Well 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.
So 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
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
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.
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
Well it had been a few months of planning this pop up once again at the rather special venue of Anno Distillers in Marden. The event we held in 2015 was a smaller affair and this time we decided to make it bigger and a little more special with the addition of another chef along with yours truly.
So on a couple of chilly October evenings we found ourselves humping equipment into the well-guarded lock up of Anno’s just off Pattenden Lane in the industrial heart of Marden!
We were joined by former royal chef Visen Anenden who hails from Mauritus but has a veritable who’s who of a culinary background. He trained with Michel Roux at Le Gavroche, spent some time working on events for Anthony Worral Thomson and then spent just on ten years working as the personal chef to HRH Prince of Wales.
He has recently had his own pub in south London (The Duchy Arms) and then also recently been cooking for the likes of Simon Cowell and the business magnate George Soros.
Visen arrived mid-morning on the Thursday and we then spent the rest of that day prepping the dishes ready for the first night on the Friday. I like to do two nights back to back as it means we can maximise not only the menu offered and the numbers we can serve it makes the whole process a lot easier with the “Mise en place” required.
It was a mountain to climb – three whole huge Pork Belly’s, had to be boned, rolled and then poached in a flavoursome stock, fillets of fresh salmon required curing with sea salt, sugar, spices and a generous dousing of Anno’s Elderflower vodka whilst yours truly had already made a homemade Membrillo laced with the Anno’s Sloe Gin as well as a Jelly to go with the homemade “Duck Rillettes” made from confit duck legs.
It was a challenging dinner as there were firstly five courses to prepare and serve and we had no cooking facilities whatsoever- so we had to make sure the menu reflected this and was able to be done under such conditions. Every piece of crockery, cutlery and glassware was transported to the venue…
One guest was in awe of our achievements with one plug in oven, an electric hob, one induction ring and then a small deep fat fryer! We were not allowed gas or naked flames (e.g. candles) as this is rightly a risk with so much alcoholic spirit kicking around!
So Friday was a full house with 24 guests firstly partaking of a welcome G&T in the balcony office area as they munched their way through some nibbles, a Pan Catalan, cauliflower soup shot and deep fried chick pea fritters. (Saturday we served the same but a freshly made carrot and orange soup instead of cauliflower)
As guests sat at one long trestle table conversations flowed – new friendships were formed and both of the Anno founders gave a short precis history talk of the origins of their little enterprise each night and how they came about producing a truly artisan product.
The main course was as stated the slow cooked Pork Belly that we had poached for three hours in a stock and then placed on a tray and pressed flat overnight to compact the meat. The sauce served was a mix of the stock with roasted pork bones with white wine and fresh spices including finally a big bunch of fresh fenugreek infused in the reduced sauce! All this was served with a king oyster mushroom plus some freshly sautéed Enoki mushrooms. A braised halved little gem lettuce was for one guest a revelation. Some pork crackling that had been dehydrated for twenty four hours and then deep fried to make it all go puffy was the garnish along with a pressed potato and black pudding cake that was layered thinly sliced potatoes and black pudding infused with butter and duck fat completed the dish.
We served the cheeses in the French fashion after the main and these constituted of the local Winterdale Shaw and then tangy and much enjoyed Stichleton (Like a Stilton but made with raw milk)
Dessert was also a big hit, a savarin (yeast raised brioche dough sponge) was cooked off and then left to absorb a sugar syrup jus laced with Anno’s latest 60 percent proof Gin. A half-pound packet of butter (each night) was left to brown in a pan before being strained and added to some Crème Chantilly (sweetened cream) laced with vanilla. This all served with fresh local raspberries from the suppliers to M&S and Waitrose located on Seven Mile Lane by West Peckham completed the meal.
The dining space next to their still known as Patience was cavernous and whilst guests were asked to make sure they had plenty of layers on to keep warm, the final flourish of a hot coffee was served with homemade chocolate truffles that showcased their final artisan product. The dried cranberries had been marinated in Anno’s Cranberry Gin for a couple of days before being added to the chocolate ganache.
