The end of summer brings with it some good stuff from garden, moorland and hedgerow so we’re happy people here.
We’re very proud of a dish that lives up to its name. ‘Walled Garden 2015’ is a signature dish containing a mighty 40 different vegetables that I’ve been working on with veg-growing legend Ken Holland who is now sowing seeds of success in a major walled garden enterprise in Northumberland. The dish is really exciting, a piece of theatre in itself, arriving at the table on plates specially-made for us in Belgium – they are raised in height so it looks as though the salad is still growing. The ingredients include vegetables obviously but variations on them in the form of micro-veg, herbs, herb oils, purees etc.
Another new dish features lovely varieties of tomato that are in season at the minute. We have nine variations of tomato in different forms with black olive oil, ewes’ curd and caviar in the mix. It is also the game season. Not everyone is happy to see grouse on the menu but I think it is something we should be proud of – this is a great part of the world for grouse. We’ve been serving it since the glorious 12th. I serve it with kale and a ragu of the offal and girolles and with the leg slow-cooked.
Food and golf are the non-human loves of my life so I’ve been indulging in both over the summer. A highlight has been a stay at Cameron House on Loch Lomond where I managed to play some golf as well as eat at Martin Wishart’s restaurant. Stand-out dishes on his menu were bavette of beef with horseradish foam and onions and a langoustine dish with peppers.
While we were on the west coast, we took a trip to a restaurant called Inver on Loch Fyne. It is just getting on the radar of the food critics and is simply the best place I have eaten this year. The natural setting is fantastic and the food plays this out – ingredients from the land, sea and shore. Lunch might be a simple, fresh seafood from the waters outside, their own sourdough bread and homemade butter. Dinner is a fixed, four-course menu of modern, creative Scottish cooking and there’s a bar menu with stuff like super-fresh oysters, crab, langoustines and native meat and game in season.
I was really wowed by the place, definitely my find of the year. I nibbled on peas in their pod and fantastic corn on the cob with roasted chilli and delicious chicken wings. Suggest you make a visit! Still in Scotland, I was in Edinburgh where I found Timberyard, which I reckon will be getting a Michelin star this year.
This is another top find – some have described the place as ‘Nordic-Scottish’, my money’s on it for a star. It’s my latest best place in Edinburgh, a food favourite always. Natural flavours, great produce; a standout dish was quail with variations of beetroot and grirolles. Also rave-worthy was halibut with lobster and fennel.
At Timberyard the halibut was from Gigha Halibut, a great little supplier. Halibut is from a marine hatchery at Otter Ferry on Loch Fyne and the Isle of Gigha, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean is a good site for farming the fish with consistent quality and the sustainable credentials. Places like Scott’s, Mayfair and The Waterside use halibut from here on their menus. You can buy smoked halibut online from the site and there are ideas for recipes to try.
Take a trip
Had a nice lunch at The Black Swan at Oldstead near York recently, a consistently good place run by brothers Tommy and James Banks. They bought a farm near the pub and now are getting to grips with growing their own produce and rearing animals on it for the restaurant, which is a brilliant thing.
I love this notion of self-sufficiency – and on a far more gentle scale we’ve started doing it at Raby Hunt where I am the proud owner of the Urban Cultivator. It might look like a fridge (yes, it does) but it is where you can grow everything from peashoots to herbs and microveg with your own light source. It’s a Canadian product and we got it from Continental Chef Supplies in Peterlee. It’s our way of being able to have our own fresh food supplies on tap. We’ve got Ryan in charge of the green-fingered operation!
You know I spend a lot of time on the Northumberland coast. When not eating kippers, a game of golf is my thing – these are my top three courses:
3 Foxton Hall, 2 Bamburgh Castle, 1 Goswick – my favourite
Bib Gourmand with Harriett Close
It’s the time of year when I am officially allowed to get covered in mud. Daddy calls it foraging – I call it fun. I scamper in the damp grass picking mushroomy things that daddy sometimes ends up cooking for me. He is an expert and has a special knife and everything.
If we fill our baskets I get to eat my favourite thing for tea – pasta with mushrooms. Yum. I have to specially not tell anyone where our foraging wood is though.