What’s in the garden ?

Today it’s all about Rosemary. I think I’ve been inspired by my chat with Andy to find out a bit more about this gorgeously versatile Mediterranean herb.

Fragrant and feisty. This hardy herb is so easy to grow, and so useful in the kitchen.

Five facts about Rosemary

1.Wild Rosemary can be found on the cliff tops of Greece, France and Italy

2.Ancient Greeks believed that Rosemary could strengthen memory, a belief that persists today, with newspapers reporting record sales amongst keen students in 2016.

3.It is used in herbal medicine to cur baldness, toothache and headaches.

4. Rosemary is said to have been its name after a a story in which the Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush. When she removed it, the flowers had turned blue, which led to the shrub being know as  “Rose of Mary”.

5. Whilst it’s Mediterranean origins mean Rosemary is extremely drought resistant, careful watering is essential during the first year of growth, to allow the root system to mature.

Henry making sure the Rosemary supply doesn’t dry up !

We’re all familiar with Rosemary as part of our traditional roast dinner, but it has a host of other uses. Used creatively alongside unusual cuts, such as lamb belly it helps cut through the rich flavour of the lamb, giving a unique balance to the finished dish.  It also works in less traditional dishes, such as Moroccan braised lamb, combining complex layering of  Moroccan spices  and fragrant Rosemary gives an aromatic finesse, and showcases the marriage between Moorish and Mediterranean cuisine. One of my favourite ways to enjoy rosemary though is in a simple foccacia. For me it makes me think of long lazy lunches, holidays, and most importantly, sunshine.

Here’s the recipe, along with a photo of one I made earlier. I think it’s turned out quite well !

Fabulous Foccacia

Ingredients:

1kg Bread Flour/Strong flour                        1tbsp Virgin Olive oil

250g Potato mashed                                     5 Red Onions

15g Yeast                                                     6 Cloves garlic

750ml Water                                                 2oz Rosemary leaves

15g Salt

 

Method:

  1. Dilute yeast to paste with some water.
  2. Place flour, potato & salt in bowl
  3. Pour in wet ingredients and beat with a wooden spoon
  4. Cover dough and place in a warm area to rise – approx 1 hr
  1. When double in volume pour onto well oiled tray
  2. Slice 5 red onions and 6 cloves of garlic, sweat with 2oz of Rosemary leaves until tender
  3. When dough on tray has risen to about 1 inch in height tuck onion mixture into dough, sprinkle with salt flakes
  4. Bake at 185oC for approx 40 minutes

Good enough to eat !

 

 

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A chat with Andy Nicholls

Food is the cornerstone of the Hundred House. Not just any food though. Creative, yet comforting, the Hundred House kitchen produces an astonishing number of plates each week, covering all types of dining, from a memorable wedding feast to stylish lunch dishes that break up the monotony of the working week. I’m sure you are all familiar with the smiling face of  Stuart Phillips, but I thought you might like to find out a bit more about the rest of the super talented kitchen team. Here’s a little bit about our Head Chef, Andy Nicholls.

Head Chef Andy Nicholls,preparing for another busy lunch service.

HH When did you start working at the Hundred House?

AN When I was nineteen. I’ve been here for seven years now.

HH Was this your first job then?

AN No, I dreamt of being in the RAF, but sadly an ankle injury put paid to that. At the time, I was working part time in a kitchen, one night the chef phoned in sick, and they asked if I would step up. I did and I loved it!

HH What training have you had?

AN I spent two years at Radbrook in Shrewsbury. Part of my final year was a placement here at the Hundred House.

HH  Part of making the food at Hundred House so good is giving our chefs the opportunity to experience working in other restaurants. Which ones have you been to recently?

AN I spent a week at The Bell in Essex. As well as being incredibly busy, it is renowned for outstanding food. I worked on most sections from sauces to meat. My first lunchtime shift we did 65 covers!

HH  Wow! That’s throwing you in at the deep end! Are there any places that stand out?

AN  Coast at Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire is a stunning place. They share a lot of our values too, using loads of local produce, and having great food in a relaxed atmosphere. It wasn’t a busy time of year, but I had loads of opportunity to learn some new techniques.

HH  Ooh, that sounds exciting !