It had been a great couple of nights and the comments we had in our guest book were nothing but complimentary … thanks once again to both Norman and Andy for their support and allowing us to use such a special venue. Plus my thanks to Visen for agreeing to join me on this event. We are always on the hunt for something new and different and we will hopefully have some new venues to use in 2017 – please watch this space!
Do check out Anno Distillers and try their products they are very special indeed and I know we have converted many to them… just watching the guests go home laden with their purchases on the night was something to behold… I do hope none were stopped by the local constabulary on their way!
For our October dinners we are going to be popping up once again in the village of Marden.… we can now reveal once again we will be hosting two dinners in the Anno Distillers distillery with those lovely chaps Andy & Norman
This time however I will be joined by a fellow chef and new supper club host who is in the process of setting up his own pop ups.
Chef Visen Anenden will be joining us to cook a few courses alongside yours truly. Visen is an accomplished chef who trained with the Roux family at Le Gavroche and then worked on events for celebrity chef Anthony Worral Thompson.
He has most recently however been the personal chef to HRH The Prince of Wales household where for nearly ten years he worked in the assorted homes of the Prince and travelled with him on assorted foreign trips.
We have tried to ensure the dishes we are preparing highlight not only the handiwork of those clever guys at Anno but local produce and we hope a few stories peppered into the evening of both Visen’s and Hari’s experiences.
There will be just twenty two spaces available each night for this rather unique and exclusive event and we will have either Andy or Norman on hand each night to provide an insight into the workings of their still and the fruits of their labours.
So onto the menu… we will kick the evening off with assorted welcome nibbles served with a welcome Gin & Tonic whilst you will get an introduction and tour from the makers into how they make their Gins and Vodka.
First course prepared by Hari will be an unctuous Duck Rillettes served with a jelly made from Anno’s Sloe Gin.
Visen will then serve cured salmon that will have been cured using Anno’s Elderflower Vodka and a classic beetroot and horseradish garnish.
Chef Visen will then be in charge of the main course where he will be serving up a Pork inspired dish of the belly and a cake of black pudding. I am intrigued by his mushroom, lettuce – fenugreek sauce – his love of spices must be part of his Mauritian heritage.
Hari will be picking the cheeses and sticking local with Winterdale
Shaw unpasteurised Cheddar and then a Kentish Blue from Staplehurst.
To complete the meal Visen will be in charge again and his dessert will be an Anno Gin soaked sponge, raspberry, and burnt-butter-vanilla cream, all served with a glass of sweet wine.
Dates: Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd October 2016
Venue: Anno Distillers Marden
Time: 7:30pm Welcome 8:00pm Dinner Served
Suggested Donation: £50 per person (service not included)
Nibbles with an Anno Gin & Tonic
Duck Rillettes with Green Peppercorns & Sloe Gin Jelly,
Sour Dough Toast
Salmon cured in elderflower vodka, chickpea blini, pickled beetroot and horseradish
Pork belly, pressed potato-black pudding “cake”, mushroom and lettuce-fenugreek sauce
Winterdale Shaw Cheddar & Kentish Blue with Banana Jam & Porridge Oat Biscuits
Gin soaked sponge, raspberry, and burnt-butter-vanilla cream + small shot glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes
Coffee & Petit Fours
Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability
To book your places please complete the following form and we will contact you within 24/48 hours to confirm your booking with a credit card number
Well what a week that was! It had been a few years since we had done a Vegetarian themed dinner and we could not have done a more ambitious one this time without the help of fellow chef Peter Pickering and his Vegan & Vegetarian inspired Sprig of London Pop Up concept.
Peter a graduate from Oxford Brookes University has had a stellar culinary career working with some great chefs as well as some tough assignments. He really put his heart and soul into this series of dinners and road tested his recipes beforehand and also spent a fair few hours in their preparation!
