Tag Archives: quirky kent

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/

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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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Time for Tea (and Cake)…

Well we are always keen to provide our supper club attendees with a unique covert experience with our events.

For our April event we are pleased to announce something very different and quite unique.

We are linking up with a Master Tea Blender – Alex Probyn – he is brains behind a highly successful company called Blends for Friends and his HQ is located on the edge of the North Downs in a purpose built Kentish Barn that now is a very busy operation.
Alex blends many teas for assorted companies worldwide, they will produce on average one million plus tea bags per week as well as loose leaf tea blends shipped to locations throughout the world.

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Who’d have thought we have such a company within our midst…
Part of the barn has been turned into a swish state of the art bespoke tasting room which is known as the “Blendatorium” where Alex will tutor you through the many vagaries of tea blending – he has a wall of some 500 plus infusions that can create a unique blend.
He will provide attendees with a tutored tasting and this will then be followed by you being able to create your own very unique blend to take home with you.

Finally once this is all completed his in house catering team with some assistance from yours truly we will then serve you with a delightful afternoon tea at their in house café, this will include a selection of sandwiches, homemade cake, biscuits and pastries.

We have also invited Pastry tutor Jonathan Deddis who was a contestant on the last series of the BBC series “Bake Off Crème de la Crème” to also produce some unique high end patisserie where his artistry and skills will also encompass some of Alex’s teas.

This will be a truly perfect way to finish off this event. The café is not open to the public so it will be a truly exclusive and must not miss event. This is a unique way to learn more about the world of tea in a fun and informative way.

The event is a one off we have secured an exclusive all in discounted price for this event of £65 per person that is a saving of £10 per person on their normal tea tasting prices. There are just 12 spaces available on a first come first served basis and the event will only take place if all places are sold so why not get a group of tea enthusiasts together and let’s make a party of it!

To book your places we request you complete the booking form below and we will then invoice you with an online credit/debit card payment link and this will be fully refunded should we not get sufficient numbers for the event.

We request the full payment up front and cancellation by attendees seven days before the event will garner a full refund but thereafter no refunds can be offered unless we can find replacement attendees.

Date: Friday 20th April 2018

Venue: The Barn, Coney Shaw Farm, Kemsing Road, Kemsing, TN15 6NN

Start: 14:00

Tutored Tea Tasting :  with Alex Probyn – a Master Tea Blender followed by your chance to create your own bespoke blend from over 500 assorted infusions…finally you get to sit down to a sumptuous set tea that will include freshly made sandwiches, homemade cakes, biscuits and tea inspired pastries by pastry supremo Jonathan Deddis.

Finish:  5:30pm

Price:  £65.00 per person inclusive of your own tea blend to take home & set afternoon tea.

Please do let us know of any allergies or dietary requirements when booking.

The Long March…

I always like to give my monthly events something of a title and a theme and as the years go by it seems to get a little harder to come up with something pertaining and relevant.

This time for me the month of March sees the beginnings of the end of a long winter as we head into Spring and also we see the clocks spring forward as we head into Summer.

So “The Long March” will see us opening for two nights on the 16th and 17th of the month. The 17th is St Patrick’s Day and we thought shall we go all Irish with the menu but have decided just to in places on the menu have the odd nod to the Emerald Isle.

We will kick the evenings off with a welcome drink and some seasonable nibbles. We have no idea what as yet but we normally serve a soup shot, one cold and one hot “ameuse bouche” so will start researching some ideas.

To kick the meal off we thought we would start with a starter we have done before many years ago… a custard set chilled Cauliflower Terrine. This time we propose to serve it with some freshly poached King Prawns that we will then dress with a sweet chilli dressing and a sliver of roasted cauliflower. The earthiness of the cauliflower should marry well with sweet prawn and dressing. It will also have quite some “eye appeal” as well so a great way to start our food march!

For the main course we thought we would do a roasted pork tenderloin/fillet served with our veritable green beans and the addition of some Chinese Pak Choy. A sauce made with dried apricots and a red wine jus will be a great marriage.

Garnished with some crispy “Pommes Dauphine” a mix of potato and choux pastry that is deep fried will give it all a desirable textural element and something to soak up that sauce.

