When I started my holiday cottage business in the middle of the rural Suffolk countryside I had no idea that one day we would be hosting a fine-dining Pop Up Restaurant experience that would prove so popular. Now a bi-annual event every Spring and Autumn, over the course of a weekend to true foodie heaven with Michelin Star trained Chef Mark Peters. And all in the setting of my 500 year old Suffolk farmhouse holiday cottage. The next event is in November 2015, with dinner on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th November, and Sunday lunch on the 15th. Just £65 for seven, mouth-watering courses!
Firstly, I take my hat off to Mark and the whole of the catering industry. Mark offers a bespoke Chef service for guests numbering from 2 to 180 and I don’t know how he does it. We only have the room to serve around 22 people each service but as they tuck in to a mouth-watering seven courses it’s still hard work for our small team. There is an awful lot of furniture moving before and after the event, which doesn’t help but these two weekends are the most tiring of my year! So to anyone working hard in the catering and hospitality industry, I genuinely salute you. I used to own a restaurant and I’d forgotten how physically demanding it is!
So, let’s give you the November 2015 Menu and then you can read lots more about the event if you wish;
Bucks Fizz served with Seared Tuna & Sesame Seed Canapés
Amuse Bouche of Baby Leek & Morel
Purple Kale & Ginger Soup, Coconut, Avocado & Coriander
Crispy Hake Fillet, Scallop Tortellini, Celeriac & Lime,
Pink Champagne Sorbet shot with Vanilla dressed Blackberries
Lavender Smoked Lamb Rump, Pea Puree, Black Garlic Risotto
Tiramisu, Coffee Ice, Mascarpone
A fabulous cheese course from the Earsham Street Deli in Bungay
Coffees, Teas, Chocolates
This event really has grown organically from our first one. We’ll hold our hands up and say that whilst the diners all enjoyed themselves, we are a lot more organised now! I’m really lucky to host this event as a joint venture with Mark. Not only is he an amazing chef and highly organised but we have also become firm friends over the last few years and we have such a scream over these weekends
For those who haven’t experienced what we offer, it’s a very relaxed, fine-dining event;
You arrive through the courtyard garden into the kitchen and see Chef Mark Peters at work. We then serve bucks fizz and canape’s before seating you. The surroundings of Woodfarm House just make it very homely, which seems to be a welcome change from the norm of eating out. You have your own table but there is a tendency for guests to mingle and chat over the bucks fizz, which again adds to the informality. This, coupled with the rustic charm of my beautiful old beamed farmhouse seems to set a very unique tone. It’s a bit like a large dinner party with friends
Our first Pop Up this year was from the 27th February to the 1st March. We always serve dinner on the Friday and Saturday night and then Sunday lunch, which is a great way to round it off. You can simply choose which one you would like to attend. The menu this time was as follows;
Bucks Fizz served with Cumin Cured Gravadlax on Focaccia upon arrival
Amuse Bouche of Smoked Duck Breast, Lemon & Chai Compote
Sweet Fennel Salad, Hot & Cold Beet Textures
Thai Green Dover Sole Mousse, Marinated Lobster, Coriander Broth
Apple Sorbet Palette Cleanser with Aspal Cider
Charred Prime Beef Fillet, Bell Pepper Puree, Spinach & Oregano Pasta
Tiramisu, Pistachio Parfait, Apricot Coulis & Madeira
Suffolk Cheese taster Course, as ever courtesy of the
A selection of local cheeses, from as close as four miles from our holiday cottages!
Coffees & Teas with Truffles
Once our guests are winding down with their coffees I let Chef out of the kitchen to come and hear what people think of their meal and I have to say, this was his finest menu to date, with so much incredible feedback and 30% of our diners having been before! Some diners were on their 3rd or 4th Pop Up!
Holiday cottage guests
I have worked hard for years to build a solid base of guests returning time and again to my holiday cottages. They love the luxury, cosiness, tranquility and the wonderful walks on our doorstep. We are dog friendly, which is a massive part of our market as so many dog owners struggle to find high quality self-catering holiday cottage accommodation that allow dogs. As well as the Tripadvisor Certificate of excellence for consistent Five Star reviews, I was awarded the Visit England Gold Award for all seven of my holiday cottages in 2014 so we are clearly balancing the dog friendly bit with cleanliness and luxury. And now, a trusty band of these discerning people have another reason to keep coming back, with a number of them putting the event in their diary as soon as we announce it
Suffolk business people
Other than the food, the thing that really struck me this time was the amount of Suffolk businesses represented here. This was a real boost for me as previously to hosting the Pop Up, none of my business came from Suffolk. My holiday cottage guests come from far and wide to luxuriate in my cottages and our beautiful county, so I wasn’t used to local people even knowing about us. But now that seems to have all changed and it’s really refreshing that we seem to be gaining a repuation amongst the Suffolk business community
Amongst other diners this time we had a local estate agent, a golf club owner, boutique clothing retailer and designers, the owner of a stunning wedding venue, other holiday cottage and B&B owners, coffee shop owners, my web designer, my accountant, and the owner of my insurance company by sheer co-incidence!