AN  It was. I learnt a lot about how to bring the best out of our ingredients. My favourites  were freeze drying, which intensifies flavour and  I learnt about making jellies to capture the essence of a particular ingredient, really make it sing as part of a dish. Lots of pastry techniques too, and I learnt how to make the perfect Crème Brulee. Steaming, instead of oven baking means it has the smoothest, silkiest texture you can imagine. Everyone should come and try it, they’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Divinely silky dish of  loveliness. My favourite way to round off a meal.

HH What is the best thing about working at the Hundred House?

AN  I love all the seasonal ingredients I can get from the garden. All the herbs from classic rosemary for lamb, to the zesty flavour of sorrel; it’s all there! I love how busy we are, and the buzz from that. My favourite thing though is creating new dishes.

HH  Are any of your creation on the menu now?

AN  Yes, at the moment there is Trio of Beetroot, which is Beetroot carpaccio, beetroot puree and pickled beetroot, paired beautifully with a goat’s cheese bonbon, and peppery rocket from the herb garden.  I’ve also done a new take on our Shropshire Lamb, using a roasted cutlet, braised belly and sautéed kidney, along with the sweetness of a roast onion puree and a tarragon caper jus.

Andy loves being able to choose from such range of fresh herbs in our gardens.

HH  That sounds amazing!

AN  It is. I love creating new dishes, I have so many ideas, I just need to find the time.

HH I’d better let you get back to it . Thank you for telling us a bit more about everything though. I can’t wait to try that lamb !

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Sunflowers

Regular visitors to our Facebook page might remember our sunflower competition last year. Our lovely guests helped us raise two hundred and forty pounds for  The  Riding for the Disabled Association,  just by sponsoring a sunflower ! It was a tense time waiting to see who would be awarded the tasty prize of dinner for four, as well as the glory of having the tallest specimen if sunny loveliness.

Henry with last years contestants.

Henry with last years contestants.

The good news is, we’re doing it again! We have have planted out our seedlings this week, so keep your eyes peeled for our competition on Facebook.

So tall !

So tall !

If you fancy growing your own happy giants, then Libby has given us three key tips

Position

As the name suggests, Sunflowers need sun, and lots of it. Choose the sunniest spot in your garden, a minimum of six to eight hours a day will help them reach their potential.

Support

At the Hundred House, we plant our Sunflowers against the same wall each year. The wall gives them support, and keeps them sheltered, as well as absorbing the heat of the day to stimulate growth.They brighten the day of everyone who passes by!

Time

Sunflowers are at their best by the end of July. We planted ours out on 23rd of May, which means they grow an incredible 8-12 feet in a few months. Hard working wonders of the plant world!

Morning !

Morning !

Sunflower Facts

  • Sunflower is the only flower with the word “flower” in its name.
  • Leaving the seed heads will attract a range of birds to your garden, and provide them with food when insects and grubs are scarce.
  • They can be converted to scrubbing heads; once the birds have snaffled the seeds, the empty seed head makes and excellent pot scrubber.
  • They were cultivated in the Americas as far back as 3000 B.C., and exported to  Europe by Spanish conquistadors in the sixteenth century.
  • In the language of flowers, Sunflowers stand for faith, loyalty and adoration. Doesn’t that work beautifully with our ethos here at the Hundred House?

Remember to follow us to have a chance of sponsoring your own piece of the Hundred House garden. And winning a delicious dinner!

Find out more about our charity RDA here http://www.rda.org.uk/

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A chat with Gardener Libby

Many people work to make the Hundred House a unique place to be. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be spending time getting to know them. I hope you’ll enjoy reading what I discover about  the people who make this such a special place to eat, and relax.

Dappled light highlights the blue and yellow planting scheme.

Dappled light highlights the blue and yellow planting scheme.

The gardens at the Hundred House are special. Thirty years of love and caring design have made a tranquil, beautiful environment. This same skilled design allows for productivity, which means we get to enjoy some of the freshest herbs and vegetables possible. It’s such a special space, you might imagine that their wonder is wrought through nothing but magic and dreaming.This is not so. A team of people work to sow, grow, snip and dig, with the goal of keeping our herb stocks full, and our gardens brimming with beauty.

To learn more about it all, I grabbed a coffee with our gardener Libby, to find out how she came to be part of the Hundred House, and what she loves about her role in the garden.

Persuading Libby to have her photograph taken was a challenge! She agreed, if I allowed the Lilies to take centre stage.

