Our Christmas lunch of 60-day-aged sirloin is a distant memory now, albeit a good one. Fantastic meat and nothing beats the flavour of the fat, unbelievably good. We aged the meat in our fridge at the restaurant and I am thinking of going for 80-day ageing next time and serving it at Raby Hunt.
At home for Christmas we also had a lovely black pig acorn-fed ham from Spain to complete the gluttony. This year is going to be all about the expansion of our kitchen with a new extension to our very cramped space. It will mean we can get to work with all kinds of gadgetry and really up our game when it comes to technical standards.
January gives us a bit of a breather at Raby Hunt. We’re heading to the slopes at Gstaad and I’m looking forward to eating at Restaurant Sommet at The Alpina Hotel, Gstaad where Marcus Lindner is head chef with a Michelin star. We’ve been out and about eating in London in the past few weeks with some good and some less good memories.
Riding high was a meal at Clove Club in Shoreditch, home of the famous buttermilk chicken (pictured below), which never disappoints. This place is riding high as a cool place to go. It has it right though, relaxed dining with the right level of service. Service still needs to be impeccable even somewhere modern and laid-back. This year in the column, I’m going to be giving restaurants marks out of ten (I always do that anyway when I eat out), starting with a 7 for Clove Club.
But I have to say, my visit to Gordon Ramsay in Hospital Road only rates a 3 this time. Dover sole was only OK, when it should be amazing and overall it felt like a very stuffy experience. The Ramsay classic langoustine, lobster and salmon ravioli was spot on though. On our way to Ramsay we stopped off at Maltby Street Market, Ropewalk which is in SE1.
It’s a gourmet gem, well worth a visit. It’s a lively street market with a combination of stalls, under-arch shops, pop-up bars and eateries. There was a guy cooking flame-grilled oysters with a blowtorch and we liked the look of Tozino, a tapas bar, Spanish grocers and ham carvery. There are good coffee stalls and impressive gin cocktails at the pop-up Sparrow Bar put on by small-batch London gin distillers, Little Bird Gin.
If you like your markets closer to home, which makes sense anyway, you have to take a look at Grainger Market. It’s a while since we’ve been and we were impressed by the energy and food vibe of the place now that more people are coming to know it and opening up there. Mouth still watering from the effects of the Nan Bei Chinese dumpling stall. Amazing taste of fresh dumplings made before your eyes.
Really zinging spice and herb blends mixed with the Chinese cabbage and pork. It’s a traditional Chinese ‘snack bar’ with jiaozi dumplings and filled buns called baozi. Best head there with a hungry heart and mind – you can really get your fill beneath the market’s grand ceiling as you wander the stalls. Pick up Lindisfarne oysters or whatever’s cooking before your eyes as special of the day at the seafood stall – the smells are amazing. French Oven bakery has won awards for its patisserie and has a mouth-watering selection on offer and great artisan breads.
Nice to share something from there with coffee from local roaster, Pumphrey’s before filing your bags at the Mmm deli.
Our Raby Hunt Christmas ‘do’ had a flavour of the Alps even if there was no snow on the ground. Christmas jumpers were out for our Swiss raclette dining experience. It’s a dish to linger over and we had plates of the oozing cheese with loads of lovely pickles and potato.
On 11 March, New Zealander Fleur McCree of Marlborough-based winery Little Beauty, will be hosting a wine evening with us. Who doesn’t love NZ wines and hers are amazing. Try her range of wines with a tasting menu. Sauvignon Blanc, more-ish Pinot Gris and sublime Pinot Noir.
The year starts with a trip to Northcote’s Obsession Food Festival organised by Nigel Haworth where some great three-Michelin chefs are cooking, can’t wait for that. I’ve got a trip to San Francisco planned and I’m also interested to see how the food scene will change in this country. It’s a bit slower going in the North East but certainly the whole Scandinavian food ethos will continue to grow.
I think we might see a return to more classic techniques and refinement in cooking and also it will be good to see more little places opening up from people who do things simply but well. Close to home, I’m looking forward to the new chef at Rockliffe Hall bringing some Michelin pedigree to the area. The more good chefs there are, the more reason for food enthusiasts to head up here.
Bib Gourmand with Hariett Close
Santa brought me a kitchen. I am now practising some tricks I’ve seen Daddy do in his kitchen, mixing, stirring and sometimes even shouting. Favourite toy was my new carry-can rescued from Dad’s kitchen where it holds something called olive oil. Like it?
At New Year they wanted me to stay quietly upstairs in bed but I knew there was some kind of big party going on and I wanted to be there. I was allowed to stay and no-one minded, they all seemed very jolly.