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Archive for April, 2013

For the last couple of months I have been receiving a weekly veg box. This is something I have tried a few times and until now I have not been too impressed. The previous suppliers I found were a bit pricey for what you got and the quality wasn’t brilliant. One supplier even gave me a free trial and sent me a box of veg which was half rotten. Not a great sales pitch there. Seeing a tweet from a friend who sells cheese & local made pies I popped over to see him at a local food & craft fair. I was pointed in the direction of a veg stall and had a chat with one of the owners of Rocket & Rhubarb. I was impressed by the quality of the veg they had on show, especially the kale which was a vibrant green, unlike the ready packed stuff you get in the supermarkets. I also liked the prices, the veg boxes start as low as £8 a week and there’s no sign up, no committment, no contract. You can let them know when you do and don’t want veg, add items, change items, the most flexible scheme I’ve seen locally.

So I picked up some veg and put my name down and havent looked back since. In fact I get quite excited about receiving the latest box and I never look to see what I’m getting, I like the surprise. This all suits how I like to cook, walk into the kitchen, look at what I have and make something. So a box of unknown veg each week is perfect for me, I see whats delivered and let my mind become inspired. I especially enjoy using up the remaining veg before the week is over and the next box is delivered. It’s also handy that there is a veg stall local to me that I can call upon should I need any extra ingredients.

These are a few things that I’ve made since receiving the boxes.

Tuna steak with grilled courgettes and a courgette and carrot salad in a lime, chilli and honey dressing.

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Pork chop with potato, swede & turnip.

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Pork belly, savoy and local free range egg

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Pork belly, parsnip crisps, braised white cabbage.

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Carrot, potato & onion rosti, kale, duck breast and rhubarb sauce

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Pork Loin, savoy, leeks & a spicy beetroot & apple sauce

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For details on the veg boxes please visit Rocket and Rhubarb at www.rocketandrhubarb.co.uk or follow them on Twitter @Rocketrhubarb

Special thanks to Richard, The Cheese and Pie Man for pointing me in the right direction @CheeseAndPieMan

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It’s funny sometimes where a simple discussion can lead. Over a year ago as my Wife and I were looking at where to hold our 40th birthday meal. We put our Twitter friends to work and a chef replied suggesting the restaurant where he is Head Chef. Whilst we liked the idea and the venue, it was a bit far to get everyone to. However, the restaurant in question stayed in my mind and I have been finding an excuse to make the trip to Sussex. The Chef that tweeted me all that time ago was Matt Gillan and the restaurant is The Pass. Finally this year, we made the trip and even booked up to stay at the South Lodge Hotel where The Pass is situated.

What a good decision this was and why did we wait so long. When we arrived at the hotel is was like a different world. Just a few minutes from the Motorway but surrounded by the beautiful British countryside. We felt relaxed even as we parked up. Entering the building takes you into instant luxury and class. The staff greet you in a professional and friendly manner and they had the pleasure of telling us we had been upgraded to a Master Suite. This was a better start than we could imagine, the suite is massive. I don’t think I have stayed in a full suite like this before. We were taken into the lounge area, shown into the bedroom and then shown the bathroom. Someone, me, got very excited to find a TV in the bathroom.

We were also greeted by Minty the Lamb who was sitting on our bed. Minty’s job is to either sit and watch TV with you or to sit outside your door telling staff not to disturb you. There’s also a DVD library which I think is an excellent touch, although our choice of film to watch during the afternoon was a bit dodgy. I say our choice, okay it was my choice. It is little touches like this that make a difference I think between a good hotel and an excellent hotel. We settled down to watch our DVD after a light lunch in the bar where I had a superb fish finger sandwich and a great local beer. All in all it was a very relaxing afternoon.

Minty The Lamb

Minty The Lamb

Early evening we had a refreshing G&T in the room as we got ready and then headed to The Pass. We were shown to our table, I of course sat so I was facing the kitchen directly and my Wife had a TV screen to watch. You actually get to see the action for the Pass Kitchen and that of Camellia, the hotels second restaurant. We decided on the six course tasting menu and the wine flight to go with it. There was a lovely couple sat on the table next to me and it almost became a table of four as we chatted which shows how relaxed the atmosphere is.

Below are the courses, minus one which I forgot to take a photo of as I got a bit over excited about the food. Thank you to the couple beside us who kept reminding me to take a photo before we started each course (but why didn’t you make sure course 5 was included?)

Roasted celeriac, cheese beigne, muscatel vinegar, served with Nyetimber classic cuvee 2008

Roasted celeriac, cheese beignet, muscatel vinegar, served with Nyetimber classic cuvee 2008

Shin of beef, horseradish, sprouts, almonds, served with Crozes Hermitage La Matinere 2010

Shin of beef, horseradish, sprouts, almonds, served with Crozes Hermitage La Matinere 2010

Pollock, hazelnut crust, clam chowder, baked salsify, served with Chardonnay Veramonte Reserva 2010

Pollock, hazelnut crust, clam chowder, baked salsify, served with Chardonnay Veramonte Reserva 2010

Breast & leg of chicken, onion textures, mushroom cream, served with Valpollicella Classico, Bolla 2011

Breast & leg of chicken, onion textures, mushroom cream, served with Valpollicella Classico, Bolla 2011

There should be a picture of a rum pannacotta with banana and marzipan here but it was so good I ate it before taking a picture.

Lemon tart, passion fruit, green tea meringue, served with Pineau de Charentes Vielle Reserve Or Cognac

Lemon tart, passion fruit, green tea meringue, served with Pineau de Charentes Vielle Reserve Or, Cognac

The food at The Pass is exquisite. Every dish was cooked to perfection and there wasn’t one ingredient out of place. My favourite course was the shin of beef, I could eat that all day long. It was interesting with dessert to have a cognac to go with it. I am not a cognac drinker but have to say this was an excellent pairing. I did volunteer to help with their next food and wine matching or their search for new wines as I am just a nice chap and would do that for them. I await the call.

We had a great chat with Matt Gillan after the meal which ranged from how to keep a clean kitchen to Great British Menu and that there are too many chain restaurants in Chelmsford. I had to praise the kitchen and front of house staff, very friendly and everything ran smoothly, we really couldn’t fault anything about the meal, well apart from that it had to end.

Now we had the frills which is the five star hotel and our amazing suite. We’ve had the food from The Pass and I bet some of you are sitting there thinking “what about the Ferraris”. Well, there just happened to be a Rally taking place in nearby Horsham and many of the participants were staying at South Lodge. We had seen a couple the day before but were not prepared for the Friday morning as we walked back to our car. We walked up the path with our bags to our little 308 and were met with a sea of red. We had a wander around and chatted to one of the owners and stood there thinking just how much money was in that car park. It was a great way to finish of a lovely overnight stay.

Want one

Want one

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For more information on South Lodge Hotel and The Pass, please visit www.southlodgehotel.co.uk

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