Persuading Libby to have her photograph taken was a challenge! She agreed,  but only if I allowed the Lilies to take centre stage.

HH How did you start working for the Hundred House?

Gardener Libby  I started thirty-one years ago. I was employed to help Sylvia, and did everything, from cleaning, to sanding down the tables for the bar. I remember my very first job was having to get all the salt rings from the woodwork on the bar tables!

HH Nowadays, you spend most of your time in the gardens. What sparked this interest?

Gardener Libby I love nature. I love all the things I see. I saw a black toad this morning! It is a special place, and I love to remember Sylvia whilst I’m working in the garden. My favourite place is the Herb Memorial Garden. At the right time of day, there is a certain slant of light through the trees, which I love. 

HH Do you prefer to be in the background?

Gardener Libby  Very much! I love doing the early morning clean, organising the housekeeping team, tending the garden and feeding Donk the donkey and Henry’s dogs.

HH How much has it changed ?

Gardener Libby I remember the Hundred House before the Phillips family came. It was like a working men’s club; cigarettes, beer, darts and dominoes. On Friday afternoons they used to set up a doctor’s surgery for the locals!

HH What is your favourite thing about the Hundred House ?

Gardener Libby My favourite thing is the picture that Sylvia made. It hangs in the bar, and is beautiful. 

Sylvia's picture will soon be joined by work from other local artists.

Sylvia’s picture will soon be joined by work from other local artists, for you to enjoy on your next visit.

It’s fair to say the Hundred House has changed a lot since those days. The loveliest thing about talking to Libby is the obvious love she has for her job, the Phillips family, and the magical gardens. I’m looking forward to getting regular updates from her about the day to day changes, and seeing what she thinks about our new eating space The Garden Room.

I’ll leave the last words to Libby, in the form of a poem she wrote for the time capsule we created when we restored the barn.

A poem to make you smile by Gardener Libby

I am a little Ray of sunshine

Getting all the weeds

Keeping people happy

Tending to their needs

 

I love the early mornings

When I have to clean

Listening to the songbirds

Whilst doing the latrines

 

 

Winters very different

Oh that dam alarm

Dark and creepy, eerie noises

Power don’t go off

Log fires burning

Empty ashes, careful their still hot!

 

I polish, sweep, hoover, dust

I love to scrub the yard,

First impressions are a must so scrub Libby very hard!

 

Into the Donkey stable I go

Sunshine, freezing, hail or snow

Toast for breakfast, hay and straw

Where’s the nuts? Just a little more

 

Take out the muck, sweep them clean

And spray for fleas, they’re real mean

 

Pick the herbs, fresh and quick

Before they drop and look real sick

Rosemary’s good, not into the wood, bay lasts long time

Some fever few flowers Anise, Mint and Thyme,

Stand back and look, yes, they are fine

 

Check on the girls, beavering about no time to chat just give them a shout.

Check they’re ok, no moans or groans or worries

Now, hoover the office, empty the bin, mind the computer! That’s plugged in

 

Pick the beans, tomatoes, cucumbers

Feed the birds whilst summer slumbers

Fleece up all the tender flowers from cold, stormy winter showers

 

Blue cloths, oven cloths all mixed up

Sort them all out, yuk!

Over to Yew Tree to get them washed, then into the dryer, it never stops!

 

Just a few of my daily tasks, to keep me employed is all I ask.

 

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What’s in the garden ?

Flaming June got off to a rather damp-squib like start,  but the rain has been very welcome in the garden. Combine that with glorious sunshine we’ve just had , and it’s fair to say everything in  our garden is  rosey !

So, what’s new  in the garden? Well, the forget-me-nots have been taken out (they self-seed, so they’ll  be just as beautiful again next year), and replaced with Jacob’s Ladder, and Marigolds. Marigolds are a fabulous companion plant. Their scent confuses the beetles and whitefly, and they enhance the growth of basil, courgettes and squash. Add to that the fact that they’re incredibly pretty, and they make the perfect edging for the herb garden.

Happy bedfellows. Marigolds distract pests and help other plants grow!

Happy bedfellows. Marigolds distract pests and help other plants grow!

We also use nasturtium as a companion for our brassicas, cabbage white butterflies love  to eat them, almost as much as they love cabbage. Planting a few rows of Nasturtium as a sacrificial plant means the brassicas have a chance of making it to our kitchen, and to your plate!