It was a real pleasure to have Peter and the comments we had from those attending were very rewarding. We had “Vegetarians” and “Meat Eaters” – all seem to be tucking in to a diverse range of dishes and what was more fascinating was the the fact that certain dishes really did provoke a reaction.
Peter’s Sprig of London concept is planning to open a series of pop ups in London early in 2016 and his visit to Hari’s was a great way to trial some of his ideas.
The dish titled “Turnip, Radish & Orange” was for me a revelation of cooking and curing processes along with some great flavour combinations.
The main component of turnip was a whole roasted turnip that was baked in tin foil with just a little bit of oil for some two hours, peeled and then thickly sliced. It was then fried in vegan margarine and finished with a drizzle of maple syrup to help caramelise and colour it.
The resultant texture was soft and unctuous and as one guest remarked like a succulent ripe peach. The bitterness of the vegetable softened but married well with the orange juice reduction with the salty soy and the the addition of pickled sliced radish and a turnip and orange puree bought it all together. It was a truly masterful dish!
The dish that seemed to raise most discussion however was the second dessert, namely the “White Chocolate Coconut Porridge”. Here he firstly toasted some white chocolate (baked broken up pieces in a hot oven till they started to caramelise) He added this to toasted desiccated coconut and nibbed almonds to create what could be described as a crumble mix.
A tin of coconut milk was reduced and then thickened to make a cream. Coconut Water was then used to make a porridge in the normal way and lightly sweetened. When then the Coconut Cream, Porridge and Crumble was layered in the serving bowls it made for a real rich and luscious eating experience but did split the diners. It was a real “Marmite” dish, some thought it was more breakfast than pud and those that do not like the coconut flavour were equally vocal.
There were some converts but overall I think it was a hit… I certainly liked it, it was a great way to complete the dinner.
I had tried to showcase some great local produce from the local Cobnuts from Hurstwood Farm and their cobnut oil that was then combined with the dried green beans I had specially obtained from Switzerland making this a truly international combination.
When I set up Hari Covert nearly six years ago my plan was to do a new theme every month that I hosted an event. We have pretty well done this and also not had to repeat a menu in that time – we have however repeated or tweaked a dish or two over the years…
We will always try and cater for a vegetarian or those with allergies with our menus when requested. We have also served a complete Vegetarian menu successfully in the past. Our dinners in association with Moodleys Beers where we matched the menu with the range of beers Yudhistra was producing a case in example.
Sprig is the brainchild of chef Peter Pickering who is keen to put his somewhat stellar CV of quality establishments to use in a new and innovative way where he is also in control of the hours he works.
This time we were approached by his new Vegetarian Supper Club “Sprig of London” who wanted to trial their concept whilst they still look for possible London venues to host their supper club dinners.
We have together put a joint menu that reflects both of our culinary styles and influences. I myself will be doing some of our favourite combinations from our beer bread to porridge oat biscuits that we serve with cheese.
The dishes Peter will prepare will be everything from a Brik – the crispy north African pastry with wild mushroom lemon and rosemary through to a combination titled intriguingly Turnip, Radish and Orange. Finally the Sprig of London dessert offer will be Porridge, White Chocolate & Almond Milk. They all sound different and I look forward to seeing the finished dishes and taste them as well.
We are doing these dinners over four nights from Wednesday 18th Novemberand we still have spaces on most nights so please do go and take a look at the full menu and booking form with this link
It will be a fun few nights with some interesting foods and we hope you will realise the absence of meat and in many cases gluten whilst a challenge for chefs is not one that is not to be missed as the food will be tasty and imaginative.
When I heard that drink “Mothers Ruin” or Gin was now being made in Marden I had to find out more…It was some two years ago that scientists Andy & Norman started their fabrication of Gin. (Some might have then said this was the downhill slide for Marden!) Anno Distillers are the first distillers of this much loved drink in the county of Kent for over 200 years.
