The Guest Chef Evenings are a new series at Three Pools, where we collaborate with chefs that share the same passion for food and sustainable eating as we do.
We will be showcasing a different guest chef or chefs every month for the winter season. The evenings aim to bring together like-minded, food conscious people to experience different cooking styles, cuisines and atmospheres as we move through winter.
Originally lined up for April was guest chef Jack Richardson. However Jack had taken on a new restaurant in Coleshill only one week before the evening which, unfortunately, meant he had too much on his plate (excuse the pun) and could not go ahead. This, however, was not going to stop the show - we took the opportunity to take our kitchen back with the aim of serving permaculture food straight from the farm.
As you guys will already know farming and food is the focus of Three Pools. This Three Pools Guest Chef Takeover was a great chance to showcase some of the produce from the farm. It also happened to be one of the best times of year for wild food and we wanted to highlight what is growing on and around the farm naturally.
The tables were decorated with entirely edible plants; Lady’s smock, wild garlic flowers, Jack-by-the-hedge and Rosemary. Offering any excited guests a cheeky nibble with their wild nettle bellini.
The first course really encapsulated everything that wild food represents. We initially wanted to serve a local Usk Brown trout with creamed cheese and sour dough. We tried, quite literally, for hours on multiple days on the Usk trying to entice a wild brownie to feed at this notoriously difficult time of year. It was on the third day of trying, in the pouring rain, up to my chest in water that I decided enough is enough - we're going to have to come up with a new idea for the Amuse.
We loved the idea of homemade creamed cheese made with milk from our neighbour’s cows, so we thought long and hard about what we could incorporate into this initial cheese based dish. The sun was setting and it all began to fall into place. Rusty and I got out the .22 rifle and headed out into the night to bag a couple of Three Pools rabbits. It was a long evening with not much action until about 23:30 when Rusty (our new Three Pools team member), managed to take a big buck at around 55 yards. His first shot with a .22 and his first rabbit - congratulations!
We now had a new, deeper flavour and texture to work with. We floated some ideas around and in the end we realised the answer was staring us right in the face. We were going to put a twist on a classic dish and create a cold rarebit creamed cheese with the braised rabbit on top. We added mustard, Worcester sauce and Guinness to the homemade cream cheese and the result was perfection.
Wild Nettle Velouté
Nettles. The literal ‘Sting of Spring’ inspired our first starter. We chose to show these normally widely avoided plants in a new light and early spring is the time to do so. When picking nettles, you want to pick the smaller, newer and fresher heads. When nettles mature and turn to seed they become slightly toxic, so get out there and pick some now - while you can.
Another interesting fact about nettles is that the Romans brought them over and grew them to use as medicine and for food. So next time you ask yourselves 'what did the Romans ever do for us' you can add nettles to the list.
James had spent the morning walking the land with several big bin bags filling them with our finest and youngest nettles. We then begun the process of turning them into what would be a wild nettle velouté. Essentially a posh nettle soup, with origins from Germany. The difference between a soup and a velouté is that a velouté is strained, leaving you with a thinner and more refined version of soup. It's also important not to cook the velouté for too long, keeping all of the flavour and freshness in the bowl.
Orchard Yolk & Asparagus
Inspired by our recent purchase of 15 Warren hens, we wanted to showcase just how tasty o