Nasturtium seedlings will soon be protecting our Brassicas !

Nasturtium seedlings will soon be protecting our Brassicas .

The flower garden is bursting with colour, red from the poppies, rich blue irises, a plethora of bedding and so many roses Libby can’t count them all. It’s a fabulous time to be here.

Geraniums are just some of the bedding that brightens every nook and cranny of the garden.

Geraniums are just some of the bedding that brightens every nook and cranny of the garden.

Stately Irises dot the borders.

Stately Irises dot the borders.

 

Peonies are the star of the garden in June

Peonies are the star of the garden in June

Of course, June has an abundance of weddings, and our gardens provide some of the table centre pieces. This week the centre pieces have included viola, chives, lemon balm and elderflowers. Almost good enough to eat!

Chive flowers; gorgeous to see,and to savour.

Chive flowers; gorgeous to see,and to savour.

From Herb Garden to House.

From Herb Garden to House.

I’ve really noticed the birdsong this week, it’s always beautiful, but the blackbird has been particularly exuberant this week! I think he’s warning off the woodpeckers.

Can you imagine a more perfect spot ?

Can you imagine a more perfect spot ?

The sight of Donk the donkey grazing, and Henry’s dogs lazing has made me quite sleepy…….it might be time for a nice relaxing G&T amongst the flowers I think.

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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!

Yard

“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

Going through - retouhced

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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Asparagus,asparagus, asparagus.

To me, there is nothing that says British summer more clearly than Asparagus. I imagine it says it in a rather nice, Joanna Lumley type accent too. It’s hard to describe the flavour; fresh, grassy, a faint hint of lemon, and then something that is uniquely Asparagus. I must confess I am a little in love with this little green spear of goodness.

Asparagus-blog-1

 

The asparagus you can experience at the Hundred House has an excellent pedigree, having been grown on Lodge Farm, part of the beautiful Dudmaston Estate, a mere five miles from the Hundred House. Like most of our suppliers, they are a family business, and specialists in what they do. Is it any wonder their produce tastes so wonderful? Add in the bittersweet brevity of the season, and you truly have a dish for a king. And a queen, of course.

Perfection

Perfect

 

Five facts about Asparagus

  1. It can protect your liver. The minerals and amino acids actually help to breakdown alcohol, giving you liver an easier time. Perfect for the start of a long,lazy lunch.
  2. It’s packed with antioxidants, so it can help you retain your youthful good looks.
  3. The official season is from 23rd April to 24th June; it goes past it’s best in heat of summer. Don’t be fooled by unseasonal imitations !
  4. It can be green, purple or white, all with subtly different flavours
  5. It is one of the loveliest things you can eat. *

*this may not strictly be a fact. But it is a jolly nice thing.

And finally (although I could write for days about this little green wonder), a stunner of a recipe, from the Hundred House kitchen

Mezze of Lodge Farm Grilled Asparagus, Beetroot Borrani, with Feta, pickled garlic and Olives

 

Asparagus

We buy our Asparagus from Caroline Lees of Lodge Farm in Quatt .It is normally available Mid-April to mid-June. For this recipe take 8 or so sprigs of Spruce Asparagus, rub with Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper & lemon juice. Drop on to a red hot grill, cook for 2-3 minutes,until lightly charred,then cool quickly to retain the beautiful green colour. Serve with fresh sorrel, land cress, Falafel, Feta, Olives & Beetroot Boriani and grilled Flat breads.

 

To make Beetroot Borani (serves 4)

4 Medium raw bunched beetroot (about 700g)

1 x small clove garlic, crushed to paste using salt

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp strained Greek Yogurt

2 tbsp Good quality aged red wine vinegar & pinch of sugar

50g Feta, crumbled

Wash beetroot (don’t peel), put in pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook until tender (top up water if required, when ready a knife should go through easily, approx 40 minutes). Drain & cool then blend in food processor (if you prefer texture don’t over blend).

Transfer in to a bowl, add garlic, yogurt, vinegar & pinch salt – mix.

Check seasoning and enjoy!

 

 

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What’s in the Garden ?

Glorious Gardens

May bounced into life. Glorious sunny days, trees are a hundred shades of green, and the swifts have returned, soaring higher than high.  And the best bit ?  I get to see it all from the perfect peace of The Hundred House herb garden. Sometimes I think I have the best job in the world.

