We kicked off our 2019 Guest Chef series with a bang - quite literally, in fact. Coming all the way from Amsterdam, we hosted Julian Tailleur and Timothy Laight. Known for their open fire and smoky cooking style, the pair joined us on the farm a week before the big meal to hunt and forage for their ingredients. The cooking duo met in the kitchen of Amsterdam's famous Restaurant Entrepot, where all of the food is sourced within the Netherlands and all of the meat served is wild. Entrepot's strict ethos pushes chefs to think outside of the box, creating new flavours to replace classic foreign ingredients such as black pepper and lemons!
The first dish on the five course tasting menu was centred around one of our biggest pests on the farm, the squirrel. For a lot of people this would be the first time they had delved this way - it certainly asked of our guests to explore the boundaries of their comfort zones! This is exactly what Julian and Tim had intended. The squirrel was prepared in two ways: squirrel loin pastrami and squirrel rillettes. As someone who eats their fair share of squirrel, the idea of creating pastrami out of the loins was pure genius. They first brined the loins for a day, then smoked the delicate strips over the open fire with mono-species sweet chestnut and finished them with a blowtorch. The squirrel was served on Three Pools wooden plates with homemade rye crackers and smoked chestnut creme.
With seasonal and local produce being at the forefront, the next course showcased three types of kale from Paul (our local organic vegetable provider - paulsorganicveg.com). Julian feels very passionately about kale and the somewhat overlooked flavours it has to offer as a stand-alone vegetable. He lightly smoked the kale over the open fire with bay leaves, creating a deep flavour which I have not experienced before. Prior to the meal, we had come across a mothership of Wood Blewitts while foraging, which were incorporated into the dish with some other dehydrated parasols and ceps from eariler in the year.
Having known that the chaps wanted to cook mallard, I had been busy feeding our ponds for a few weeks before their arrival, hoping to lure in a few early winter ducks. Unfortunately, no matter how many fingers we crossed, the ducks didn't show up (such is wild food) and we had to get some from another local hunter. Having now gotten our wild mallard, Julian and Tim set on creating the main course. Using sourdough bread from the Angel Bakery, Julian made his signature sourdough sauce. This was drizzled over the smoked-to-perfection duck breast, whilst the duck legs were confited and incorporated into the celeriac dauphinoise. Utilising all of the duck, the livers transformed into smooth parfait, whilst foraged sloes were reduced down to partner as the cheekiest of dips.
Julian, being half French, was keen to incorporate a cheese dish into the menu. It is traditional to have a cheese dish after a meal but this one would have a Welsh twist. We sourced local goats cheese from Marches and goats milk from our next door neighbours goats farm. The penultimate dish was the perfect way to move from rich meat into delicate dessert. The goats milk was infused with hay from this years harvest - the unique flavour certainly had the guests guessing, but one of the local farmers who was dining got it instantly. Foraged pennywort from the stone walls of the farm was used as vibrant garnish.
Tim was saving one last trick up his sleeve for the grande finale - a vegetable based dessert! Having looked around the garden and spotted our huge Jerusalem artichoke plants, Tim was set on turning this upside down (excuse the pun) and creating an artichoke tarte tatin. Tim's creative genius didn't stop there; as soon as he caught wind of local stout made by Maddog brewery called Stouty McStoutFace, he embarked on the challenge of making stout ice cream. I can safely say that in all my time (a lot of which I have spent eating ice cream) I have not before come across a stout ice cream, and blow me sideways it was delicious. A perfect end to beautiful evening.
We would like to say a massive thank you to Julian and Tim for the time and creation put into this Guest Chef Evening. Also, a big thank you to everyone that came and supported the event. The night was a true exploration into another world of smoke-infused flavours and outstanding local produce. We look forward to putting on more food-focused events here at Three Pools - helping us to bring people closer to food and to farming.
Our next Guest Chef Evening will be in February 2020 with Bristol's famous Wilsons Restaurant.
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