Taste of the Garden Showcasing the real food hero at Rudding Park
Latin for kitchen garden, Horto Restaurant uses seasonal ingredients from the real food hero at Rudding Park – our Kitchen Garden so the menu is dictated by nature, the skill of the Gardener and the flair of the Chef.
Callum Bowmer, Horto Head Chef gives us an insight into how one of the most popular dishes made it onto the Horto Restaurant menu.
Thanks to the expertise and dedication of Emma Pugh our Kitchen Gardener and the team, Rudding Park Kitchen Garden provides us with the most incredible source of home-grown produce on our doorstep, and I really wanted to introduce a dish to showcase the garden. Where to start?
The pudding of course!
I was keen to devise a pudding that was really fresh with lots of flavours to excite the tastebuds. Over 500 different herbs, salads, vegetables, edible flowers and fruits are grown in the garden so we can create dishes packed full of flavour with quality heritage varieties and fruits best enjoyed within minutes of picking.
Of course, this means working with the seasons, but that is very much at the heart everything Horto stands for.
In April when I started to work on this dish we had the last of the forced rhubarb and angelica was plentiful; so we devised an angelica ice cream and poached the rhubarb in rose syrup using roses from the garden. The combination of the two flavours worked really well together.
Next for some ‘grassy’ and floral flavours - elderflower, violet, sweet cicely, primrose, bronze fennel and mint.
We create herb crisps with a hint of mint, tweaking the quantity of the mint, so as not to overpower the crisps adding sweet cicely and bronzed fennel to balance the flavours.
Texture also plays a key part in any dish and we wanted some ‘crunch’. We toyed between an elderflower meringue or violet meringue – finally settling on the violet meringue – and introduced the elderflower as a lovely, light elderflower foam which finished the dish off perfectly.
First impressions count and one of the first things you notice about any dish is presentation and colour. Taste of the Garden showcases beautiful delicate pops of colours from the green of the ice cream and the sweet cicely, to the pink of the rhubarb the violet or the meringue to the white and yellow of the primrose.
For me, it’s always nerve wracking when a dish gets its first outing on the menu. Taste of the Garden was a real labour of love and I wanted to do the Kitchen Garden justice. The dish first hit the menu on a Friday night and part of me did wonder whether guests would like it – was it a ‘marmite’ dish? Was I going to have to come in early on Saturday morning and start again? I was relieved to find guests seemed to love it and the fact they could walk across to the Kitchen Garden to see the inspiration behind the dish really brings it to life, so much so its stint on the menu continues with a seasonal makeover for…
With the change of season, gooseberries replace the rhubarb, lemon verbena replace the angelica, whilst lavender replaces the violet. Again, we went through numerous tastings to get the balance of flavours just right.
A gooseberry compote takes the place of the poached rhubarb and also uses the first batch of honey from the Rudding Park bees which can be found in The Nuttery, a wildflower meadow next to our Kitchen Garden.
Peter Banks, our Managing Director is a keen beekeeper and actually brought the hives from his home to Rudding Park so I am learning more and more and his passion and excitement for bees is really rubbing off on me – I have definitely caught the beekeeping bug.
So much so, we are going to introduce a new dish to showcase the honey. Again, we are in nature's hands so, it’ll be a ‘limited edition’ for a three week stint, so watch this space.
Horto Restaurant is open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday (7pm with last orders 8.30pm) must be pre-booked and we ask that you let us know of any dietary requirements at the time of booking.