Kent food and drink scene
PUBLISHED: 22:31 01 July 2016 | UPDATED: 22:31 01 July 2016
From award-winning wine to Dev’s Dosa and a new farm shop in a Royal town
Chapel Down, England’s leading wine producer, has claimed an impressive six awards at the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC), including Gold for its Three Graces 2010 and Silver Outstanding for its Blanc de Blancs 2011 sparkling wines.
This success follows the continued rise of English wine with Chapel Down Group posting an increase of 34 per cent sales growth to £8.18m for the past financial year, its inclusion as one of 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain from the London Stock Exchange and further Gold medals in three other prestigious global competitions.
Chapel Down is the leading producer of English wine and produces an award-winning range of sparkling and still wines at its base in Tenterden, where 20 acres of the 64-acre site are currently planted under vine.
Chapel Down, which won ‘Best Drinks Producer’ in the 2015 Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards, has 193 acres under vine across Kent, and sources fruit from a further 195 vineyards across the south east.
It uses wine-making expertise to produce a range of beers and cider (Curious Brew lager, Curious IPA, Curious Porter and Curious Apple cider). Curious Drinks recently completed a successful Crowdfunding campaign.
Coastguard sails again
Popular seaside pub restaurant The Coastguard in St Margaret’s Bay, which was officially taken over by Shepherd Neame in January and then closed for an extensive four-month £250,000 refurbishment, has opened its doors in time for summer.
Dating back more than 300 years, The Coastguard boasts panoramic sea views across the small bay, and is Britain’s nearest pub to France.
In keeping with its seafront position, The Coastguard’s new look is inspired by maritime heritage, with red and white lighthouse-style pub fascia and signwriting, complete with boat-shaped planters and lifebuoys as decoration.
An outside bar and barbecue have also been installed, along with outdoor feature ‘living room’ lamps.
The interior of the pub has been completely refurbished, repainted in contemporary colours with a new fireplace installed. There is also new lighting and furniture and more nautical decoration throughout.
The kitchen has also been completely refitted, and licensees Karensa and Tom Miller have introduced a new menu comprising a varied menu of light bites and traditional main meals, with seafood a speciality due to the coastal location.
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame attended the launch event and said: “The Coastguard is in a spectacular seaside location, and we are confident that following our investment in the site, it will prove a popular destination for residents and visitors to the area.”
Town and country
Chegworth Farm Shop has opened on the Pantiles this month, bringing a true farm shop to the heart of Tunbridge Wells.
As well as Chegworth’s own organic fruit, vegetables & salads which are grown on the family farm and their award-winning range of farm pressed juices, the shop will be stocked to the brim with a wide selection of the best local, organic, and speciality meats, dairy, bread, whole foods, home-made cakes and snacks.
Awarded ‘Kent Juice Producer of the Year’ for the second year running at the Taste of Kent Awards 2016, Chegworth Valley was established by the Deme family in 1983 and is situated in the heart of the Kent countryside near Harrietsham.
More than 70 lines of produce are grown seasonally on the farm and will be delivered daily to the shop, alongside produce from partner farms both in the UK and Spain. The shelves will be full of Kent strawberries, raspberries and cherries this month and the shop’s offering will change with the seasons.
Kent Farmers’ Market Association comment
Keep it in the family
Family-run dairy farms have been under intense pressure for years, so need to be creative to succeed. Karen and Steve Reynolds farm near Staplehurst and have been making their award-winning Kentish Blue cheeses since 2009, leading to an appearance on Countryfile with John Craven.
They sold cheese via local shops, at Farmers’ Markets and to restaurants, and in 2013 launched an online shop. However, when their son Frank joined the business last year, they needed to find a way to expand their business further, so started bottling and selling free-range milk and cream direct to the consumer, rather than sending it all to a processor.
“It qualifies as free-range,” said Frank, “because the cows spend at least 180 days grazing. This is much less common that you’d imagine, since most supermarkets have no standards for how long cows should away from sheds and yards. Our cows are happier and healthier, and the milk is higher in protein and butterfat too.”
“It is also incredibly fresh. We milk the cows at 5am, and it is delivered to our customers later that day.”
Karen adds that it is important to put a face to dairy farmers. “It’s easy for milk to be treated as a commodity, but for us, it isn’t; it’s our livelihood. So we are building our own brand - Kentish Free-range Milk – which allows shoppers to know that it comes from us, and that it will as delicious as our cheeses.”
They sell their cheese, milk and cream at Tonbridge and Penshurst Farmers’ Markets and via independent shops across Kent: kingcottdairy.co.uk for stockists.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes are a particular pleasure in summer, when thoughts turn to lighter dishes, so why not try your hand at these delicious dosai, created by Kent Life and Kentn on Sunday Chef of the Year 2015 Dev Biswal, from The Ambrette restaurant in Canterbury and Margate. These southern-India style pancakes contain turmeric, a renowned anti-inflammatory and are served with gently spiced potatoes. A fantastic, vegan and vegetarian dish.
Ingredients (dosai pancakes)
● 1 cup white rice
● 2 tbsp vegetable oil
● 65g white lentils
● 65g yellow lentils
● 1 tsp sugar
● Salt to taste
● Four medium-sized potatoes, boiled then grated
● 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
● 1 tsp mustard seeds
● ½ tbsp ginger, grated or finely chopped
● 1 sprig of curry leaf
● ½ white onion, finely chopped
● ½ fresh green chili, finely chopped
● 1 tsp of turmeric powder
● 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
● Juice of lemon
● Salt to taste
● Disk of papaya or other tropical fruit to garnish
1. Leave the lentils and rice to soak in water overnight, with sugar and salt added
2. Blend into a thick creamy batter consistency
3. To make the filling, preheat oil in a frying pan and add the oil
4. Add the mustard seeds to the oil and wait until they start popping
5. Add the curry leaves, then add the onion gently sauté until translucent
6. Add the ginger and green chilli, then the turmeric and cook for 3 mins
7. Add the grated potato and cook for a further 8-10 mins
8. Season with salt and lemon juice and then set the filling aside.
9. When ready to make the dosai, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat
10. Pour one ladle of the dosai batter into the centre of the pan and spread in a circular motion using the back of the ladle (don’t to make the dosa too thin as this will cause it to burn)
11. Once the batter is evenly spread, drizzle with vegetable oil
12. Leave the batter to brown until outer edges begin to look dry, about 2 mins
13. Loosen the dosa with a spatular; the underside should be crisp and slightly browned
14. Spoon half of the filling into a line in the centre of the un-browned side and fold the sides of the dosa around the filling to create a cylindrical shape
15. Repeat for the second dosa, serve with fresh coriander and garnish with the fruit