Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Birthday feedback … part 3 – the food!




Rathfinny’s website has some fascinating history on how the estate began, and how they’re coping and developing …

 
I loved the logo they've created for their
Cradle Valley still wines - the boxing hares

slow, but sure for the vines: seems to be the order of the day – one cannot hurry wine growing or making … be it sparkling or otherwise!





Cold damp January looking down the valley


The estate is only three miles from the sea, nestling in Cradle Valley ...



 … this part of the South Downs, is one of England’s exceptional natural landscapes … worked since Roman, Saxon and Medieval times …



Rathfinny's Sussex Sparkling
The setting ‘is perfect’ for producing wine … a south facing slope, mild climate, chalk soils and protected from the prevailing wind.



Our band of chalk runs under the English Channel surfacing in France as the Paris Basin – where Champagne is produced … however per protected status for the Champagne method, English Rathfinny’s is marketed as Sussex Sparkling …




Pinot Blanc, Pinot
Gris - a still wine 

We started trying the Cradle Valley wines … they’re the 'still' Sussex wines … and were interesting to learn about – as is the way … I’ve learnt more … but I’ll try and not go waxing lyrical about everything!




We'd started and I see I hadn't managed to include the fig oil
here's the hummus and sourdough ... except the green fig oil
is probably in the middle of the Sussex knob!
The tasting menu lunch was delicious and certainly unique – I went off-piste, so to speak, and had vegetarian both for my starter and the main dish … while my brother and SIL chose the same dishes … we had to taste one dessert!



No idea why it's gone blue! - but
is an example of  flavours - it's
a postcard I've had for ages


Let’s just quickly ‘discuss’ taste … an exploration of the senses: the first experience of something to savour … to be remembered.   Then perhaps we add in other ingredients … do they work together … how do we know that they would work? 





Pithiviers - Place du Martroi
There are tried and tested recipes, or there are chefs who experiment to bring us new flavours, new ideas and sensations for the mouth … things most of us would never do at home … and some will tempt, some won’t … ie here – I’m a venturesome customer, and …




The pithivier made with Belted Galloway and
Brighton Blue chees
… so without further ado – I learnt the origin of another French word … pithivier: a round domed pastry pie decorated with distinctive spiral markings – from the commune of Pithiviers in the Loiret department.



Belted Galloway - a healthy looking
beast
To go with our first glass of Sparkling we had sourdough bread, with hummus, Sussex knob butter and fig oil … it was delicious – the fig oil was just wonderful  


Allium Sativum 1793


The family had Belted Galloway pithiviers, Brighton Blue cheese, on charred alliums in an onion broth with rosemary oil … happy times …





Cubes of slow-cooked celeriac, radicchio tardivo,
clementine, savoury almond granola, smoked rapeseed
Now my starter was somewhat different – being the vegetarian option: small (I’ve kept tiny for the main course!) portions of slow cooked celeriac, radicchio tardivo, clementine (I think I could have done without that), savoury almond granola, smoked rapeseed … I did savour each item … all were delicious …



Bream with cockle butter
For our main courses – the family had tasty grilled bream, seaweed, pomme rosti, sesame, cockle butter sauce … I gather was wonderful – looked it too … I was a little jealous!!



Quite difficult for you to distinguish
as it was for me eating ... but all
components were delicious


While I had tiny! nibbles of Crisp Jerusalem artichoke, filled with cheese fondue, quince, polenta and shaved chestnut mushrooms … definitely not enough to share with others!  But the flavours were quite extraordinary …







Then we (mostly me!) shared a Sloe gin vanilla frozen parfait, with forced rhubarb … again just very delicious …







Celereac ... difficult to use - but
does have a really interesting
flavour - I have cooked with it
The idea of a tasting menu – is to taste the wines, or food, or both as here at Rathfinny’s.    The chefs can be creative and inspirational utilising seasonal produce – giving their customers a range of tastes we might not normally come across.  Personally I think it’s a great idea … and I enjoyed the birthday treat!