We traditionally serve cheese following the main course (the French way) and here we hope to introduce an Irish element ! We have also been experimenting recently with some new style biscuits – a totally gluten free version using a mix of ground seeds including hemp, chia and linseed. We of course will also have our now much sought after Porridge Oat biscuits as well.

Finally to complete the meal we will serve a very much in season fruit – Rhubarb as a pastry slice married with the classic combo of custard. This will complete a fun night of good seasonal food with some classic combinations.

Coffee and Petit Fours will finish it all off along with your comments on the event in our guest book or as a review on our Facebook page.

Dates: Friday 16th & Saturday 17th March 2018

Arrival: 7:30pm – Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm 

Suggested Donation: £35 per person  – a £5 per person Reservation Deposit by emailed invoice with a secure credit card payment link will secure your places.

We then request the balance of £30 cash per person on the night  (N.B. service not included)

Water & Glasses provided on the table – guests can bring their own drinks to consume with their dinner. 

Menu

Welcome Drink and Nibbles

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Cauliflower Terrine garnished with Poached Prawns in a Sweet Chilli Dressing

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Roasted Pork Fillet, Apricot Jus

Pommes Dauphine

Haricots Verts & Pak Choy

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Hari’s Cheese Selection with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Rhubarb & Custard Cream Slice

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Coffee & Petit Fours

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

 

Review of 2017…

Well it has been a hectic year at “Covert Towers” during 2017 with a variety of dinners and an assortment of functions throughout the year along with some pretty impressive dining out experiences as well as the odd humdinger as well! Less said about them the better!

We kicked the year off with a new concept for our dinners where we did a “Pot Luck” menu where we literally decided the menu at the last minute and suggested a minimum donation of just £10 per person. We were amazed over two dinners and one lunch we managed to serve a total of 48 diners – a record for us and a great way to kick the year off.

Next up was our Game On dinner where we featured some amazing Game – from venison Pigeon and then Guinea Fowl and this was quickly followed by what we termed our Quirky Dinner as we were deemed a “quirky” food venue on the newly launched Quirky Kent website.

May saw us do an event in a new venue for us on the “Mountain of Crowborough” in the Community Centre where we took over their cafe for the night and popped up with a special four course menu.

We were back there in the summer when we also did another night where we served up our infamous Paella from a single large pan! In fact during this year we managed to serve up Paella a number of times with the biggest challenge, doing a party of 100 using some four separate pans.

Other private functions saw us doing Moroccan Chicken in the pans and even one where we did bubble and squeak so we could serve up Sausages with an onion gravy to about 80 guests enjoying the Tom Carradine Cockney Sing-a-Long. If you are are planning an event in 2018 check out our Man with a Pan service or our @yourhome offer as well.

We also saw events in the Autumn period ranging from our “End is Nigh” dinner to our “October Fe(a)st” and finally just before Xmas our “Ding Dong – Ho Ho Ho” events – one pair of stalwart guests who came along each month commented in our guest book “Turned up trumps again and consistently excellent… delicious food as ever” … makes it all worthwhile for us – thanks David & Brenda!

Our own dining out high has to be the WasTED pop up in Selfridges back in March 2017 whilst we really enjoyed a lunch at Adam Simmonds year long pop up in Soho “The Test Kitchen” and then a new discovery of an Asian Fusion place located in the heart of St Katherine’s Dock run by chef Neil Wager called Dokke – a meal literally just before Xmas was awesome in so many ways – I will return and post a review soon in 2018!

Now we are busy planning 2018 dates and themes. We are already excited about a week long gig in the French Alpes in early February for a long standing Hari customer.

We also have something a little different planned for April – we will publish details soon and we are also hoping to persuade some other guest chefs to join us during 2018 so you can all experience some different styles and unique experiences. We are also hoping to offer a special charity night at some stage as well.

Our first event of 2018 is a joint venture with wine tasting guru Rowena Hawtin so check out the Discover the Vine and Savour the Curd Event for more details… we only have limited spaces left so be quick and reserve your places now.

