Food Matters with Michael Wignall, Luxe Chef Columnist



At the end of last year, I was lucky enough to have been invited by Nespresso to visit the coffee plantations in Kenya. It was a fantastic experience and incredibly humbling to be able to visit the farmers who produce the brand’s coffee. I was able to see for myself the processes that coffee has to go through, before the finished product is made. We also got to experience authentic Kenyan food, made for us by the wonderful people who hosted us.


One ingredient that I love to work with is rhubarb – which isn’t just a summer ingredient. This time of year, we start to see forced Yorkshire rhubarb, which is beautiful. We poach ours and make our own version of rhubarb crumble – look out for this on the menu soon. Salsify is also a wonderful ingredient this time of year – as is liquorice. We use ours in a dessert that combines liquorice scented salsify, malt loaf (glazed with Hetton ale and malt) and toasted pearl barley ice-cream.

Liquorice brings back memories of when I was a child. Lots of people don’t like it, or at least think they don’t, but if you work with really good ingredients, there really is nothing better.


We have now completed the first phase of our refurbishment work to the bar area and have welcomed the addition of four new beautiful bedrooms. We’ve kept all the wonderful old features of the existing building, but added lots of modern elements to it and we’re really happy with the outcome. We hope our guests are, too.

We’re also delighted to have been included in this year’s Top 50 Gastropubs for a second year, which is a considerable accolade.



Malt loaf, malt Styrofoam, buckwheat custard, salsify and poached pear

Serves 8

Malt styrofoam >>

500g mighty malt
2.5g hyfoamer
5g xantham gum
50g sugar

Place the mighty malt and hyfoamer into a mixer bowl and set to a medium speed with a whisk attachment. Mix the sugar and the xantham gum together, then slowly add to the mighty malt mixture.
Keep on a medium speed for 12 minutes. When finished, transfer to a dehydrator tray and dehydrate for a minimum of two days.


Malt loaf and matte glaze >>

150g hot black tea
175g malt extract
85g dark muscovado sugar
300g mixed, chopped dry fruit (a 50/50 mix of raisins and dates)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the glaze..
100g malt extract
75g tea

Add malt extract, sugar, chopped fruit and tea into a bowl and mix until combined. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. Fold flour (sieved) into the wet mixture little by little until combined.

Add the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda at the last minute, mix well, then pour the mix into a piping bag. Pipe into moulds and smooth off the tops with an angled palette knife.

Cook at 140C for 15 minutes. While in the oven, add the malt glaze ingredients into a pan and heat up. When the malt leaves are out of the oven, use a pastry brush to brush the glaze on and evenly coat.

Turn out the moulds, coat in the glaze and leave to cool.


Poached pears >>

2 litres of water
660g sugar
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of 1 lemon
5g citric acid
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla pod
4 x William or Passe Crassane pears

Add all the ingredients, apart from the pears, to a pan and bring to a light simmer. Peel the pears neatly and remove the bottom stalk. Place the pears into the poaching liquor, then cover with greaseproof paper, so that the pears are fully covered. Cook until soft, then leave in the liquor to cool completely.


Buckwheat custard >>

200g buckwheat
1kg crème excellence
200g egg yolks
70g sugar
4.5g pectin x58

Put the buckwheat on a tray and place in a heated oven, at 180C until dark golden in colour. It’s important that you roast the buckwheat enough or it will absorb the cream and will alter the recipe.

While this is in the oven, add the crème excellence into a pan and start heating it on the stove. Once warm, add the sugar and pectin x58 mix until fully combined. Bring this to the boil, then add the hot buckwheat, whisking continuously. Pass the mixture through a sieve to get rid of the buckwheat seeds. Cling film the mixture and set in the fridge overnight.


Bitter chocolate crumb >>

400g dark chocolate callets
20g cocoa powder

Place the chocolate on to a tray with a silicone mat and put into a 180C oven. Cook until the chocolate starts breaking up like a crumb, when moved with a pallet knife. Once the chocolate is ready, cool slightly, then dust with cocoa powder until covered. Break up the whole mix with a palette knife, while the mix is still warm to get a crumb consistency. Leave to cool completely.


Salisfy in liquorice >>

250g Long, thin salsify
10g liquorice compound/flavour (if this is not available, one stick of good quality liquorice will be fine)

Working quickly, peel the salsify until white, remove the top and the bottom and peel down to the size of a pen. Cut into equal lengths, place into a vac pac bag with a quarter teaspoon of liquorice. Seal and cook at 96C in a steamer, or in a water bath, for 40 minutes. Refresh in ice water.



Pipe 3-4 small points of the buckwheat custard on to your plate, in differing sizes. Lightly warm the malt loaf in the oven for 1 minute, then put in the centre of the plate.

Cut the salsify into 5-6 differing sizes and place on the plate liberally. Slice the pear and place by the side of the malt loaf.

Lastly, cut the Styrofoam and place on either side of the loaf and serve immediately.