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Kent Life - - Food And Drink -

onion tartlets. The su­perb pas­try boded very well for later and I thor­oughly ap­prove of hot savoury ad­di­tions to a typ­i­cally sweet feast.

Our plan to stride across the es­tate and burn off the calo­ries was thwarted by driv­ing wind and rain, so we ex­plored our quar­ters in­stead. I was in the heav­ily beamed Blen­heim Suite in the oast house, which had its own re­cep­tion area and en­trance and up­stairs a grand four-poster, clev­erly de­signed roundel bath­room with a lovely cus­tom-made round bath and a sec­ond bath­room with shower.

The Tiny One, ap­pro­pri­ately, was in cute Pip­pin (all rooms are named after ap­ple varieities) in one of three suites at Pond Cot­tage, the for­mer sta­ble block hous­ing in the grounds of the main farm­house.

Din­ner later was cour­tesy of one of Her Majesty’s for­mer chefs, so we felt highly priv­i­leged and won­dered as we crunched across the gravel if we should have packed tiaras.

We needn’t have wor­ried. Ser­vice in the two AA Rosette res­tau­rant was warm and friendly, led by young mananger Ben Jef­freys, and we were soon tuck­ing into Kevin’s sea­sonal seven-course taster menu us­ing pro­duce mainly grown, shot and sourced on the farm.

My Petite Friend doesn’t eat meat so her side of the table was more fish than fowl, but we both par­tic­u­larly en­joyed the pan­roasted cod with mus­sel chow­der, mine served with pancetta, MPF’s with spinach. The crisp yet flo­ral Chapel Down English Rose was an in­spired ac­com­pa­ni­ment.

A deep red Ruffino Chi­anti com­ple­mented the rich­ness of the dam­son sauce served with my es­tate par­tridge, while a glass of El Mon­turo Tem­pranillo went down a treat with MPF’s equiv­a­lent main of crispy skinned sea bass with confit potato, ca­pers and cour­gette.

Bid­den­den cider sor­bet then gave us a clever, lo­cal, re­fresh­ing pause be­fore a clas­sic pear belle Hélène and Kentish cheese­board fi­nale.

In the morn­ing, after peace­ful sleeps with only the sound of bird­song to wake you, the sun fi­nally de­cided to ap­pear and gave a lovely warm glow to the barn’s cen­tral break­fast buf­fet spread. Fruit was fol­lowed by two per­fectly poached eggs on good crunchy whole­meal toast and lots of tea.

A re­lax­ing, restora­tive visit – and hope­fully next time we’ll also get to ex­pore the wider es­tate.

Kevin Ben­nett

head chef

I’m mar­ried to Hay­ley and we have two lovely daugh­ters Matilda and Elodie. I grew up 20 min­utes away in Ash­ford and started my for­mal train­ing at East­well Manor. At 19, I went to work un­der The Roux Brothers at the Water­side Inn at Bray. After 18 months I moved to Lon­don to be one of The Queen’s per­sonal chefs. I then went to The Dorch­ester to work un­der the renowned chef Alain Du­casse. I have been the head chef at Frasers now for a year. South Coast fish, Hinx­den Farm Dairy, Sand­hurst, David Catt and Sons Veg­etable Pur­vey­ors, Chart Sut­ton and The Vil­lage Green Butch­ery, Bethers­den. The duck with Vic­to­ria plum and mush­room; it rep­re­sents the ethos of Frasers on a plate. The duck is sourced from the es­tate by the own­ers’ son Wil­liam, plucked by Hedgerow Game, a small in­de­pen­dent lo­cal busi­ness, smoked in a home-made smoker with hay from our farm – and to top it off the plums are gifted from a neigh­bour! Source the finest qual­ity lo­cal in­gre­di­ents – don’t scrimp. Neil Wig­gins from East­well Manor and The Queen’s Chef Mark Flana­gan. Both in­vested in me and ded­i­cated their time to en­sure that my ca­reer pro­ceeded on the right path. Three Wheatabix and half a pun­net of blue­ber­ries.

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