I also recently managed to watch a film on Netflix called “The Last Magnificent” about one of the first celebrity chefs in America Jeremiah Tower. It was an eyeopening and thought provoking look at how what we now take for granted is a relatively modern phenomenon. What struck me most was how as a child his parents left him to his own devices (he had a very privileged upbringing and it was this experience that helped develop his passion for food)

So my challenge for 2018 is to keep plugging away at trying to develop young palates and create a different culture towards food. I would challenge anyone who wants to join me on this mission will be most welcome to do so.