Crispy Potato & Lamb Hotpot

Have you noticed how much attention we pay to the first...the first...anything, really. But in this context, the first blogpost of the year. Like a needy person, it demands your entire attention. It is important to get it right, to make sure that it will keep the readers entertained. It needs to reflect the correct trend and set the tone for the rest of the year.

On the other hand, the last post of the year could be ....whatever, nobody would notice as long as it ends with a resounding Happy New Year. Though in the case of the Crispy Potato & Lamb hotpot, to ignore it, would be a mistake. Take it as a Lancashire Hotpot which has had a make-over, with its potato swirl, it is very pretty. One of the most succulent dishes, I made this year. And last but not least it is very easy to here we go.

Crispy Potato and Lamb Hotpot
700g lamb leg steaks
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
225g carrots, diced
1 celery stick, diced
800g potatoes, not peeled and evenly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (plus extra sprigs)
50g black pudding, cut into chunks
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
500-600ml hot lamb stock
25g butter, melted

Heat a tbsp of the oil in a lidded casserole. Add the onions, carrots and lamb, fry for no more than 10 minutes until the meat turns brown and the onions are soft.
Season with black pepper and stir through the flour.

Add the bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce to the pan, stirring to catch any bits sticking to the bottom. Add the stock, bring to simmer then cook with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

Meanwhile, slice the potatoes as thinly as you can.

Take the casserole dish off the heat and arrange the potato slices upright on top, your slices will need to be in small stacks, don't bother to separate. Create a few swirls. Drizzle with the remaining oil, season with pepper and top with 2 sprigs of thyme.

Cover the dish and cook in the oven for 1h30 mins. Remove the lid and cook for another 45 minutes. The potatoes will turn brown. Sprinkle with thyme and parsley before serving.

Happy New year - Thank you so much for visiting in your thousands to read this blog in 2019 - Just last month there was just over 21 000 of you popping in, and that is a lot of people...Thank you again. Hope to see you soon

Review : The Bay Tree Hotel - Broadstairs

A 10 metres tall, magnificent bay tree standing in a gorgeous patio, inspired the name of this newly refurbished Broadstairs' Hotel. The tree is said to be the oldest, the largest of its kind in Kent....and I managed to blank it out. I swear, I never saw that beauty. Was I sick? yes, I was harbouring a nasty flu. But, there was no way I would pass the opportunity to re-visit Broadstairs where I was told a fabulous hotel had recently opened: The Bay Tree Hotel.

The Bay Tree Hotel - Broadstairs

The story starts in 2016, when owners Alistair Dixon and Robert Stone bought their dream Victorian house overlooking Stone Bay, a few minutes walk from Broadstairs' centre. Three years and a considerable financial investment later, the pair have got their hotel the way they imagined it: furnished with repurposed antiques, impeccably decorated, with 'a sprinkle of magic', but more about this later.

As we arrived, we were greeted by Ben standing on a stunning Minton floor. Ben is the couple's Bedlington Terrier, fast becoming a little star on social media.

Bedlington Terrier

The Rooms:
The hotel is comprised of 10 rooms, each named after British woods and many feature colours that reflect the sea and its surroundings. The balcony sea view room, English Oak, incorporates pastel blues to reflect the colours of the sea.

Alistair showed us to the Walnut Room which has a partial view of the sea through an Oriel window. The palette is grey, light aubergine with accents of yellow. My foggy brain refuses to register the connection between the colours and the named wood but my body almost flies to a comfortable, oh! so comfortable bed.

A visit to the en suite wet room later with its toiletry specifically designed for the Bay Tree and I'm as good as new. Down the 'magic staircase' again towards the library and the restaurant where Head Chef, Volodymyr Slobodyan is waiting for us. But, before meeting him let's pause for a minute.

The Magical Art Collection:

The hotel has partnered with Mina Lima, the official graphic prop designers of the Harry Potter films, to create a gallery of the artwork featured in the films.     Graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima met on the set of Harry Potter in 2001 and have worked together ever since to produce all the artwork and props for the Harry Potter and more recently, the Fantastic Beasts films.      The owners of the Bay Tree Hotel have purchased 132 limited edition prints of Lima’s  Harry Potter artwork. The limited-edition prints are on display in the staircase, lobby and hotel’s library, with the collection rotating throughout the year.   
The Restaurant:
Back to Head Chef who comes to think of has a name worthy of a J.K. Rowling's character and infectious energy. At the start, Vlod is slightly concerned about my ability to eat a 3-course meal. I quickly reassure him, 'It will take more than the flu to keep me away from my food...and I do intend to be cremated with a knife and fork, just in case.....'. He looks half-convinced before presenting us with a ramekin of olive which he cures himself. Trained by Angela Hartnett, he joined The Bay Tree restaurant in Summer 2018.

Our starters, a Parsnip and Apple Soup for my partner and Scallops on Butternut Squash and Pumpkin for me had a hint of sweetness and both dishes were pleasant. My dish took another dimension thanks to the Homemade Seed Pesto. That was genius


Our mains Dover Sole and Pan-Seared Cod followed the same pattern, classic English dishes with seasonal ingredients and an innovative side dish. In my case, the chunky piece of cod with freshly picked samphire was almost enough, its tagine although I understand why it was there and was extremely well executed didn't add much.

Each dish was paired specifically. But, I'll let you discover the pairings for yourself, the restaurant does a 5-course tasting menu with wine pairing. Moreover, one doesn't have to be a guest to enjoy the restaurant. It is open to all.

Next morning after a restorative porridge for me and a full English for him, it was time to say our good-byes to Ben with the secret promise to meet again, after all, I still have to see 'The Tree'.


Want to know more about Broadstairs? click here: not planning a visit to Ramsgate too? Click here

The Bay Tree Hotel at 12 Eastern Esplanade, Broadstairs. Call 01843 862 502 or click here for the website Twitter: @baytreehotel - Facebook: Bay Tree Hotel Broadstairs Instagram: Baytreebroastairs 
Disclaimer : I would like to thank the owners and Head Chef for their hospitality. Accommodation and dinners were provided in order to write this review. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.


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