A long ol’ winter….

20161231_110928The month of January has certainly passed us by quick. I hope there wasn’t to many of you with post Christmas blues… I know for sure that alot of us chefs will be relieved that it is over. I personally love it, the whole build up  through December. Christmas parties coming in, people out shopping and carolling – it’s a fantastic time of the year. Yes I’m one of these people who has the dec’s up at the beginning of December with the outside of my house twinkling in fairy lights. But, alas, it’s done now for another 325 days. New Year was another busy night for us at The Dolphin. It saw us transform into a 1920’s soiree. Guests came head to toe in the clobber to suit the decade with the ladies looking fabulous in their feather boas. Never to stay quiet for long at The Dolphin we were once again asked to provide the catering for T&A Hotel Collection at The Country Club. A selection of hot goodies took their place on the buffet table. Grilled salmon fillet with roasted courgette, peppers and olives. Maybe some Moroccan style pork meatballs with giant cous-cous. The showstopper was the BBQ beef ribs. The cut known as jacobs ladder – these were beasty pieces of meat. Smothered in my own spicy BBQ sauce, these really went down a treat.fb_img_1484058781804

Luckily it’s not all work and no play. The second week of January saw some of my family and I spend a week in a log cabin in a forest. It wasn’t far from home but far enough to know that you are on holiday – a much needed post Christmas holiday. Lots of walking ensued which, yes, included me getting stuck and falling in the mud – on out first day no less. Needless to say it got better!! It was the second year we had stayed there, the same week, the same cabin and it snowed on the same day – both years, so that was a nice touch. It was good to get away but work was calling, albeit a small whisper from a very quiet January. Never mind…. Canada in May!!

20170119_114135Back to work and time to start on the new menu. Some great new dishes are available from the menu. A popular  and equally quick to cook is our mussel and clam linguine. With some pre-cooked linguine this dish is ready in five minutes flat. One of our vegetarian dishes is a small shortcrust pastry pie filled with broccoli, kale and parmesan, served up with a thick and crispy potato rosti. To appeal to as many as possible a vegan dessert  is on offer to finish your meal. Banana bread with pecan ice cream and toffee sauce – all vegan. Coming up with new and interesting vegan dishes is thing I find most challenging about my job. I really try to go out of my way, and the rest of the team do, to come up with a dish that isn’t your run of the mill poached pear. I like to push it a bit more than that. I always have dishes available on every course that are vegan friendly and gluten free. I think in todays age you run the risk of harming your business if you aren’t offering something like this.
20170126_134133With the new menu up and running it really is a case of waiting for customers to pass through the door. Being a coastal restaurant during the depths of winter is a really grim place to be. A busy lunch time in January might be feeding 20 people compare that to the 300 covers on any day in August you can see why it can be a bit mind numbing sometimes. But during these quiet time it gives you a chance to play about a bit with food. Try new things, play around with recipes, and bake your favourite cake!! Carrot cake for me… you really can’t beat a nice slice of moist, spicy, over-iced carrot cake. So one quiet shift that’s exactly what I made, not only made but put a hefty dent in it too!

20170130_143656With it being so quiet in Thorpeness this time of year we close the restaurant on Mondays. That gave us chefs perfect opportunity to head to the big smoke together last week and sample some fine fare. We headed to Covent Garden, The Ivy Market Grill. Quite the meal it was too. When out eating at other places, especially those that are accredited with such food, I like to have something from every course. The silkiest chicken liver parfait started things off for me followed by melt in the mouth shoulder of lamb with roasted vegetables, mustard crust… it was simply superb! An apple tart finished the meal off complete with ice cream and flambeed calvados poured over the top by the waiter. I even treated my self to a nice glass of chablis too. Everybody else’s food looked amazing too. This will be my new go to place, if they have space, when I am visiting London (which I seem to be doing alot at the moment). The prices really are reasonable considering where it is…. for us 3 courses plus drinks was around £45 each, not bad at all in my opinion.

Thorpeness is sometimes lucky enough to hit the headlines, whether it be a rare bird from Minsmere landed on the common or an over exaggerated weather phenomenon, this sleepy village makes the headlines. Unfortunately last month it made headlines for the wrong reasons. A gentleman’s life was sadly lost as he walked along the beach one Saturday afternoon. Every year the cliff take a battering from the sea, this year however it has seemingly done more damage in a month that it has in the 16 years I have been in the area. For this reason the cliffs have been very unstable. The gentleman was buried under a cliff that collapsed on top of him whilst he was walking his dog. This was such a freak accident and something that left the community shocked. From my self and on behalf of The Dolphin we send our deepest sympathy, I’m sure that this is echoed through the whole of Thorpeness.

20170131_074243On a brighter note, our extension has finally started work. It has been a long time coming but we are happy to say that it has finally began. With work expected to take 10 weeks we have our fingers crossed that it will be open in time for the Easter holidays. Exciting times ahead for The Dolphin. There will be lots of updates on The Dolphin social media so keep an eye on that.

To keep up to date with me you can do so on Twitter, and Instagram

Crimbo next week….

