On the farm
We’re taking a breather at this time of year. Beetroot, squashes, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac and carrots are all in season, as well as game birds like partridge and pheasant from Taywell Farm in Goudhurst, but after a long, busy summer, we’ve stopped planting, and are just tending to and looking after what we’ve got – such as our garlic – before the next harvest in spring.
We produced four times’ the amount of food in our second year compared to our first, so now that the season’s over and the weather’s too cold for germination, it’s time to stop growing, and let the farm destress, relax and refocus, looking at what we’ll be growing in 2020, and how we want to develop going forward.
Meanwhile, we’re also using ingredients we preserved earlier this year, including fermented white asparagus, pickled blueberries and beetroots, and strawberry jam from the warmer months!
Will’s ingredient of
the month: Celeriac
Celeriac is one of my favourite things to cook with. It’s a variety of celery that was first cultivated in the Mediterranean Basin, and is now widely available in Northern Europe, North Africa, Siberia, Southwest Asia and North America.
At its best from September to April, celeriac is often referred to as an unsung hero of the vegetable world – it’s knobbly, odd-shaped and not overly pretty to look at, but has a subtle, celery-like flavour with nutty overtones that are super-tasty, and work really well in slow-cooked dishes, or as a classic French remoulade.
Recipe: Quince chutney
This is a lovely chutney that we serve in the autumn with local Kent and Sussex cheeses such as Burwash Rose and Kentish Blue…
Makes: 4 large jars
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
6 large quinces
500ml white wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
Juice and zest 2 oranges
Half a teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
- Put all the ingredients, except the quinces, in a pan, and simmer to reduce by two thirds
- Peel, core and chop the quinces into bitesize pieces, add to the vinegar pan, and cook until soft
- While still hot, spoon into sterilised kilner or jam jars with lids and store. The chutney will mature as it ages, so try to leave for a few months, and eat within a year
Don’t forget to book a table with us for Christmas! We’re taking reservations for our seasonal December menu, and we highly recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment over the festive period. Give us a ring on 01892 890105, email email@example.com, or click here to secure your space.
Passionate about food? Advocate of craft beer? Lover of artisan spirits? Excited about all things wine? We have the job for you! We’re recruiting for full and part-time roles, offering competitive salaries, staff trips and incentives for enthusiastic, passionate people looking to take the next step in their career. A love for modern British cuisine, craft beers and wines is crucial, and Rosette/Michelin experience preferred, but not essential. Send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
Will Devlin on… Food trends
Once upon a time, almost every great chef was French, and their methods and techniques were the way of doing things. But for me, there are more than just French classics to learn, and I think there’s now a lot more focus and energy concentrated on new and exciting countries.
People are looking to places like South America and Nordic countries to see how they’re experimenting with flavours, and because of the internet, cookbooks, TV and social media, all the exciting things happening around the world have become so much more accessible.
You don’t have to box yourself off or categorise yourself; instead, you can learn and teach yourself, and play around and have fun experimenting in the kitchen. That’s so exciting, because you’re not replicating anything – you’re just using ingredients to create a dish that’s more natural and reflective of who you are.
A day in the life of
The Small Holding
At The Small Holding, we start work at 8am each day. While our cleaner gets the place nice and tidy, the chefs will be prepping for the first service, the farm will be tended to, and front of house will check wines, lay tables, clean cutlery, crockery and glassware, fold napkins, and make sure everything is customer-ready. At 11.30am, we’ll have our service briefing to discuss the menu, guest requirements and wine pairings, before our first diners arrive at 12pm.
After a busy lunch service, we’ll clean down and repeat the process again for dinner, with our evening briefing at 5.30pm, ahead of the first booking at 6pm. Cleaning down and tidying up finishes between 11pm and midnight, ready to start again at 8am the next day, with everyone bringing their A-game for 16 hours a day in everything we do!
Where we’ve been
We’ve been in New York this month! First, we visited Eleven Madison Park – with three Michelin stars, chef Daniel Humm’s restaurant was just as wicked as we’d hoped. Not only did we enjoy some of the best food in the world, but we were also invited to meet the team in the kitchen, who couldn’t have been more welcoming. Next up was Blue Hill Farm for lunch and a tour, which was an amazing experience to see a project of that scale from chef Dan Barber in the flesh, while Jason Atherton’s Clocktower completely blew us away too.
‘Go and tell’: The Pure
The whole staff went and visited Tom Cunningham and the Pure Meat team recently, to get a better idea of what they do and how they work. We got to spend the day with their Romney lamb and Tamworth pigs, and learn a lot about their sustainable farming practices – these guys are some seriously cool people doing some absolutely banging stuff, so make sure you check them out!
What people are saying
Testimonial: Graeme Anderson, Sankey’s Fishmongers
“I’ve known Will Devlin for nearly 10 years now. It’s been great to see his passion for the industry, while always remaining humble, even now that he’s hit the big time! It’s an honour to be part of his journey by supplying The Small Holding.”
What we’re drinking
Matt’s beer of the month
Cellar Head’s Pole Dancer was a favourite at the bar last month. This 4.5% ABV green hop pale ale is brewed using Strang’s #7 hops from Little Scotney Farm in Lamberhurst; Epic hops from Hoad’s Farm in Sandhurst; and Cascade hops from Tony Redsell in Boughton-Under-Blean. Due to quick oxidation, green hops must be used within a few hours of picking, so that they’re at their best during the harvest.
Sally’s wine of the month
We’ve now got Westwell Wines in stock, including their delicious Ortega Amphora 2017! This still English white wine is made over in Ashford, where it’s fermented and aged in a terracotta amphora, giving it deep honeyed notes, and floral aromas from the Ortega grapes.
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© WILL AND MATT DEVLIN