Heston’s pub: the Hinds Head.

The lynch gate at Bray Church

Lynch gate at Bray Church

This Easter Sunday we pootled off to Bray, just to see what the Fat Duck looked like, and the Heston pub. Really surprised at how small the Fat Duck looks from the outside, and amused by the signage – which looks like 3 kitchen utensils, but one is a ducks leg. Very Heston. Just on the off chance, we went into The Hinds Head, which was heaving, but a charming maitre d’ suggested the The Crown, ‘our sister restaurant’. We had no idea another Blumenthal venue existed in Bray. That was heaving, too, but seemed a nice pub, so we stood at the bar for a glass of wine and observed.

On Easter Monday, we rang the Hinds Head, just on the off chance, and amazingly, got a table for 2 at 1.00, downstairs, which I gather is preferable. So off we trotted again to Bray.

The whole experience was pretty perfect. The staff were very professional, but not haughty, as we’d found the Maze staff.  The waiter took the trouble to confirm our name, and everything went swimmingly.

The bar at Heston Blumenthal's Hinds Head

The Hinds Head bar

I thought my starter of tea-smoked salmon was very generous, and had a good intensely smokey flavour. I loved the little ‘hairnet’ the lemon came in, to stop pips falling into the food. That really was attention to detail.

Tea smoked salmon by Heston Blumenthal at Hinds Head

Tea smoked salmon

Lemon with a hair net at Blumenthal's Hinds Head

Lemon with a hair net.

Beetroot and goat curd dish at Heston Blumenthal's Hinds Head

Beetroot and goat curd with cider poached pear and pumpkin seeds.

The ladies loo was immaculate, and charmingly decorated with shabby chic frames of British royalty. Perhaps as a reflection of the fact Prince Philip had his stag do here in 1947. Before singing telegrams or strippers dressed as policewomen existed, presumably.

A framed pic of The Queen in the loo at Blumenthal's Hinds Head.

In the ladies loo.

Tim was slightly disappointed with his steak, which although cooked exactly as requested, medium rare, he felt lacked flavour, and wondered if it was overwhelmed by the gelatinous, umami-rich marrow sauce. The triple cooked chips were nice and crunchy, but didn’t have the fluffy interior that Tim had achieved when he did the Heston recipe one morning. (For some season one morning Tim got up at sunrise to start cooking triple cooked chips. Chips in the morning are quite a strange thing to be woken to. But they were good.)

Heston Blumenthal's Ribeye steak with bone marrow sauce

Ribeye with bone marrow sauce

Heston Blumenthal's famous triple cooked chips

Heston Blumenthal’s famous triple cooked chips

Loin and cheek of Cornish cod.

Cod and cod cheek were good, too.

I enjoyed the Chocolate Wine slush, and the Millionaire’s shortbread accompanying it was lovely. Tim had a chocolate dessert with ice cream, which he found a little rich.

Bluementhal's chocolate wine slush and millionaire shortbread

Chocolate wine slush and millionaire’s shortbread

Heston Blumenthal's dessert at the Hinds Head

Whipped chocolate with biscuit and hazlenut ice cream

It’s certainly somewhere we’d go back to, the atmosphere was nice and the food, of course, near perfect.

the Hinds Head menu

Hinds Head Menu

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Easter lamb.In search of family history, we find a fantastic local butcher.

We’re still not back in town, as we’ve things to do in Buckinghamshire. So today we had a wander further out past Amersham. We went in search of family history, in the Churchyard at Princes Risborough. I’ve generations of family from here, but I don’t remember ever visiting here.  It was quite an odd feeling to find the gravestones of a great grandfather, and other long gone relatives.

Then we went on to a fabulous smart looking, family run local butcher, in the High Street. They source their local lamb from Thame, and Pork from Princes Risborough, so we bought both, and some local eggs.

For this dish, Tim decided to caramelise some lemons. of course lemon and lamb are a classic combination in Kleftiko, which apparently means stolen lamb. caramelising the lemons gives a result that is much smoother and sweeter. the caramelised onion went into yoghurt to make a dressing for some charlotte potatoes. Tim roasted pepper and onions with thyme, for a side vegetable.

The lamb was tender and flavourful, really good. We’ll be back again.

