Simon King, chef/proprietor at 1861, which is located in the pretty hamlet of Cross Ash, near Abergavenny, has made a huge success of the restaurant he runs with his wife, Kate.
Having cut his teeth with the Roux Brothers at their famous three Michelin star restaurant on the Thames, and worked with star chef Martin Blunos for seven years, he went on to become head chef at luxury country house hotel, Llansantffraed Court.
Simon and Kate have built upon their wealth of hotel and restaurant experience to offer guests a gourmet menu at 1861, combining fine food with just the right balance of friendly, personal service.
The couple run 1861 with the help of a loyal and highly capable local staff.
Simon is also a great forager, and his wild garlic risotto has become a firm favourite, along with his elderflower fritters.
Nothing is too much trouble for Simon – he even smokes his own duck in the 1861 cellar. The duck, along with all beef, lamb and pork, is sourced from local farms, while fish comes fresh each day from Brixham.
Here he shares some seasonal recipes with readers.
“I love strawberries – to me they epitomise summer with their heady fragrance, amplified by the warmth of the sun,” says Simon.We are lucky that over the last couple of summers, we have had some decent weather. Nothing kills a strawberry quicker than damp weather and the attendant slugs.If you decide to pick your own, go on a fine day, as rains leaches the flavour out of them.Strawberries, as we all know, are gorgeous with cream, but they are very versatile and have a great flavour when lightly poached.Just cook them very gently in a little caster sugar, the juice will slowly seep out and the strawberries will cook gently in the juice. My family’s current favourite is poached strawberries teamed with rice pudding, which, when made with cream, is far from being a utilitarian dish.
A combo of raspberries and strawberries is also a palate teaser, as the varying degrees of sweetness, and the different textures, make for a lively marriage.As a keen forager, wild strawberries are a true prize for me. Although they are tiny, their flavour is intense, and that’s made all the more delightful as you eat as you gather.Like blackberries, freshly picked and crammed in the mouth, is the way to go with wild strawberries!”
Strawberry and mascarpone cheesecake
For the base: 100g digestive biscuits + 75g unsalted butter
Place the digestive biscuits in a bowl and using the end of a rolling pin crush into biscuit crumbs. Melt the butter and mix into the biscuit crumbs. Press the mixture into the bottle of your moulds and place into the fridge to set.
250g mascarpone cheese125g ripe strawberries125mls double cream60g caster sugar
Hull the strawberries and mash with a potato masher or a ricer. Mix the strawberry pulp with your mascarpone. Whip the cream and sugar to a soft peak and fold into the mascarpone mix.
Spoon the mix into your moulds and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.
Remove from the mould and decorate with fresh strawberries and serve with yogurt, cream or ice cream.
“So often salad is something that needs to be dutifully munched through, but it needn’t be like that,” says Simon. “You can put almost anything in a salad to jazz it up, from fruit such as banana and peach, to thinly sliced vegetables like courgette, edible flowers such as nasturtium, and toasted nuts and seeds. Whizz up a simple dressing with olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar, and you are away.”
“Salads are also quick to prepare, nourishing and wholesome, and definitely don’t need to be confined to hot weather.”
Nettle leaves contain both iron and Vitamin C, and are also reputed to contain serotonin, hence the reputation nettles have as a tonic.
“You can use nettles in risotto , soup and quiche,” he says. “You can also infuse them in vinegar which is then perfect to use as a salad dressing.”[divide color=”#934c0e”]
Goat cheese and pickled beetroot salad
250g goat cheese log
12 baby beetroot cooked and peeled
250 mls white wine vinegar
250g caster sugar
1 tsp pickling spices- peppercorns, coriander seeds, dried chilli, mustard seeds, bay leaf, sprig of thyme
100g salad leaves, flowers and petals
Drop of olive oil
Boil the vinegar, stir in the caster sugar and the pickling spices, pour over the cooked beetroot and leave to cool overnight. The beetroot can be eaten straight away but will improve by storing in a cool dark place for 1 month.
To serve slice the goat cheese into 12 even slices . Place 3 slices on each plate and accompany each slice with a pickled beetroot. Toss the salad leaves in a little olive oil and the vinegar from the beetroot, season and divide between four plates.[divide style=”dashs” icon=”circle” color=”#e0a624″]
South Wales NP7 8PB
Telephone 0845 388 1861