We’d gone by taxi so could share a bottle of their renowned Rathfinny’s Sussex Sparkling …




Radicchio Tardivo
Well that’s it … you’re lucky – I could have written a book I think!  But I got sent off in many directions … I loved the foods I’d never bother to make myself …


Quince Fruit on branch


… I looked more into flavour and taste … taste being restricted to the five experiences on the tongue and in the mouth: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and ‘unami’ (or savouriness).





Silver bream on top, with
common bream below
Flavour, on the other hand, is detected mainly through our sense of smell, by the olfactory bulb (to be found in the brain), and, to a lesser extent orally.


Another postcard in blue again
 from years ago -
the flavours of Olive



Back to Rathfinny’s … the website is great and very informative … the whole estate is so professional … yet gave us a very warm welcome … it has ‘a unique spirit of place’ in the beautiful South Downs.





Lots of photos to explain things … but not enough … if you look at the website: there’s so much more … in other words I’m impressed with the place, their vision for the wine industry, the local area and the care of the environment …


Please enjoy and check out their site: Rathfinny's


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

39 comments:

Chatty Crone said...

Happy birthday again - gee you know how to celebrate it right.
I would love to go to a wine tasting with food.
I am not sure I could eat the same food as you.
I think we eat differently here - or I don't have a refined pallet.
sandie

Liz A. said...

Sounds like it was a great meal. Happy birthday.

Fil said...

Oh that sounds absolutely wonderful Hilary - a perfect birthday. I haven't had a chance to try any English wines yet - must keep an eye out next time I'm over (any excuse to try wine lol ) and you're part of the country is just so beautiful. Definitely long overdue a visit.
Here's to the next turn around the sun - may it be filled with joy and lots of delicious tastes.

Rhodesia said...

Wow Hilary I have so enjoyed this post. I have never tasted English wine, something perhaps to look forward to though my favourites, despite where we live, are South African and Californian. No complaints either about Australian or New Zealand wines.

I had also never heard of Pithiviers before, I always learn so much from your posts.

Jerusalem Artichoke (Topinambour) soup is amazing, I have it growing in the garden. Many people complain that it causes wind but we do not have a problem with it 😊 It makes so many interesting dishes.

I enjoyed your birthday and it sounds like you did as well. Have a good week. Cheers Diane

Sandra Cox said...

How delightful. I would have been in my element with vegetarian fare and desserts.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Yes, as a vegetarian, this looks great (though I avoid mushrooms...personal choice). As I don't drink wine, the rest is a bit wasted on me! YAM xx

Elephant's Child said...

This vegetarian is impressed. Too often the vegetarian option is (politely speaking) dull.
It looks and sounds like a delightful day - and the boxing hare wine label is wonderful.

Anabel Marsh said...

I have learnt the definition of pithivier! I have eaten it but just thought it was a fancy word for pie. Next time I will look out for the spirals.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hilary, it seems as though your birthday is rolling along forever, and one delight follows on another. I confess to not knowing that Britain has a wine industry and I would very much enjoy tasting some of the results. I inquired in our local liquor store and when I mentioned Britain and wine in the same breath they looked askance to say the least. I suspect that in order to sample its charms I will have to visit the UK; it appears unlikely that it will make an appearance here any time soon. The French have certainly succeeded in preventing the misuse of the term Champagne elsewhere in the world, and good for them I say. I hope that renowned English cheese brands like Stilton have been afforded the same exclusivity. Like Diane above I enjoy a variety of wines, including Australian, Chilean, and the wonderful Malbecs of Argentina, but there is a fine French Chablis we buy that is also exquisite. A day without wine is like a day without, well, Hilary. Both are indispensable to the full enjoyment of life.

Inger said...

