We tune in to 2016 celebrating an amazing year at Raby Hunt with a healthy awards list that has seen us have our most successful year yet. Not that you can ever rest on those laurels.
But, our roll call this year makes the team happy! 51 in the National Restaurant Awards, 1 Michelin star in the top 50, in the Good Food Guide for the first time and 17 in the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Restaurants.
We’re getting to grips with our new development nights at the Raby Hunt and will be holding them every month. We get guest chefs along to share the cooking and bring their own ideas for dishes – it also gives my chefs encouragement and the chance to experiment a bit.
These development nights are popular in London and happen often, not so much here in the North East, which is why I am keen to get them going. The last one we did was with the folks from Smokin’ Goat, who did some fabulous barbecue dishes such as scallops in their cell cooked in the embers and served with a chilli blended nam sauce.
We did a truffle menu for another development night with white truffle in season. These truffles are about £2,800 a kilo at the minute – one of the most expensive ingredients going. We bought 100g and used the truffle with a raw beef dish and squab pigeon dish and made amazing barbecue potatoes. We made potato cons, filled them with a potato foam, then put truffle and oil over.
We had chef Dave Coulson from Peace & Loaf join us and the next development night will be on January 31, when we have Tommy Banks from the Black Swan at Oldstead coming along. We’re going to cook small plates and will do seven each.
The future is orange
For 2016 we’re bringing in a new sommelier Jim Conway and are taking a new look at the wine list. We’re particularly excited about Orange wines, which are having something of a moment of their own.
They are so named because of their colour rather than their contents; white wines made using the same principles and methods as red. The skins are left on, producing tannins and leaving the wine spicier, and more herby than most. Made by small, dedicated producers, our favourite is the La Maceration du Soula Vin du Fenouilledes.
I’ve been thinking about my best meals of the last year – the most memorable food moments.
So here goes – my top five of 2015…
5 The Fat Duck. Heston’s place re-visted and a standout dessert was part of the whole ‘day out’ menu. Botrytis Cinerea was the ‘floating cloud’: Saffron, fenugreek, citrus Roquefort cheese, chocolate and pear. Amazing and maybe in my top ten dishes ever.
4 The two Michelin star Araki in London has only nine seats. We ate tuna tartare and it was front of us – they made their own mayo as we sat there and minced the tuna then served it with white truffle.
3 The macaroon starter at Restaurant Frantzen in Stockholm. A combination of saffron, foie gras and date.
2 At Hedone, London, one of my favourite places. Devon lobster with hollandaise, coral and potato mousseline.
1 Naranjo en Flor from Mirazur, a two Michelin star restaurant outside of Monaco. An amazing desert made from orange blossom, saffron, orange sorbet and almond milk
Bib Gourmand with Harriett Close
Here you see me at one of my favourite haunts, Pizza Express with my cousin Thomas. You can’t eat Michelin food every day after all, can you? And there are no lollies for pudding in daddy’s place.
I had exciting Christmas food though (especially the chocolate tree decorations) – something called a poussin all for me – it is a small bird for a small person to eat. Tasty.