It’s Easter time, chocolate eggs and wine

Easter is pretty much upon us now – it has been a long time coming this year but the wait is finally up. It hasn’t exactly been easy going getting here though. Although as you can see from above I have been out to play now and again too. This is one that has a big tick on my bucket list. Back in February, for one night only, Whoopi Goldberg performed her first ever stand up show in London. I am a big fan of Whoopi and as soon as I saw on social media that she was coming this side of the Atlantic I had to make sure that I got a ticket at what ever cost. I got my ticket, in the stalls naturally, so then to book a hotel for the night. I’m not one to skimp when it comes to staying in a hotel and this was no exception. Opting for a 5 star hotel in central London I was set to have a good weekend. And a good weekend it was too. Whoopi had me, and the rest of the audience, in fits of laughter all night. This is certainly something I will never forget.

Shrove Tuesday is always a big day in The Dolphin as it sees us fill up with people of all ages to help raise money for the church. Dozens of people came to fill and top their pancakes with a whole plethora of sweet things. Customer pay a minimal amount, which goes straight to the church, and receive 2 hot pancakes from the kitchen. They then have a choice of about 15 different items to mix and match to make their ultimate filling. The church lays on activities for the kids to keep the busy whilst parents and grand-parents enjoy a natter. This is becoming more and more popular every year with this being it’s forth annual outing. The challenge comes with cooking that many pancakes. On it like a pro though – four pans, 30 litres of batter mix and lots of flipping. A couple of hours later and we had churned out over 200 pancakes. Not to shabby at all!!

During the quieter months in Thorpeness we close The Dolphin on Mondays (open again now though). This gave us a perfect chance to take the staff on a well deserved trip out. We do try to push beyond the norm when treating the staff. This outing saw us once again clamber on to a mini bus before heading to London. Parking up at the O2 arena we headed over the Thames on the Emirates cable cars to have brunch at a restaurant. Needless to say the drinking started early. We hopped back in a cable car to catch a boat to take us up the Thames to the Tate Modern. We went where our feet took us in the gallery as we each went out own way for a couple of hours before meeting in the bar – naturally!! As the sunset we took a stroll down South Bank heading to Westminster bridge. A pre-booked table at an Italian was supper for the evening, more drinking ensued. Then another boat trip taking in the sights of the river at night. London lit up is really something quite beautiful. It really is a pleasure to organise and take the staff on such a special day out.

The Village Store has just reopened this week after being closed for a couple of months. We carried out a small amount of work inside the shop but we wanted our main focus to be on the content of what was on offer for you to spend your pennies on. With a nod to home David has sourced some fantastic reclaimed metal sculptures from his home country of Zimbabwe. They really do look amazing and would right in in your garden. Now stocked with blankets and beach towels, post cards and kids toys the shop has a better range than its ever had. We now have a huge display deli fridge in the shop which is packed with fresh veggies, fish, dairy and now with meat from Gerard’s Salter and King butcher in Aldeburgh. I too have been busy making sure that the freezer is once again brimming with ready meals to make your lives a little easier when you want a night off from cooking. Our new shop manager is due to start next week and she is raring to get going.

As I said it hasn’t really been that quiet for us this winter as we have had plenty of projects to keep us busy. This last one is something that David and I are hugely proud of. After literally years of waiting we will be ready next week to open the doors to our new garden room extension on the restaurant. The builders have been busy since January making sure that everything will be in place to open this Easter weekend. The glass went in the window frames so it is all becoming very exciting now. I really cant wait for it to be open. In keeping with the quirkiness of Thorpeness the extra room has a wild flower meadow grass roof, as does our shed now too. The pergola around the outside will have wisteria and hops growing against it so when it flower during the summer it should look pretty spectacular. We are sure that this is going to be the place that everybody want to eat this summer.

I have just launched my new spring menu which carries some great new dishes. The pork fillet with sprouting broccoli, watercress and lemon and garlic butter is going down a storm. Mussels are back on cooked very simply with Aspalls cyder, thyme, garlic and smoked bacon. Salter and King butchers in Aldeburgh have some brilliant Norfolk beef steaks – steaks are always flying out of the door. Once again we have dishes for our vegan and gluten free friends too.

As I’m sure you can imagine we are going to be very busy over Easter, therefore if you havn’t already then it’s best to book your table as soon as possible. We are open for food all day on Easter Sunday and as I type this we already have close to 200 people booked. Please call 01728 454994 to book your table over the Easter period.

Good Friday sees us play host to the annual Thorpeness Beach Clean. An event that grows in popularity every year and is mightily important to the village. Dozens of people will meet with us for coffee in the morning before heading down to the beach to do their good deed. Cheese and wine is then enjoyed back at The Dolphin whilst people exchange stories over their most unusual finds on the beach. As you are all aware the beach and cliffs have taken a particularly hard battering this winter. Huge amounts of the cliff has fallen down which sadly resulted in the death of a walker earlier on in the year. Therefore we must all do our bit to keep our fantastic beach clean and tidy for the season ahead.

Keep up to date with all the goings on from the Dolphin on our social media account, links of which are on The Dolphin website.   

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

Have a great Easter and hope to see alot of you over the coming week.

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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!!

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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