Did I say Happy Birthday last time I visited here? If not, you know I wish you all the best, always. You kind of lost me with all this food and wine. Amazing stuff, I can't help but wonder where they come up with it all. Main thing though, you had a good celebration, you enjoyed all the food, the wine, the landscape.

I'm curious about the chalk and will look it up. As was said in another comment, one always learns a lot on your blog.

Marja said...

Strange the postcards have gone blue although they are still nice The top one does it mean Flavours of Morocco? They have markets full of flavour. I see you had a delicious dinner At least it looks delicious as I haven't tasted it before. Sparkling wine sounds good too. What a wonderful experience

Hels said...

You wrote that taste was restricted to the five experiences on the tongue and in the mouth: sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness and savouriness. Agreed, but I think the most important sense is visual - the taste buds get going as soon as the eyes fall on a beautifully coloured and designed dish.

Look how beautiful the artichoke, cheese fondue, quince, polenta and shaved chestnut mushrooms look. If it was all blended up, the nutritional value would still be identical, but the visual appeal would be dead.

Jo said...

Yes, Happy Birthday again. What a wonderful tasting experience. England has changed so much I think. Sparkling wines from the Downs, can't believe it. Wish you could send me some of that menu sounded wonderful

Debbie D. said...

You've had some fabulous birthday celebrations, Hilary! The Rathfinny's dining experience looks marvellous! Nothing like sparkling wine to make things festive. Cheers! 🥂

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sandie – well it’s friends and family that do it – and January is not the best time to have a birthday … I enjoyed my times out in Africa – sunny birthdays! Each country has its own way of doing things … while each venue can also be very different - this is that …

@ Liz – it was a wonderful time …

@ Fil – the wines are very good – well they win lots of awards! So I hope you get to try a glass or two next time you’re over. It is lovely down here – we’re lucky … but Britain and Ireland have some great countryside … but love your idea of the phrase ‘the next turn of the sun being filled with joy and delicious tastes’ … excellent thought!

@ Diane – it was an experience to say the least. I know most wines are good – I am hooked on South African wines … but when in Canada – I did use their local offerings. The English wines get lots of awards …

That’s great – I didn’t know the pie was called after the French town either … and felt it was worth noting.

I love Jerusalem artichokes and eating them, or making soup … it can cause wind – I think probably eating too much of them – because they taste delicious: one wants more … that’s my guess.

I did have a fun birthday week … why not stretch it out – brightens the January gloom …

@ Sandra – yes the vegetarian fare was delicious, while the parfait was positively yummy!

@ Yam – I had a phase of not eating mushrooms … but have gone back on that. You’d have enjoyed the tastes …

@ EC – I know … I have to deal with an issue we have at the hotel we use for a monthly function re their vegetarian and vegan options. Yes – that logo label with the boxing hares is special isn’t it …

@ Anabel – I wasn’t aware about pithiviers … though I was able to tell the family it was a pastry pie – the connection with the town was a quick look up.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ David – well I think I’ve stretched it out … but always worth it – having ‘them’ or writing about whatever goes on.

It’s interesting – the Romans were making wine in England 2,000 years ago … but obviously as climate changed i.e. The Little Ice Age – we couldn’t grow wine then.

But now … our wines are considered pretty good and win lots of awards … the market isn’t swamped with English wine – but it’s around. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the large hotels you’d be able to get a bottle … but it’s not something I’d be doing either – large hotels and me don’t really go together. An enjoyable time out in relaxed company … and those Canadian vineyards are just lovely …

I did write a post on the protected status of our foods … November 2013 … a brief summary of them … and a fun fact about Stilton. I think the protected status is a good idea for speciality products/foods … so I’m happy to drink Sussex Sparkling! And I enjoy many wines … but have noted your Malbec, and French Chablis … which I think I should give a try to. You’re very kind with your comments here – thank you.

@ Inger – I’m sure you did … but always happy to hear it again. Ideas, including food – always change as the years pass by … and chefs are always experimenting. I enjoyed writing the post up – gives me a chance to remember more easily – about a dining event … I loved!