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Princes Risborough butchers. A family run business.

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Caramelising lemons.

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Having a butchers.

Easter Lamb

Black pudding with hummus, pinenuts and dried fruit

Coriander.
Marmite.
Black pudding.

Like coriander, black pudding is one of those ingredients that divides people into two camps. And I, (Linda) am in the camp with the people with the bargepoles. Whilst Tim is in the camp with the frying pans at the ready.

I remember a version of this recipe that Tim used to do as a tapas with minced lamb, based on a Moro recipe, which I loved.

I also remember Tim doing this for friends in the deli with crumbled black pudding, and seeing some people tuck in happily thinking it was mushrooms. At least this way people know it’s black pudding. The rest of the dish I love. I love the mixture of toasted pine nuts with hummus, and the odd burst of sweetness from the dried fruits.

Tim likes to make his own hummus, but he says that’s for another day. This black pudding came from a butcher in Totnes, with big white pieces, and not overly spiced with cinnamon and cloves etc.

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Black pudding and hummus notes

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Black pudding & hummus

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Which goes well with Leffe.Ah, Leffe.

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Do the Butter Walk. Totnes.

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Black Pudding & Hummus going down well.

Scary looking fish in scary sauce. Ling in a spring nettle sauce.

Well, looks aren't everything.

As far as fish go, Ling isn’t much of a looker. A member of the cod family, it has a massive head and long, tapered body, with marbled brown and white skin markings and a silver underside. If this fish was on a double date with its cousin the cod, it would be the gormless one with the too short trousers, and teeth braces. A kind of Ugly Betty of the sea. Or Plug, from the Beano (more my era). But the meat is lovely – large meaty flakes, and sweet flavour.

Ling on the fish counter.

Ling is a fish at risk from over fishing, so do try to find certified sustainable sources. Pollack or coley is a sustainable alternative. This ling came from a fishmonger in Devon, who’s joined HFW’s ‘Fish fight.’ The fishmonger said this is quite a small ling, they can be enormous – up to 2 meters long.

Stinging nettles are the highest plant source of iron, and are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and protein. The nettles’ stinging ability disappears when the nettles are cooked.

My childhood horror - stinging nettles.

Blanched nettles.

Ingredients:

2 thick fillets of ling, about 200g each

For the sauce:

1 large tomato

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 tablespoon of capers

1 onion

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil

50g butter

A handful (a gloved handful!) of nettles

Skin and pin bone the fish. Season the ling fillets with salt and pepper.

Blanch the nettles for 40 seconds, by pouring boiling water over them in a pan. Combine the drained nettles, garlic, onions, capers in a hand blender jug and whizz into a kind of nettle pesto. Take out and reserve a couple of tablespoons. Add the tomatoes and olive oil and whisk by hand to amalgamate the sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the ling fillets. Cook for three to four minutes then turn the fillets and fry for a couple of minutes until the fish is just cooked through. To serve, place the sauce onto a plate, place the fish on top and spoon over some of the reserved nettle ‘pesto’. Serve with some proper bread.

Ling in spring nettle sauce.

Big meaty flakes of fish.

Mystery olives

Tim was telling me today about the olives that his grandmother called ‘Golimbadez’. They were massive, meaty olives, that she would spend hours preparing,and months brining, replacing the salty water regularly, to remove bitterness. Tim, as a little kid, would sit for hours slitting them as his Gran wanted.

I’ve tried to look them up on the intertubes, but not found anything. If you have any idea whether the spelling is wrong, let us know. His grandmother used to do this in Karalanalou, Northern Cyprus.

Talking about preparing the olives today, as a kid, unleashed many other memories. Tim recalled how he used to go to his Grandmother’s work in Limassol, on the other side of Cyprus – in an ice cream factory. What bliss for a child of 4! He was allowed to dip the ice creams into the molten chocolate, to keep him amused while his gran was working. It all sounds a bit Charlie and The Chocolate Factory to me. And later, he would help his grandmother make pastirma sausages – a kind of air dried beef.

These types of olive were the largest, and the most prized ones. It was all a bit secretive about their location, as there would not be many of them of this size.

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Massive olives

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Golimbadez notes

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Olives in the sunshine.

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Meaty mystery olives