The Dolphin

So once again the weeks have turned to months and what seems like a blink of an eye the summer is over and Christmas is knocking at the door. Why i’m surprised at this I don’t really know – it’s the same date every year but for some reason we are all really surprised at how quick Christmas has come and that it suddenly crept up on us. But alas, next Sunday see’s  most of us celebrate another Christmas day. For me, like most chefs in the country will be hard at it in the kitchen on, what for me is, the most important day of the year. We charge more money on that single day than any other so everything has to be just perfect therefore OCD properly kicks in to get things right. Not only that causes the stress levels to rise but the step up of any head chefs organisational skills this time year is something that makes you crave for that post service beer even more. Each supplier gets the Spanish inquisition as to when they will and wont be delivering over the 10 days of Christmas and new year, pre-orders are placed, allergen contents double checked, extra stock takes done, the stress of running out of containers in the kitchen to put food is something seen in every kitchen country wide. Why do this to ourselves? For me it’s because I love it. Nothing gets me going more than those 10 days over Christmas and new year. A time when people of all colour, nationalities, sexuality, age, gender get together to celebrate, to party, to eat, to drink and be merry. If I can be a part of what makes someones Christmas a good one then I feel blessed to do so. Christmas also gives me a chance to have fun with these…ginger bread

Gingerbread house

Not the greatest ginger bread houses but not a bad attempt either. The larger one is raffled off in the bar on the run up to Christmas and this year the money is going to Doctors without borders.

It’s not all bad during the winter months, for being on the coats it means that it is a pretty quiet time of the year for us. Therefore it’s holiday time!! During November I jumped on a ferry and headed to amsterdam for a few days. Probably not a place I’ll go back to but a thoroughly good time was had. Lot of walking seeing the sites in a city in which it didnt stop raining from the time I got there to the time I left. Needless to say that the new coat i bought before the trip came on handy!! Bitterballen seems to be the must have bar snack in Amsterdam so of course I indulged in every bar that I went in to. A deep fried breaded ball of a mixture of cheese and meat with a side of mustard is Amsterdam’s answer to our pork scratchings…I know which one I’d rather have!! The coffee shops and bars are a must and as you may suspect they are littered everywhere over the city.

coffee in amsterdamWith another Christmas party looming tonight the turkey need to go in the oven. Keep up to date with me and The Dolphin over Christmas on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – links to all of which should be on my page here. Something a little exciting and a first for The Dolphin, on Christmas Eve we will be screening live on Facebook as the crowds of people join in with the carol singing, mulled wine drinking and general merriment!! Then on Boxing day we will be live on Facebook in the kitchen during what is one of our busiest services of the year. Be sure to tune in on both days to see what goes on behind the scenes!!

Merry Christmas everybody!!

20161101_100500

 

Summer is finally here…

Thorpefest

Last Saturday saw Thorpeness Country Club host the first ever Thorpefest. There were hundreds of people that attended making the day a success and raising money for charity. It wasn’t easy trying to organise the food that we required as it was a bit of an unknown event. We didn’t really know how many people were going to pitch up, the sun shining would play a huge factor in this. Lets just say I didn’t run out of burgers and sausages and that they have been on my specials board all week. Everything went off with out any troubles which resulted in lots of happy faces and lots of dancing. Somethings to change for next to make the event even bigger and better, and that all important date to put in your diaries is Saturday 8th July. At The Dolphin we are already excited for next years event.

tomatoesWe have been getting some great veggies from John’s allotment once again this year. The sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes are stocked up in the fridge and now accompany the whole bream. There will be loads more coming my way so finger crossed for the sun.

beetroot

The multi coloured beetroot is back again which is great to see. These will be going in my salads for The Country Club. From field to my kitchen within a matter of minutes, you really cant get fresher than that.

We are really gearing up for summer now in the kitchen. This coming weekend will see us start our new lunch and dinner menus for the summer. Just finishing off a few bits of preps like chutney etc and then we’ll be ready. We are hoping for another super busy summer.

We are now open all day everyday too so there is no excuses for not having time to pop in for a pint!!

It might be early in the year but all of our Christmas menus are now available online at www.thorpenessdolphin.com and on here at the tab above. Christmas is a really really busy time for us so if you do wish to dine with us at all over the festive period then it is best to book early!!

saladsThe summer programme has kicked off at The Country Club and along with it is a brand new website and a fantastic looking programme of events. Once again we are doing the catering there this summer. We have used last years experience as a learning curve and have changed up a few things. This year we have some super fresh and exciting salad that you can just pick up and go with. Fresh everyday along with the sandwiches, cakes, muffins and of course Thorpeness Village Stores famous sausage rolls. The country club also now offers daily membership rates so you can pop along when ever you feel like without having to dig deep for a whole weeks membership.

The weeks seem to be flying by at the moment so I’m sure it will feel like a blink of an eye before September is here but we are holding out for a long, hot, busy summer. Hope to see a lot of you in the next few weeks as the school finish breaking up for the school holidays.

