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Meeting Cliveden chef André Garrett

PUBLISHED: 10:53 21 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:10 21 November 2017

André Garrett has been at Cliveden for nearly four years © Maureen McLean

André Garrett has been at Cliveden for nearly four years © Maureen McLean

© Maureen McLean. All Rights Reserved

The executive chef never gets in a pickle and is turning his thoughts to local game and Christmas surprises

We’ve pushed the boat out this month and sailed down the Thames to Cliveden – perfect for our theme of visiting the neighbours as the stunning hotel sits on the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire border, writes Jan Raycroft

But we find ourselves travelling quite some distance from there in a chat with executive André as he shares his current fascination: pickling and fermenting. He’s thinking about potential Christmas menus surprises – perhaps along the lines of oysters poached in the fermented juice of kohl rabi – “It’s something you can work in your own way” and other possibilities.

His pickle journey has been going on for nearly a year since a gastronomic trip across The Pond with the Roux family which took them to California. There they called into organic specialists The Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley where classic sauerkrauts and seasonal specialities sit alongside Japanese pickled treats such as daikon (mild white winter radish) in rice bran.

So the extraordinary variety of the planet’s pickles and how you might make the most of them in the exquisite dishes served in the Cliveden dining room are always in his head, but for now thoughts of autumn and winter menus take priority after a very busy summer. And for those we come very much closer to home, the countryside estates, particularly around our two counties borders with Oxon.

While grouse will undoubtedly feature as a special, he’s a big admirer of Mike Robinson (The Pot Kiln) and his partner Brett Graham for the finest wild venison: “British produce comes into its own with game and particularly the local wild venison,” he says. Chestnuts, blackberries, braised venison, boulangère potatoes (we are talking the ultimate Cliveden-style ‘shepherd’s pie’ perhaps).

With that he headed back to his kitchen to produce a ‘one-off’ extraordinary taster menu for us of nine courses, taking into account that I had to be gluten-free. But this was not going to get André into a pickle, a close family member is in the same boat.

The most stunning dishes arrived, accompanied by the sommelier’s expert wine choice. In a stand-out menu it’s hard to pick favourites, but two fish courses were particularly memorable: sea bass served with apple caviar and a shellfish velouté; and finest Cornish turbot allowed to reveal all its flavour with courgette, tomato and a lemon butter sauce.

The current regular taster menu (£97.50, wine pairing £75) is also highly recommended for a very special occasion. Here you’ll find Portland crab, that amazing turbot, Devon rack of lamb served with miso aubergine, spouting broccoli, green olive and rosemary jus, plus our local cheese star of the show, Barkham Blue.

However, an adventure at Cliveden need not be that expensive. The market menu means you can do lunch from £33 and dinner from £55 – great value as you get to sit in the magnificent restaurant overlooking the grounds.

Our tip is to arrive early and enjoy a walk around the estate and view the hotel’s splendid public areas as The National Trust require £7 per person for lunch (£2 at dinner) to be added to bills unless you are a member.

www.clivedenhouse.co.uk

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