We’re reeling, in a good way, from finding The Raby Hunt at number 26 in the Sunday Times Top 100 restaurants. Great accolade for us, we knew we were in the running but to sit at 26 was a real triumph for the team – not least our pot washer who won the kitchen sweepstake with his spot-on bet! I celebrated on the Sunday the paper came out with lunch at The Black Swan at Oldstead which is a favourite of mine and had a night at Yorebridge House, another great place. It’s been a few weeks of celebration for us after retaining our Michelin star.
The inspector said, “there’s a new wave of self-taught chefs in the country and we’re very fond of James Close at The Raby Hunt”. That will certainly have an impact for us. We’ve had a celebration at Cafe 21 in the private dining room for everyone and now it’s a case of back to work and answering the ringing phones – enjoying it while it lasts!
A name check for Gareth Rayner at the Coach House at Middleton Lodge where we had a good Sunday lunch recently, it’s nice to see new places appearing in the area and to support them. Winter’s setting in and in the kitchen we’re bringing out the pickles and preserves we’re been producing this year with the vegetable harvest.
We make our own vinegars – such as blackberry vinegar – and team these with game dishes. We also use a system of vegetable preservation called ‘clamping’ – a throwback to World War Two, when householders produced vegetables to cope with the effects of rationing. You basically put the veg back in soil – flavour is enhanced and you have a good supply in the winter months.
My latest eating adventures in the North East have included a trip to Amble where we were impressed by The Boathouse – nice to see a place serving the freshest fish by the sea. I enjoyed razor clams, squid and seabream cooked in the wood-fired oven.
Cosmopolitan with a Raby Hunt twist
We make our own vodka at Raby Hunt – we like to use a good vodka as a base, one that’s nice and creamy – Cold River from Maine is a favourite. Citrus vodka is one to try – get the zest of two of each lemons, limes and oranges and add them to the vodka then leave for four days. Job done. Likewise for a cranberry vodka – simmer 100g cranberries and 30g sugar for about an hour then pass through a sieve to create a super sweet and sour syrup to add to vodka. Raby Cosmo 2 shots vodka 1 shot syrup 1 shot triple sec Shake like hell, add a slither of orange
zest – and sip.
Merry Christmas from the Raby Hunt
Partridge Sausage Roll
We’re busy developing winter snacks – this is a recipe for a traditional favourite with a twist!
One shallot, diced
Two garlic cloves
200g sliced leek
20ml double cream
200g belly pork
40g diced bacon
Meat from one partridge
Salt and pepper
Ready-made puff pastry
Finely dice or coarsely mince the meats. Not so they are mushy though. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Lightly sauté the leeks and add the double cream, heat but don’t boil. Remove from heat and season. Roll out a square of puff pastry, 2mm thick. Add a layer of creamed leeks then the meat mixture. Turn the pastry over and seal the edges, wash with egg and score the top. Cook for 20 minutes, 200C.
Bib Gourmand with Harriett Close
I’ve discovered that I’m a spa babe. We stayed at Rockliffe Hall where I was splash happy for a few hours with mummy and daddy.
We had nice food in the golf clubhouse – fishcakes and cheese soufflé. Yummy.
I also liked watching the fishing boats at Amble and eating squid – my new teeth are very good at chewing!