Forget-me-nots lead the way to the Herb Garden

A cloud of  Forget-me-nots edge the path to The Hundred House Herb Garden.

 

Apple Blossom. Looks stunning, turns into apples which turn into divine deliciousness.

Apple Blossom. Looks stunning,turns into apples, which are turned into divine deliciousness by The Hundred House kitchen.Happiness actually does grow on trees.

Of course it’s not all wafting around through apple blossom, at least not for head gardener Denise Purnell.  This is the beginning one of the busiest times for a gardener, nurturing seeds, preparing beds and generally making sure that the stunning range of home grown ingredients available at The Hundred House is as abundant as ever. You’ve heard of field to fork and gate to plate?  This garden is literally steps from the kitchen. Steps. No wonder I can’t stop dreaming about the Salsa Verde.

So, what’s here today?  I can almost hear the seedlings growing, as the days get longer and the temperature inches up. Denise is getting ready to pot on, harden off, and eventually plant out. The range is incredible, way beyond the slightly depressed looking pots of green I see in the supermarket.

Cinnamon Basil

                                           Cinnamon Basil

I love Basil, it makes the simplest dish taste of holidays and sunshine. Cinnamon Basil was new to me, and it turns out it’s a bit of a wonder herb. It repels all sorts of nasties from precious tomato plants, keeps you safe from pesky mosquitoes,and tastes utterly divine in Goat’s cheese pesto or as a subtle flavour in a shortbread.

Garlic Chives

                                            Garlic Chives

 

 

Giant Parsley

                                          Giant Parsley

I’m more familiar with these two fellows. So much more than a whimsical garnish, these two feature at so many stages in so many dishes; sometimes so subtle you barely notice, but you’d notice if it wasn’t there. Herbs give so much they are worthy of being the main event, especially when they’re so wonderfully fresh.

Now,  remember that Salsa Verde ? Here’s a little bonus recipe for you to try tonight. It’s gorgeous with pretty much everything, but especially with barbecued meats, chicken or just over new potatoes.

Hundred House Salsa Verde

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Capers

6 Anchovies

3 shallots

1/clove garlic
1Tbsp Lemon juice
150ml Virgin olive oil

Method:
1.Puree all ingredients together
2.Add handful of parsley and any other sweet herbs available, e.g.rocket
3.Taste to make sure it is not bitter – if it is then add more lemon and olive oil.

There you are, a little bit of Hundred House magic in your own kitchen. I can’t wait to come and see what’s growing over the next few weeks !

Salsa Verde

 Fresh and vibrant Salsa Verde. Gorgeous with Chicken, drizzled over smokey charred steak, or to liven up new potatoes. 

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The Hundred House : looking back and looking forward.

Clear blue skies and the bulbs peeping above the ground are giving The Hundred House a feel that spring is on the way. We had a delightful time celebrating Christmas and New Year, and had a wonderful start to the year with a very romantic Valentine’s weekend.

I always find that this time of year puts me in a reflective mood, and one of the my main thoughts is what a significant twelve months this has been for The Hundred House.We have carried out extensive renovations and improvements, including a brand new thatch to our 15th Century Barn,and the installation of two new Biomass boilers .These boliers use  wood pellets as their fuel,which as a sustainable resource,means the boilers are carbon neutral. This reduction in reliance on imported fossil fuels, alongside choosing LED lighting and improvements to our cellar cooling processes are making vast improvements to our green credentials.  We are aiming to be truly green inside and out ! As with everything we do, we used a local firm Solid Future, of Ludlow, to oversee the project. We also have a beautiful log burning stove fires, to make sure of a thoroughly warm welcome where ever you are in the hotel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARange at Christmas

We are also developing our menus, working alongside the Apley Estate, to bring you some of their delicious and unusual produce.  We share many values and production principles,and the ideas that are emerging sound truly mouthwatering. Check back in March to find out more. In the meantime, have a look at apleyfarmshop.co.uk to get a sneak peek of the produce that is available.