The geology of the chalk is fascinating to think the deluge from (what is now) the North Sea to open up the English Channel cut through the champagne soils … give France some and us some. Enjoy the look up …

@ Marja – I know … I gave up worrying about the postcards – they were a filler adjunct! But I love that range of flavour, taste, foodie cards … and yes: Flavours of Morocco – I’ve never been, but understand their markets are a wonder to see.

It was a treat of an experience … and the wine was very good!

@ Hels – I should have included vision – as you’re so right … I was trying to tie the post up – and forgot our initial visual reaction to a plate of food: sorry!!

Each of the plates of each course were, as you quite rightly point out, a visual delight … and delicious.

@ Jo – yes there are lots of changes here – and I notice that having effectively lived here all my life, yet had times abroad. They had wines in Roman times … so Rathfinny’s have settled on a great area for wine production – looks perfect. Sorry – not going to send you any!!

@ Debbie – well I’ve stretched my birthday celebrations out a little … and I do enjoy a good sparkle – be it food or wine!!

Thanks so much to you all – I’m so glad I was privileged enough to be taken up to Rathfinny’s … and I’ve loved showing you a bit more about this part of the world. Birthday’s over!! Cheers and here’s to a happy year ahead - Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a fascinating mix of foods. Smart to go by taxi so you could all enjoy the sparkling wine.

Joanne said...

My mouth is watering. Such an interesting mix of flavors. And I do think, for me, that with small portion I do take my time to savor it all. Faced with a large plate of food, one feels like they have to start plowing through it all. That dessert looked yummy. I might have just skipped to having all desserts...maybe next time. Cheers and continued birthday month!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Quite a celebration!

Sandra Cox said...

You're right. That logo is grand!

Deborah Weber said...

Sounds like a perfectly wonderful time Hilary. And it's always lovely to start off your next journey around the sun with some delightful experience isn't it? Tasting menus are fun,and the wines sound fabulous. Love that logo!

Keith's Ramblings said...

A delicious post Hilary and a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful part of the country. Why I've never visited Rathfinny's I just don't know. Thanks for giving me an idea of what to do with some of the sloe gin I made last year!

Vallypee said...

What a delicious meal, Hilary. It all looked exquisite. I'm a vegetarian too with a cheese allergy to boot, so it makes life even more limiting, but what you ate sounds just divine!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – it was a special day … with such interesting foods – let alone the place. Yes the taxi was a good idea …

@ Joanne – I know I can tell you my mouth waters as I think about the lunch … and how many other meals I’d like to try up there. Yes – it needed to take time to be eaten, so the flavours could be savoured. The dessert was yummy … you’d have missed too much – just having the dessert menu! I think that’s it for the birthday for this year – sadly?!

@ John – it was a celebration – you’re right …

@ Sandra – I love the logo … great to remind us about hares in the countryside …

@ Deborah – thank you … it’s all great fun – while the sun is rising up the skyline … and I’m looking forward to more sunshine. As you say tasting menus are delicious … but having the Sparkling with it just added to a great meal.

@ Keith – yes we do live in a fabulous part of the country. It’s the right time to visit now – it’s really taking off … slow but sure – if you can get over to visit … highly recommended – beautiful estate too. Good luck with making your sloe gin parfait – Rosie would like some?!

@ Val – oh gosh vegetarian with a cheese allergy – Oh!! I feel for you … most of the foods I had would definitely suit you.

Thanks everyone – so pleased this post resonated with you … it was a lovely day out and a delightful birthday lunch. Cheers Hilary

Jacqui said...

That food sounds beyond delightful. Oh my--is it lunch time yet?

Dan said...

That all sounds wonderful. Good for you for going by taxi so you could enjoy the sparkling. The food looks very good. The menu items don't sound like something I'd choose, but seeing them and hearing you describe them, maybe I would have to think twice.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Oh so nice

D.G. Kaye said...