Well it was a friend who reminded me of them and so I set about introducing myself and I can now report we are excited to say our October dinner event on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th will be hosted by Andy and Norman at their Marden based distillery.
It is not a glamorous location on an industrial estate beside the Ashford to London rail line but what lies behind the steel shutters is a real Aladdin’s cave. The ex scientists have built their own still and after much testing and tinkering they launched their craft gin made with local botanicals and a few added ingredients one would not expect. Namely foraged samphire and local hops to give their gin its unique taste and style. Added to this they also make a Sloe Gin and a very drinkable flowery Elderflower & Vodka.
What could be more fitting than a dinner using all three of their labours in the dishes we create. So after some sampling and thought I have decided to attempt to cook and serve on site the following menu. No mean feat as they have no kitchen and so we have had to be clever in the way the menu has been constructed!
The dinner will be housed within the distillery on the first floor overlooking the very sexy looking copper and polished metal still – a single table in amongst boxes of gin and other packaging awaiting to be filled will be the back drop. Andy and Norman will be in attendance to guide guests through their story and how their gin is made. It will be a fascinating evening and one that will be very popular I am sure.
We are asking guests to arrive for 7:15pm so they can firstly sample a welcoming G&T along with some seasonal and possibly gin inspired nibbles. Norman or Andy (or both) will provide a guided tour of the process before guests will then sit down for the dinner.
We will kick off with a dish using their sloe gin – I have asked a friend to import from Switzerland (he is coming over for the September “Fowl Feast”) some Dörrbohnen (dried green beans – A Hari Covert Meal would be bereft without some green beans!) These beans are braised and will with the addition of some fresh blanched ones form the base of a salad with the addition of some pan fried wood pigeon breasts. Garnished with some local Toasted Cob Nuts All this will be dressed with the Anno Sloe Gin based vinaigrette… I am drooling just typing this…
We will then follow this with the main course – I had agonised what to do but because of the limited cooking facilities I have opted for a Pork Fillet with an Anno Gin, Juniper and Blueberry Sauce – we will be cooking the pork fillet wrapped in thin sliced cured ham in a large Paella pan – we plan to serve these with a Pommes Boulangere… we will poach thinly sliced potatoes and onions in a chicken stock that will then be crisped on the top using a blow torch.. we have to be resourceful when there is no oven! Finely shredded cabbage will be simply steamed with some butter and served as the vegetable.
Following the main we will serve dessert – a break from our normal format of cheese before pudding. We are using the Anno Elderflower & Vodka for a Jelly infused with local fresh raspberries and then some homemade shortbread biscuits will accompany this.
Finally the cheese will be the local Winterdale Shaw served simply with our Porridge Oat Biscuits and a dollop of our homemade banana Jam and a snifter of Sloe Gin to wash it all down… we think it will be the best way to complete the evening.
Coffee and some Gin and Lemon Fudge will be the final offering.
Welcome G&T with seasonal nibbles
Dörrbohnen & Green Bean Salad with Toasted Cob Nuts and Pan Fried Wood Pigeon with Anno Sloe Gin vinaigrette.
Cured Ham wrapped Pork Fillet with Gin, Juniper & Blueberry Sauce, Pommes Boulangere & Steamed Cabbage
Elderflower Vodka & Raspberry Jelly with Homemade Shortbread Biscuits
Winterdale Shaw,Banana Jam & Porridge Oat Biscuits with Sloe Gin Snifter
Coffee with Gin & Lemon Fudge
Menu Subject to Ingredient Availability & Market Purchases
Dates: Friday 16th & Saturday 17th October
Suggested Donation : £45.00 per person (service not included)
If you wish to be part of this very unique event then please book quickly as we are limited to just twelve spaces each night. Just complete the booking form below and we will contact you within 24 to 48 hours to confirm the booking.