What our guests said about the Pop Up Restaurant
“What a fabulous evening! We came with friends, enjoyed great food in a cosy, friendly atmosphere. Thank you so much Carl, Mark and the team….. we will be back! – John & Nicky
“Wonderful experience, great food, great company” – Rob & Julie
“Fabulous!!! Great food, great company, great venue! Can’t wait til next time” – Bryan
“I loved the food, I loved the ambience, what a great night. Can we come back again please?” Edward & Julie xx
“Great food and a fab night” – Tim
“A lovely evening! we always admire the house when we run past and now we’ve eaten in it!” Lucy & Richard
“Wow! What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday lunchtime. Delicious food served in a beautiful setting. Couldn’t have been mad eot feel more welcome” – Sally
“What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday! Fabulous! Beautiful and absolutely delicious! Thank you!!!” – Caroline
“Another fanstastic meal, beautful food, wonderful service and perfect company. A wonderful afternoon. We will be back. Thank you” – Ian
“Third time! Still amazing and full of surprising flavours and stunning presentation” – Marcel
“Absolutely delicious! Particularly the Thai Green Dover Sole Mousse, but also the sweet fennel salad. Our second visit and we were not disappointed! Five stars in all departments!!” – The local B&B Owners 🙂
“A year since our last visit and we hope we will be in the area more to take advantage of the next wonderful feast! So many wonderful flavours, beautifully presented. We really enjoyed the afternoon and will definitely be back” – John & Marion
“Our first time at the Pop Up and ….. WOW! You won me round to fennel and tiramisu! The flavours were just delicious; subtle combinations that worked to enhance each plate and the menu overall. I’m a huge fan of the Dover Sole Mousse too! Thank you so much and looking forward to meeting you again in November! Best wishes and many thanks! – Fiona & Rob x
And now, here’s Mark’s fabulous recipe for the Thai Dover Sole Mousse
Combining strong flavours with fish can be a great success or a disaster… ! The key is to taste as you go along and allow just enough Thai flavour to come through without damaging the lovely Fresh Dover Sole
I cooked this mousse at our Pop Up Restaurant in February 2015 and it went down incredibly well… so thanks all that came and here, as promised is the recipe!
If you come unstuck …. Drop me an email. I’ll only charge you time and a half 😉
2 medium Dover Sole Fillets
100 ml Double Cream
2 egg whites
25 g baby spinach
(To taste below)
1. Skin and trim Sole Fillets and chill.
2. Chill Cream and egg whites.
3. Blanch spinach, puree in blender and pass. Keep the dry Spinach and discard the watery liquid.
4. Boil Ginger, Lemon Grass, Chilli, Garlic, Coriander, Lime Juice and Zest and simmer for 30 mins until you have a strong reduction. Then pass and chill. This can then be kept in fridge to use for flavouring other dishes etc.
5. Place Sole in Food processor with a pinch of salt and blend. Pass through a course sieve.
6. Place back in to the blender, add egg whites, then cream, then spinach puree, then a little at a time. The Thai flavouring.
7. When all incorporated, test a teaspoon of mousse in simmering water to ensure it holds firm together when cooked and the Thai flavour is correct.
8. Remove from blender and pipe into sausage shapes and wrap in cling film. Ensure to tie the ends.
9. Chill overnight if possible.
10. Place in simmering water and cook for approx. 8-10 minutes. Once firm, remove from water and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
11. Remove from cling film sleeve and slice and serve.
At Woodfarm Barns, I served with marinated Lobster callops and a Coriander broth made from Fish stock, ginger, Lemon Grass, Micro Coriander.
The mousse can also be served cold as part of a buffet in the Summer.
Thanks Chef! Hope you enjoy having a go! Please let us know how you get on when you have a go by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story and pics!
So there you go! So, what’s next? Well, get yourselves booked in for November 15 and we have already set the date for the next one so get in early to secure your seats! It’ll be on 26th, 27th & 28th February 2016. If you book now we will hold the price of £65 per head for you!
To book, call me directly on 07810 371218 or simply email email@example.com and we’ll see you soon!
For full details of Chef’s services just vist Marks website Just Imagine Foods