Last year was also a very special year for the Phillips family.  Both Henry and Stuart celebrated significant birthdays, and of course, May brought the fabulous occasion of the wedding of Stuart and Joanne. I asked Jo to describe her lasting memory of the day ,and she described it as being ” full of joy and laughter”. I think that is a beautiful tribute to the  skilled team at the hotel.  As a guest I can confirm it was also full of tremendous food;it was no coincidence that the wedding was held at the height of Asparagus season!  A truly magical and memorable day.

What the day was all about

Jo and Stuart’s wedding began the wedding season in earnest,we held over 60 weddings over the last year and have over 75 to look forward to this year. The Hundred House is going to be a romantic place to be and to visit during 2015.Mr & Mrs Phillips Original-1214

 

Soft pink chair ties provide a subtle unity to the colour scheme.

 

Our memorable year was completed by the honour of winning the Best Posh Nosh category in the Spotlight Awards. These awards are voted for by thousands of Shropshire Star readers. All of our awards fill us with absolute delight, but this one is extra special, because it is such direct feedback from our guests.

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It really has been an amazing year here at The Hundred House, and the best thing is, we have so much more excitement to look forward to. All our upcoming events including our famous Gourmet Nights, and Masterchef classes are updated on our website regularly. We look forward to seeing you soon .

 

 

 

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Herbs at The Hundred House

Last year, Stuart visited  Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons; as well as learning new techniques for creating unusual and delicious breads, Stuart was also introduced to some new varieties of exotic herb. This sparked ideas for redevelopment of the herb garden, which has been an important part of The Hundred House since it began. Construction started about two months ago, with the creation of 14 raised beds.As with everything at The Hundred House, it was a fabulous team effort, including the help of Ron,who took part in the original refurbishment in 1985. Henry and Stuart decided to use a raised bed system, which allows for easier management of the variety of herbs used. This means a greater range of herb plants can be grown,which turn provides an array of new flavours and menu inspiration.
Henry starting work on the new raised beds

Henry starting work on the new raised beds

Ron, described by henry as "the best bricklayer in the world", using his many skills to help in the construction of the beds

Ron, described by Henry as “the best bricklayer in the world”, helping with construction.

During my day at The Hundred House, I was able to spend time with their resident  plant expert and gardener, Denise, who describes herself as passionate about growing. Her joy and enthusiasm for the garden  is infectious, and I came away with some useful tips for growing herbs at home. Denise explained that herbs are an ideal project  for a new gardener, or if space is limited. Many herbs are Mediterranean in origin, so they are tolerant of dry conditions,and  are happy in grow in pots or window boxes. Herbs can also provide attractive and useful borders for flowerbeds. Their only special requirement is lots of sun. She also passed on an excellent piece of advice which was to to grow only what I like to eat !

What a difference a few months make !
What a difference a few months make !
New herbs and salad leaves, almost ready to be used
New herbs and salad leaves, almost ready to be harvested

Denise explained that the new beds include edible flowers, such as nasturtium and viola, which are delicious in salads, as well as unusual varieties of coriander, and oriental greens, alongside less common examples of familiar varieties, such as thyme,fennel and mint.
Komatsuna leaves, which can be used in a range of salads soups or stir fries, giving a spicy,vibrant flavour.

Komatsuna leaves, which can be used in a range of salads soups or stir fries, giving a spicy,vibrant flavour.

Lemon Corainder is just beginning to emerge. This will be used for Moroccan inspired dishes such as Tagines,and fragrant couscous.

Lemon Coriander is just beginning to emerge. This will be used for Moroccan inspired dishes such as Tagines,and fragrant couscous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations of familiar herbs , such as garlic chives are included.

Variations of familiar herbs , such as garlic chives are included in the new herb garden.

A range of beetroot will form part of many exciting dishes.

A selection of  beetroot will form part of many innovative  dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new herb garden is part of the ongoing development of The Hundred House, and as Denise says, there are very few eating establishments that can boast such an extensive culinary garden. She really enjoys the fact that she has been part of the process of the creation of the food served here.

One of the most special things about the gardens at The Hundred House is that they contribute to the unique experience of being a guest. Whether dining or staying in one of the luxurious rooms, guests are free to wander through the gardens,relishing the peaceful atmosphere. Being able to see exactly how local the ingredients are, is an added bonus.The Hundred House herb garden was a charming place to spend the afternoon, and I’m looking forward to sampling some of the new dishes. Perhaps I can be chief taste tester for the next blog !

Beautiful, calm surroundings

Calm and relaxing

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