At last the renovations of The Guildford Arms are drawing to a close, and I’m happy to say the results are well worth the upheaval. Pub director Jon Hallett, who also runs Footprint Design Studio, has created a wonderful first floor restaurant, a top floor private room, and installed 3 kitchens to enable us to service each area successfully. He has also undertaken essential works such as renewing the dilapidated old roof, modernising the cellar, installing brand new toilets and strengthening the floors on each level.
There are still a few more small things on our list but for now our attention can turn to the garden. This week we are meeting to discuss what to plant. Top of the list are herbs for the garden, such as bay, rosemary, golden marjoram, apple mint, lemon verbena and a good selection of thymes. I would also like to plant more chives; we use them in a lot of dishes and their vibrant mauve flowers add a splash of colour to the herb garden throughout the spring. If you grow your own chives at home make the most of these pretty flowers, scattered over a salad or soup they add an intense oniony hit.
Smoked Ham Hock & French Bean Salad with Soft Boiled Duck Egg & Chives – serves 4
- Rinse and place the smoked ham hock in a large pot with some diced onion, leek, 10 black peppercorns and a large sprig of thyme. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Skim the surface and simmer for 2½ hours. Leave to cool in the liquid.
- Whisk 50ml of balsamic vinegar with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard and 150ml of olive oil. Season.
- Pick the ham off the bone and break into large flakes.
- Cook 2 duck eggs for 7 minutes in rapidly boiling water. Remove and place in cold water for 30 seconds before peeling.
- Take 4 large handfuls of mixed leaves and mix with some cooked French beans, sliced new potatoes and a generous amount of ham.
- Dress the salad and divide between 4 plates. Cut the eggs in half and place on top of the salad.
- Season the egg with salt flakes, freshly ground pepper and a generous sprinkling of freshly cut chives & chive flowers.