The changing seasons are an opportunity for our chefs to work with exciting new produce and seasonal flavours to create delicious new dishes for our guests. We sat down with our Head Chef, Damian, to find out his plans for our new menu, and to learn more about the ingredients that he loves to work with.
As we leave summer behind and autumn approaches, the dishes we produce change direction. We start to incorporate preserved produce from the last couple of years to bring fresh flavours to autumnal dishes and to keep the balance between those acidic and rich tones. We’re still using the 2017 vintage blackcurrant and elderflower vinegars that we made when I first arrived at Seaham Hall.
The meat that we see on the menu will start to change to pull in hearty flavours. I love working with wild game from Northumberland, especially pigeons and mallards. Our beef has been ageing in a salt chamber for the last few months to improve its texture and bring out those rich flavours. As we progress further into winter, we’ll start to move away from using whole lambs and switch to hogget and mutton.
It’s not only our meats that change, though. Our daily fish deliveries mean that no matter the season, we’ll continue to adapt the menu to ensure we use the best quality fish.
One of my favourite things to do in the colder weather is to use the leftover charcoal embers after we’ve cooked our meats. We place whole, unpeeled root vegetables into the smouldering embers and then gently cook them for around ten hours. This produces a super intensified flavour with a slightly chewy texture and a hint of smokiness. For me, this is the best way to cook autumn vegetables, and it’s when the humble carrot shines as bright as any other high-end ingredient.
Our dessert menu will change significantly over the next few months as we move onto store cupboard ingredients like caramels, chocolate and spices. Apples, pears and quince are perfect for comforting desserts, but we also have some wonderful lacto-fermented plums, gooseberries and a few other foraged bits saved for the coming months. We’ll also be creating an intense pine oil using fir and spruce shoots to pair with the resin we made a couple of years ago. Of course, we’ll still be working with super fresh ice cream made with the finest organic cream and milk from Garthorne Farm.
Keep your eyes peeled over the next few months to see what we’re creating in the kitchen and for tips on how to cook delicious seasonal food in your own home.