Keep up to date on Twitter @funky_banana @the_dolphininn and on instagram @christheobald04 @the_dolphin_thorpeness

The summer is rolling in…

12662548_1095719623801297_3937377524724381490_nIt’s been a while since I last updated, however time just gets away from you and the weeks soon turn into months. But let me tell you, they have been packed with lots of stuff. Planning a summer season in Thorpeness isn’t a ten minute job. Once again we are heavily involved with the Country Club. The summer season kicks off there on 5th July. It will once again be packed with activities to keep the younger members of the family busy for the whole summer. Don’t worry there is stuff to do for the adults too!! The biggest event happening at The Country Club this summer is Thorpefest. On 2nd July The Country Club hosts their very own music festival. A day packed full with live music. With tributes to TakeThat, Coldplay, The Everley Brothers, Pink, Lady GaGa and many more there is plenty on offer for all ages – Bring the whole family!! Ticket can be bought on the website www.thorpefest.co.uk. And to make the day even better The Dolphin is catering the whole event – what more could you ask for? Keep up to date with them on Twitter too @thorpefest2016. Next week all the sign boards should be appearing on the sides of roads country wide so keep your eyes peeled.

Hever castle

I managed to squeeze a week away which saw my National Trust membership get its monies worth. I spent a few days down in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent. I visited lots of castles – it’s surprising how many are down in that part of the country. Maybe built to defend against foreign invaders?!?! I had a fantastic time away, just the dog and I, spent lots of time walking taking in a walk along the white cliffs of Dover. During my time off I also visited Kew gardens in London for the second time. An amazing place for anybody who has the smallest interest in plants. A whole day spent wandering ensures that your legs are sore at the end of it. Unfortunately the memory card in my phone decided to pack up and I lost all of the pictures I had taken during the day, so that’s my excuse for going back again soon!!  I also spent time in my own garden which has seen the clay top soil removed and fresh new top soil and turf laid. Being a brand new garden I had a blank slate to begin with so I have really been able to put my mark on it. Now things are growing well and flowers slowly coming out I am really pleased with hoe it has turned out.

Lobsters

My newest menu started a few weeks back and is going down well. Our popular Lobster and crayfish linguine is going down as well as ever. Today I received my first catch of native lobsters. Before I was buying Canadian ones until the waters became a bit more suited for catching lobsters from the Suffolk coast. The steaks from Gerard of Salter and King butcher in Aldeburgh always go down well and fly out of the door. Our vegetarian sweet potato and chick pea burgers are also really popular with grilled halloumi and mushroom topped with a tomato salsa. You can check it out on the menus tab at the top. I have almost finished my new summer menus which will be featuring lots of produce from the allotments here in Thorpeness. As always there is great dishes for gluten free and vegan diets and we’ll always do everything we can in the kitchen to accommodate the most unusual requests. Watch this space for the new menu coming soon.

Ready meals

Another thing we have to get ready for in the kitchen is the influx of people who visit Thorpeness wanting to have night off from the cooking. This means we need to make sure that the freezers are brimming with ready meals. Fish pie is always really popular and I can’t make enough of them to keep up with demand. A surprising favourite has been the muntjac casserole. I wasn’t expecting this to sell very quickly but again it is going down a storm with holiday makers and locals. Other ready meals available lasagne, sausage casserole, pasta bake, game pie, plus what ever else I’m asked for as requests are often taken at the kitchen door.The logistics of making them isn’t the easiest as we have no special equipment to make life easier. Firstly making, in large batches, the food it self. Then it has to be portioned up between the tin ready meal containers. Cool as quickly as possible before adding the lid and sealing. Whilst they are cooling I am busy in the office creating and printing the labels that will adorn the ready meals. Once the lid goes on they are stickered up and frozen in the deep freeze. This week I begin in earnest in making them having already made oxtail casserole last week. Watch out in the shop as the freezer fills up.

Bakewell tart

Last week saw us provide catering for the T and A collection Team Awards. Cooking for 101 people in a single function is not something I have done for quite a few years so was quite the challenge. Though one I think was easily met. A starter of pressed chicken and tarragon terrine, smoked bacon and bourbon jam with crisp bread followed by plaice fillet, tender stem broccoli, spinach, new potatoes, confit cherry tomatoes and brown shrimp seemed to go down pretty well. Though with the sauce to complete the dish is was a bit frantic getting all the components of the dish on to the plate at a good pace. Alas we got there and everybody enjoyed it. Dessert was bakewell tart with creme anglaise. A nice moist bakewell is a favourite of mine and goes down brilliantly with anglaise. It was well received.

Newspaper article

As well as everything else I have been doing another article was also in  the paper a few weeks ago. I am lucky enough to be one of a handful of chefs that share a weekly article in which we all get to write bi-monthly. Covering readers questions, seasonal food and a recipe from our menu it makes quite an eclectic read.

The Dolphin has a new website that has finally gone live. Check it out here www.thorpenessdolphin.com

You can get updates from Twitter @funky_banana and also now on Instagram @christheobald04 or just click the follow button below.