What a great year 2017 was and wishing you all the very best for 2018…

Cheers

Hari

Flaming June…cooking with fire

So we must be a bit mad in the height of summer moving our Pop Up concept to Rochester and the showroom of The Stove Hub where we will be converting their showroom space into a Pop Up space for two nights!

On June 16th & 17th we will be using their Charnwood wood fired stoves to demonstrate their cooking potential as well as cooking alfresco in the front of the showroom over our gas fired pans as they have no kitchen for us to cook with! We do so love a challenge.

We will have to rent in tables, chairs and crockery to set this dining space up so it will be a major undertaking but we think something a little different…

To kick the evening off we will welcome all with a complimentary drink and some simple seasonal nibbles – some of which will be cooked on the wood fired stove top!

The first course will be a simple salad that will be topped with a piece of marinated fish (that we will cook on top of the wood stove)
Next we will then serve up a dish cooked alfresco in our large paella pan… Moroccan Spiced Chicken will be married to some green olives and home preserved lemons and served with some minted cous cous and bowls of dressed salad leaves… All will be prepared before your very eyes to ensure it is all fresh tasting and in true pop up style with an element of theatre!

Next we will then serve our little individual cheeseboards with a selection of cheeses and our now infamous porridge oat biscuits.

To complete the meal we will then serve up a classic summer dessert of Eton Mess… homemade meringues with Kent strawberries and cream… a perfect summer pudding.

With the coffee we will then griddle some shortbread biscuits on top of the stoves and garnish with a dollop of homemade lemon curd and a fresh raspberry… a great way to finish what we think will be a truly unique event in a very “quirky venue”

Guests are invited to bring their own drinks to consume with their meal and we will provide glasses, ice buckets and water on the tables.

You can reserve your dining places via our ticketing site here

Dates: 16th & 17th June 2017

Where: The Stove Hub, 86 King Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1YD

Time: 7:30pm Welcome Drink & Nibbles

Dinner: 8:00pm Prompt

Suggested Donation:  Early Bird Tickets before May 30th £30 person after this date -£40 per person (service not included)

Menu

Griddled Marinated Fish with Dressed Salad Leaves

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Moroccan Chicken, Green Olives, Preserved Lemons

Minted Cous Cous

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Hari’s Cheese Selection with Porridge Biscuits

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Eton Mess with local Kent Strawberries

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Coffee or Tea, Griddled Shortbread with Lemon Curd

Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availabilty

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. 

It’s official we are Quirky!!!…

qkWe were surprised and rather chuffed recently when we had an email from a newly established web site called QuirkyKent. The site is the brainchild of a former military person who we will call “QK”. (As like us they wish to remain covert for the time being!)

It is basically a labour of love and has taken a fair bit of time just to research and set up. “QK” tells me it is also a work in progress as they are currently working on a revamp and ensure the site works as well on mobile phones and tablets.

Since its launch in just a few weeks it seems to have had in excess of 5000 visitors and is increasing rapidly but it is the content that is what makes this site rather fascinating and for me it seems like a lifetime of trying to be “Quirky” is finally being recognised.

The site has assorted sections e.g. Quirky Dates & Adventures everything from the Panic Room in Gravesend – my daughter has been several times and absolutely loves it to what “QK” informs me is a real bargain from Lydd Aero Club where you can take a private plane with pilot and two friends (Subject to weight restrictions) and have a half hour flight from as little as just a tad over £30 per person depending on time of year and who your pilot is!!!

There is also a section on Quirky Accommodation that has everything from sleeping on Safari at Port Lympne Zoo to a Romantic Tree House at Blean complete with Hot Tub!

We sit in the section Quirky Bars & Eating Out, I love the idea of Playopolis Cafe in Rochester where you can choose from over 500 different board games to a bang on trend converted shipping container Spitfire Cafe located in Hythe where there is a very personal collection of WW1 & WW2 memorabilia.

Speaking at length to “QK” they have some great plans for the site but are keen to only highlight  the very quirkiest of places within the county… we are proud as punch to be featured and we are keen to develop a further relationship with them and look forward to qk2actually meeting with them and perhaps even hosting a totally exclusive “Quirky Event” with perhaps some rather “quirky food” so watch this space… do head over to their site and explore a little further as we aim to do just that as well!

www.quirkykent.co.uk