Changing Rooms!

Sometimes you just HAVE to buy something, even when you don’t need it! For me it’s “another” flower vase slightly different from all the others! For Stuart it was a tonne (literally!) of centurys old oak!

He spotted these mighty beasts about 3 years ago at Rennew, in nearby Grindle and instantly fell in love with the character and beauty of the grain. He didn’t know what he would use them for, or when, but he felt compelled to make that purchase!At Rennew

Rough & ready pile of wood, how they sat for 3 years until there moment to shine was created!

Fast forward 3 years. We now have plans to transform the Brasserie to The Garden Room. Food and garden artwork from Sylvia Phillips collection will adorn the walls, rehung by the fabulous Mary Elliot, owner of Twenty Twenty Art Gallery in Much Wenlock. Henry & Denise our Gardener are transforming a messy cupboard in to a living wall. There will be lots of little touches to lighten and freshen it up.

But the table weren’t fitting the bill at all, with lovely sewing machine bases but dull and slightly too small tops Then Stuart remembered his pile of oak – still sitting at Rennew.

He hot footed it down to see Graham Manton, Estate Manager for Apley, who very handily happen to have a saw mill in the village, about 300 yards away from The Hundred House! It was agreed that they could indeed divide these HUGE beams into 1 1/2 inch thick planks and the next call was to Joiner Extraordinaire – Matt Allen.

Matt’s been responsible for several Hundred House projects and it was whilst creating the panelled library in Henrys Cottage, he found true love with our Hotel Manager at the time – Netty. After a break away Netty is back at the helm 3 nights a week and Matt has been given the task of making this beautiful wood in to beautiful tables!

So the journey ensues to Apley Mill Sawmill man, Alan must of thought we were mad!

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“You’re having a laugh aren’t you Stuart? That thing through the Mill?!”

They had to be jet washed to try and remove some of the dirt and grit before going through the Saw,

Hosing Down!

 Super Simon & Valdek blasting the beams

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Then the moment of truth – can it be done?

After plaining

Well, the sides came off –  now looking a lot better than “old swampy”!

Alan I’m sure cursed more than once whilst pushing these through “they’ve been an absolute swine – God knows how old they are, it’s some of the hardest wood I’ve ever come across and I’ve gone through 4 blades already, we’ve had to order more!”

cut plankHooray! Here’s the “unfinished – finished article” – well done Alan, we knew you could do it!

Still plenty of work to do on them before you’re eating Shropshire’s finest steaks off them – but certainly a very good start!

These are by no means going to be low-cost tables – but they will be strikingly handsome and who knows, around for another few hundred years yet!

 

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LateRooms.com Best Kept Secret Awards 2013

Award winning gardens

As some of you might be aware, last month we won the Best Kept Secret Award for Best Gardens from Laterooms.com, helped judged by Countryfile Magazine. There were several categories, including Comfiest Bed, Best View and Best Gadgets. All nominees were chosen by Laterooms.com customers, so people who have actually visited the hotels and left us reviews. Countrfile Magazine helped to judge the award, with Fergus Collins quoting,

“For sheer romance and endless hidden delights, Hundred House pips its rivals to the prize. The maze gardens full of tumbling roses and shrubs and threaded with water features provide a restful sanctuary – as well as the freshest of vegetables and herbs for the hotel’s restaurant. The gardens are the perfect accompaniment to the charming rooms – each uniquely furnished with antiques.” 

We e thrilled with the award, as so much hard work goes in from the team (Henry, Libby and Denise) maintaining the gardens that Sylvia had the foresight and imagination to create, 27 years ago.

If you would like to see Countryfile Magazine’s article in full, click here, or if you would like to see the other award winners from Laterooms.com, click here.

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BUT, our awards news doesn’t end there! We have been lucky enough to have been nominated for the Shropshire Star’s Tourism & Leisure Awards in the ‘Best Posh Nosh’ category. There is certainly some stiff competition, which is why we would be extremely grateful if you would click on the link and vote for us please! Fingers crossed!

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Hundred House Crab Apple Jelly

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September in the gardens brings us an abundance of Crab Apples, none of which go to waste. We make a fantastic Crab Apple Jelly that compliments such Game as Venison, Pheasant Breast or Wild Boar.

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Learn how to make the Hundred House Crab Apple Jelly:

You will need, Crab Apples 250g

Water

Sugar

1 Lemon

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 Begin by washing the apples and removing all of the stalks. Then place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour.

Once cooled, strain the pulp through a piece of muslin; this will help to keep the jelly nice and clear. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the pulp through the material as this will also make for a cloudy juice. Straining through a sieve is also a no no!

When measuring the Sugar, you need to aim for 7 parts Sugar to 10 parts Crab Apple juice.

Add the juice from the Lemon and the Sugar. Boil the mixture. While this is boiling, skim any white froth that rises to the surface (this again will help to keep it clear). Keep testing the jelly with a spoon to see if it is beginning to set. Once it is, allow to cool a little and pour into sterilized jars.

Pheasant dish

Smoked breast of Pheasant with Sage stuffing, served with a Pear glazed with Crab Apple Jelly, Sweede Puree and Potato Gratin

 

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Stuart, inspecting this year’s crop

 

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Henry’s Herb Blog

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A couple of weeks ago, I spent the afternoon with Henry in the Herb Garden and Vegetable Patch, learning about just a handful of the varieties grown by him and the team.

