Chef’s Table

It’s a scallop time of year in the kitchens at Raby Hunt where menus are changing with the seasons

We headed off to the slopes for some January skiing – find me a chef who doesn’t need to run away in January.

We flew to Geneva from Newcastle then about an hour’s journey to our destination. Weather brilliant, great big blue skies and a lot of fun getting Harriett on a toboggan for the first time. I’d planned a trip to Ferme de Montagne, a well-known restaurant in Les Gets run by two English guys. It is in an amazing setting – it was good but didn’t blow me away.

We did enjoy a lot of raclette, fondue and about as much après-ski as you get with a baby on board. Les Gets is a great place for families though. I really recommend it.   


In season

morelsHere at Raby Hunt I love the change of season and that start of new ingredients, more colour on the plates – we’ve had violas on there already. Dishes become that bit lighter and there’s a good choice of seasonal new ingredients popping up. A real favourite of mine are morel mushrooms, definitely my favourite for this time of year. Early ones are really expensive but they get cheaper by the end of March.

They have such a distinctive earthy flavour and colour and they work like a sponge, absorbing other flavours. I poach them to keep them moist – I am serving them in a dish with suckling pig, celeriac, morels, miso and Japanese spice.


Sweet scallops

It is a great time for scallops. I get them from Guy Grieve who runs the Ethical Shellfish Company in Mull with his wife Juliet. Working as a scallop diver, Guy was shocked to see the damage that is being done to our fragile marine environment by invasive fishing methods. He set up his fishing company with a difference, which pledges to support fishermen using sustainable methods.

I like his scallops because they are really sweet and light – they don’t spend time sitting in salt pools before being sent out. At their freshest, scallops are really sweet. Cooking them is so simple. Just pan fry them on a high heat to get some colour, add butter and a dash of lemon juice to make an emulsion in the pan. Just brown on one side then turn them over and remove the pan from the heat, they will cook through with the residual heat.

Really nice served with some spring English peas and chorizo. ethicalshellfishcompany.co.uk


Local hero

We love Mordon Blue, a cheese from Parlour Made near Sedgefield. Village Farm Dairy is a family farm run by Neil and Carol Peacock. The dairy herd consists of 120 Holstein /Friesian cows, all of which were all born on the farm. The couple decided to diversify into handmade artisan cheese made using their own farm assured milk. The fresh morning’s milk is piped no further than 20 feet from the milking parlour into the cheese vat in the new purpose- built cheese dairy, where cheesemaking begins.

This is very much a family business – Neil milks the cows, Carol makes the cheese with children Joe and Georgia helping out on weekends and school holidays. Mordon Blue was a Bronze Medal winner 2012 at the British Cheese Awards, a blue-veined soft cheese with a mild flavour and creamy texture. This young cheese will also develop a stronger flavour over time if preferred. parlourmade.co.uk


Been there

yorebridge-houseA trip to Yorebridge House at Bainbridge in the dales was really memorable – as a great destination that really feels away from it all and as somewhere good to eat. The setting is beautiful – we bubbled away in a room with a hot-tub and amazing river views.  Daniel Shotton is head chef there, making a real impact with the food.  I loved his Gressingham duck with purple sprouting broccoli, confit duck gizzards and duck leg boulangere. Also good – Whitby crab with pickled mouli, compressed apple and boiled quail’s egg.


Get away

Edinburgh is a favourite city of mine and such a great place to eat. If you’re hopping on a train head for these signature dishes.

Posh nosh. Castle Terrace – try the ox tongue with spelt risotto
Pub. Scran & Scallie – Tom Kitchin’s Wagyu burger
Bistro. L’escargot Bleu – the ultimate beef tartare prepared at your table


Enjoying a glass of

Sake works really well with chocolate desserts. Our Siraume Japanese rice wine is proving a hit with diners who like something a bit different with dessert.


In the kitchen

Here at Raby Hunt we are unrealistically excited about moving from our container crate kitchen to something resembling a proper restaurant kitchen after getting planning permission. It will double our cooking space – and we’ll get the big green egg barbecue into the kitchen  rather than outside. I love the thing – we use it to finish off the meat and fish and just give that slight charred flavour to dishes.


And we’re off

beadnellLooking forward to some time out at the Northumberland coast soon.

We have a family caravan up at Beadnell which is one of the best places in the world – I love heading to Seahouses for supplies of crabs, lobsters and a kipper or two.

Bib Gourmand With Harriett Close

harriot11So I found myself at a hotel called The Samling in somewhere they call the Lakes. It looks like someone’s house from the outside and I thought it might be a bit whispery and not at all the place where youngsters like me hang out.

Think Daddy was a bit anxious about this too – he even offered to put us in a room on our own for dinner if my presence was too much for the other guests (even with my best dress on). Happily that didn’t happen and we were given a very warm welcome in the dining room by the staff (who were pretty young themselves) and other diners.

I had beetroot. ‘Flavours of beetroot’. What a lovely, pretty colour that food is! Not the perfect finger food though – I bet you can imagine the state of the best dress now.

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