My mouth was watering! A meal fit for a queen. And the sound of fig oil is intriguing! So glad you had a beautiful birthday. <3 xx

Susan Kane said...

I am reading this just right before hitting the sheets, and dang it. My stomach is rumbling!

The cow has me wondering. Will look it up tomorrow or sooner if I feel a little peckish.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jacqui - it was just delicious ... amazingly so - so hope lunchtime was soon afterwards!

@ Dan - yes it was wise to go by taxi - but a long way round. The food was exceptional ... and there was a cassoulet ... I didn't mention the other choices - did I? I think there was something for everything ... bearing in mind those were the choices ... and I'm sure as a once in a while lunch, you'd enjoy your choices.

@ Jo-Anne - 'twas so nice - yes!

@ Debby - thank you ... all extremely tasty, while the fig oil was very good ... I can still remember its taste: and it was a lovely birthday.

@ Susan - sorry about the bed-time read ... hope you had a good night? That cow would happily feed the many ... very heavy headed - a stocky beast.

Thanks so much for visiting ... gloomy day again today ... and I'm off to London - so a soggy trip ahead ... cheers Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

That sounds like a wonderful - and very tasty - birthday! Although growing up in Sussex, I knew nothing about this place or about the sparkling wine of the area. Informative as always.

Elsie Amata said...

Everything you tasted and savored, I would've enjoyed too. Especially, the Blue cheese. Gosh, I love that cheese! My youngest and I are the only ones in the family that do. What a lovely birthday you had.

Elsie

Lynda Dietz said...

I think I want to celebrate my next birthday with you! Too bad I can't make it to the UK in three weeks.

You manage to make me re-appreciate that I live in the middle of wine country in my part of Pennsylvania in the US, and also to make me hungry for just about everything you mentioned, even though I've never heard of half of it.

Thank you for sharing your birthday with us so thoroughly!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick - it's only been going since 2012 - when the farm was bought and the land started to be developed - the last couple of years they've been creating their wine: still and sparkling ... so it's a relatively recent change of land use. Glad you enjoyed learning the new way forward with our Sussex and English soils ...

@ Elsie - thank you ... it was very delicious. I too love blue cheese ... Brighton Blue is a speciality. It's been a fun birthday time ...

@ Lynda - oh gosh ... three weeks is a little of a rush isn't it. Perhaps you can get out to one of your local vineyards for your birthday lunch? We're lucky here ... we do have lots of different fruits and vegetables, which we've grown and nurtured, and over the years learnt to cook in different ways.

So pleased you enjoyed the posts ...

Thanks so much to you all: I've enjoyed writing up this year's birthday stories - cheers Hilary

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Each of those dishes contains a combination of elements I would never have thought to put together. I'm sure every one of them was a unique blend of flavors. Would you try to replicate any of them at home?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dianne - I don't cook for others now ... so definitely won't be trying to even partly replicate; I've always enjoyed cooking ... but experimentation days are over ... though the flavours in each of the dishes were exquisite. Great to see you here ... cheers Hilary

Erica/Erika said...

I am salivating here, Hilary. Wine plus delicious food. I have not heard of fig oil before. We may have access to it here. I will investigate. A tasting menu is a wonderful idea. “Tiny” and “small” portions. A perfect birthday celebration!

mail4rosey said...

You certainly did have some tasty looking delicacies here. I don't think I've ever tried Clementine. I am glad you had a wonderful birthday!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Erica - the food was delicious as too the food - spectacular, even in January! The fig oil was a delightful taste and smell - full on ... I remember it! They weren't big portions ... but for me perfect - actually the pithivier and bream were a little more substantial.

@ Rosey - the clementine was a segment of a tangerine similar fruit. But the other things were mouth watering: I must go back ...

Cheers to the two of you - Hilary