In the kitchen garden at Rufflets we are enjoying the first of our strawberry harvest just in time for the Championships, Wimbledon. Along with collecting the daily harvest from the garden, David Kinnes, head chef also forages in the woodland surrounding the hotel for wild strawberries. Much of what is grown (and foraged) finds its way onto the menus at Seasons Restaurant. The vibrant, sweet flavour of wild strawberries are perfect in the strawberry and mascarpone tart on the current lunch menu.
It’s a shame we have become accustomed to eating strawberries throughout the year. Imported strawberries which are now available in supermarkets out of season are picked while they are slightly under-ripe to ensure they don’t turn into mush during transportation, which means they are often hard and have an underdeveloped flavour. Strawberries do not ripen once picked so in an attempt to supply us with this popular fruit year-round we tolerate a much poorer imitation of in-season British strawberries. This month is the time to savour home-grown!
July and August we enjoy most in the kitchen garden. Traditionally they are the warmest months and with longer days there are added daylight hours to keep up with the harvest as well as planning for the late Autumn.
Phil Harper our head gardener has been picking lots of herbs and salads to supply the kitchen team. Various types of lettuce, red and Swiss chard, as well as spinach are all incorporated into dishes on the Seasons menu. In addition to the strawberries we are using on our breakfast buffet every morning, many of the other soft fruits are ready to harvest. Red and black currants will be used to create sauces and garnishes for desserts as well as creating refreshing sorbets and home-made jams for breakfast and afternoon tea to enjoy alongside freshly-baked scones. Towards the end of July, we also expect to begin harvesting raspberries and tayberries which will be used in our afternoon tea menu.
If the spell of good weather we have been enjoying in St Andrews continues, we anticipate that the beetroot, carrots, onions, leeks and baby potatoes which were sown, will also be ready to pick. Our kitchen is using the garden leeks on the current menu with halibut and beetroot and also in our twice baked St Andrews cheddar soufflé.
In the glasshouses and polytunnels, tomatoes and courgettes will follow suit towards the end of July along with lots of cabbages, kale, cauliflower, broccoli and courgettes that the kitchen team look forward to transforming into dishes like roast cauliflower panna cotta and slow cooked cabbage with cured pork belly.
Our gardening team work all year round to provide the kitchen with a steady supply of fresh produce and there is no opportunity to rest on our laurels. Planning for the late Autumn has begun in earnest and our gardening team is already sowing seeds for next Spring.
When you are next visiting Rufflets, please take a stroll through our beautiful grounds and kitchen garden, where our home grown produce starts its journey, or book a table for lunch or dinner and enjoy delicious food at its freshest from garden to plate. Feel free to browse our summer menus.