Over 27 years ago, when Henry and Sylvia first took on and began renovation of the Hundred House, the gardens were not the spectacular site they are today. Henry describes them in their former state, as a mere lawn at the front and a run down vegetable patch to the rear, that had been neglected for a number of years.

Today, Henry alone spends upwards of 25 hours a week tending the gardens, along with Head Housekeeper Libby, and plant expert, Denise.

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You may or may not know that the rooms at the Hundred House, are named after plants and herbs that we grow onsite with Rose Geranium, Fennel and Dill and Anise being but a few.

Golden Marjoram~ According to English legend, Goblins hate Marjoram and should be sewn in one’s garden to ward them off. It is a very hardy plant and grows quickly with a sunny hue and an uplifting, zesty taste. Works very well in tomato sauces and in salads or casseroles.

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Anise~ Over the years, Anise was thought to be a cure for sleepiness when chewed and used as a very early antiseptic. Has a similar flavour to Star Anise, Fennel and Licorice. The seeds can be ground in a Pestle and Mortar and used in Jams and Compots.

Angelica~ Pagans believed that Angelica would protect against negative energies and and promote healing. Identified by its lovely large, star burst flowers. This ‘herb of Angels’, is actually a member of the Parsley family. Candied Angelica is popularly used to decorate cakes and desserts or to flavour Gin and sweet wines.

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Rose Geranium~With a very sweet, rosy scent with minty overtones; Rose Geranium has been used through the ages as an antidepressant. Excellent when used to infuse jams and preserves and can be used in many cakes and desserts.

Buckler Leaf Sorrel~The name supposedly derived from the French word for ‘sour’, Buckler Leaf Sorrel has a tangy, lemony flavour. It can be used in salads, as a garnish, in soups, or compliments fish excellently. Because of its strong taste, large quantities are not needed.

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Sheila’s Summer Pudding

One of our customer’s absolute favourites; this superb seasonal dessert is a real show stopper and is really quite simple to make.

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One Pudding serves two people. All you will need is the following:

An even amount of fresh Strawberries, Red Currants, Black Currants, Blueberries and Raspberries.

1Tbsp of Sugar

A splash of water.

A load of medium sliced White Bread.

Fresh cream and fresh Fruit to garnish.

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Begin by simmering the Strawberries, Red Currants, Black Currants and Blueberries in a saucepan, on the hob with a splash of water and the sugar. It is important that you don’t allow the mixture to boil. The fruit should become soft, but not mushy.

Once off the heat, add the Raspberries and leave the fruit to cool.

Meanwhile, cut out tops and bottoms for your puddings, using whatever vessel you are going to use for a mould as a guide (Sheila uses glass trifle bowls). Also cut out strips of bread to form the sides of your puddings.

When your fruit mixture has cooled, pour into a colander and capture the juice in another bowl. Soak your bread pieces in the juice. Do not throw any excess juice away; you will use it when serving your puddings.

Fit your bread pieces around the moulds and fill until they are bursting full of fruit. Place the bread lids on top.

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Find something flat, like a tray, to place over the top of the puddings and put something heavy top to weigh it down. Leave like this in the fridge for one day.

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Once the puddings have set, tip them carefully upside down and out of their moulds. Cut each pudding into quarters using two ‘triangular’ shaped quarters per dessert. Pour over some of the remaining juice and pipe freshly whipped cream between the slices. Garnish with fresh fruit.

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Aberaeron Seafood Festival July 2013

Aberaeron Seafood FestivalHead Chef Stuart Philips, has attended the Aberaeron Seafood festival for the last ten years. The festival takes place on the quayside of Aberaeron and is now established as a highlight on the Welsh food calender. Chefs present samples of their food using seafood, fish and local produce, all at £2.50 per portion. This money goes to cover the cost of the festival and is donated to local charities.This year, Henry, Jo and Stuart’s neighbours Mandy and Trevor (previous Masterchef  cookery class pupils) all joined him to help out.

The stall was set up by Henry, Mandy and Trevor with a lovely Beurre Blanc, spiced bean casserole with dill mustard and creme fraishe. Stuart and Jo arrived on Stuart’s motorbike, jumped out of their leathers, straight into whites and began cooking! They were soon knocking out Dill crushed new potatoes with Buckler Leaf Sorrel and Beurre Blanc and Hake Casserole with Turmeric spiced beans, Garlic butter and Lime and Coriander.

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There were boxes of iced fish neatly stacked from Debbie and Paul at Swansea Fish. A brilliant array of the best Welsh produce including Razor Clams, Langoustines, Cockles, Mussels, Hake, Bass and Monkfish. Henry was kept busy filleting and portioning, while Stuart kept on producing pan after pan of Bouillabaisse, Scallops with Chorizo, Langoustine with Fennel, Clam  and Mussel Risotto. Mandy was stirring and cleaning while Trevor was slicing and dicing!

It was a boiling hot day, with around 7000 visitors roving up and down the quay from stall to stall from 11am-4pm.

P1000913Stuart says, “It’s a great day out with a great bunch of chefs and helpers. I really enjoy seeing people tuck into the different dishes and answering questions as people peer into bubbling pots. Thanks again to Glynn and Menna for organising it all.”

For more information visit http://aberaeron.info/seafood/

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