Well as Autumn fast approaches this months dinner will focus on the humble apple as a key ingredient at each course.
We will kick the meal off with a glass of Kir Normande… A glass of chilled cider with the addition of creme de cassis and some seasonal apple themed nibbles!
The first course will be a homemade brawn of Kentish Apples, Cooked Potatoes and Smoked Haddock set in an Apple Jelly. We will serve this with a light horseradish cream and some crisp Melba toasts. It will be a light start to what will be a fairly hefty dinner.
Next will be a slowly braised pork cheek, cooked in apple juice the tart and slightly sweet flavour helps cut into the richness of the meat and we will serve this alongside a slow cooked and crispy piece of pork belly. We will serve some roasted apple to cut the richness of both meats and the mustard grain creamed potatoes and our ubiquitous serving of green beans will complete the main course.
We will then serve a couple of our favourite cheeses – namely the local cheddar from Winterdale Shaw plus a personal favourite the Stichleton, this is the blue veined cheese from Nottinghamshire made in the traditional way of Stilton from unpasteurised milk. All served with our porridge oat biscuits and our home-made Banana Jam, plus of course some fresh crisp apple as well!
Finally we will serve a Apple, Pine Nut and Cinnamon Torte with a garnish of Salted Caramel sauce and a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. We will also serve a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes with this as we will have restocked our cellars of our local French wine!
To complete the dinner we will then serve either coffee or tea with an appropriate petit four. I will have the week before the dinners also been down in Spain (Girona) attending the opening of “master chocolatier” Damian Allsop’s new chocolate restaurant and shop so might have imported some special goodies! You will all have to wait and see!
We request a suggested donation of £35 per person (service not included) Guests requested to arrive at 7:30pm with dinner served at 8:00pm promptly.
The Bell Inn – Ticehurst – Well I had a quick lunch here a couple of weeks ago with Mrs HC as we wanted a place close to a B&B that some friends visiting us were staying in. We only had some light bites but were quite impressed so we booked a table for dinner on this basis.
So the appointed day arrived and we rendezvoused with them for a pre dinner drinks while we perused the menu. The place had guests but was certainly in no way rammed with diners but service was a little slow and on reflection a little more formal than it had been for the lunch we had consumed.
Starters chosen ranged from a Spinach Soup that had a good vibrant colour and came garnished with supposedly soft poached egg in it (the egg alas was over cooked) A salad of smoked duck was also a bit of a disappointment. Some thin slices of duck were buried under a large mound of salad and for the price charged I felt all a bit of a rip off! My crab salad was ok with some nice fresh white crab meat and then topped with some mayonnaise and a mound of slaw – all pretty basic and at nearly £9 not mind blowing in culinary terms just the price.
Our main course choices ranged from a Fillet Steak listed on the menu as “Cow” that caused much confusion with the foreign contingent of the party who were not familiar with the terminology. Two had the Cod dish that was well executed and my choice was a confit pork belly that to put it mildly was awful. I was in an awkward situation in that to complain would have been a bit churlish as the friends were likely to be picking up the tab (not that I was expecting them to) and it could have put a dampener on the evening. My pork belly was so undercooked and tough to eat. It was just poorly executed but I persevered. It could have been so much better.
Finally we decided on a couple of cheese plates and one of the party had a dessert “Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate” It was OK but again nothing spectacular. The cheeses were alas fridge cold a good Kentish Blue a Lincolnshire Poacher Cheddar (Why not the more local Winterdale Shaw?) and a soft unnamed one by the staff that was ripe but for me a shade too mild tasting. An over acidic chutney and some good biscuits.
It was in no way mind blowing and staff were to put it mildly a touch patronising in the way they served us. I certainly felt less comfortable and overall thought the food had a pretension to it in comparison to what we were served for lunch and was all just a big disappointment. It certainly has not made me think I want to rush back and when I compare it to where we then ate the next night it could be described as chalk and cheese. More on that in my next post!