Plant | Pick | Plate

August 16, 2017By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog No Comments

Plant | Pick | Plate

What a great time of the year it is to be a gardener, the harvest is in full flow and the garden is full of colour. Our special micro climate that we enjoy in this part of Scotland helps us to grow some extremely surprising crops, who would have thought we could grow peaches, apricots and figs outdoors! Our trees produce fine crops every year and much of the fruit is harvested for our Café where our talented team of Chefs create delicious meals for our customers.

The cooler summer this year has meant that many of the flowers have been a little later than usual but as a result of this they will have plenty of energy and life to keep them going through the autumn months, we have many different varieties so please come and enjoy them.

The herb beds, which were planted last year have matured beautifully and are a riot of colour and scent which our visitors are enjoying as well as the local bee population, I have never seen so many bumble and honey bees in one area. The Chefs have been making good use of the abundance of flowers and foliage so you can also enjoy the flavours of the herbs too.

 

 

The Gin Garden Recipe

July 21, 2017By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog No Comments

Food for thought

The sun is finally shining again. And it’s now that I get to reap the rewards for all the work John and the Gardening Team have been doing for the last few ‘hungry months’. It’s showing its promise too, we look to be in for a great year of produce. Embracing our Plant Pick Plate ethos, we have Cavolo Nero, and Chard (a favourite of mine), paired with the stunningly sweet baby carrots on our Sunday roasts.  In addition, we have our first potatoes of the season, generously covered in the fresh rosemary that surrounds the outside seating and the rhubarb has found its way into a creme brulee! We’ve even more early summer treats with baby beets, courgette And cucumber too.

Continuing our ethos of fresh food from our doorsteps, we teamed up with our local butcher Jamiesons to make the “Fochabers Sausage”. Stuffing it full of our garden sage, red onion and rosemary chutney, it’s combined with local pork belly, Moray haggis and our very own apple and pear cider. It’s delicious!

It’s not just the vegetables being picked in the garden though. We’ve had a stunning crop of redcurrants, and we’ve created a special Garden themed sweet to make the most of them.

The Gin Garden Recipe

Lavender and Honey Mousse, Gin Soaked Garden Berries, Chocolate Soil and Edible Flowers. This one seems a touch difficult. But it’s much easier than it looks, and you can have some real fun making (and tasting) it.

For The Berries…
200ml water
100g Sugar
50ml GC Gin
400g Mixed Garden Berries

Bring the water and sugar to the boil (add the Gin in now if you don’t want it to be so tipsy), and set aside to cool. When it’s at room temperature, glug it all over your berries. I’ve used blueberry, raspberry and garden redcurrants for mine, but any and all will come to life in the Gin syrup.

For The Mousse…
A dozen Fresh Lavender heads
100g Honey
500ml Double Cream
3 Egg Yolks
2 Gelatin Leaves
200ml Milk

Put the lavender heads, gelatin and milk into a pan. Heat gently with a lid on, when it come to a near boil, remove the pan from the heat and wrap the top with cling film, this will keep the flavour and aroma in. This process can be used to infuse milk with nearly any flavour, if you wish to be even more experimental. Leave the pan to rest and Infuse like this for at least half an hour.

Once rested, strain the pan in to another and put it back on to a gentle heat.

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl, beat your egg and honey until it turns a brilliant thick fluffy white. Slowly beat in your hot infused milk, once incorporated put the mix into a thick bottomed pan (this will stop your airy custard from getting a heat shock and splitting). Put it on a low gentle heat, and stir with a wooden spoon, once its thickened enough to coat the back of your spoon, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Whisk your double cream until it’s just past a soft peak, and is just able to hold its shape. Gently fold about a quarter of your cream into the custard, when its consistency lightens you begin to fold the custard in to the cream (this process allows you to keep more air in the mousse as the less folds you make to the cream, the more air you’ll keep in).

For The Soil…
200g sugar
100ml Water
200g Dark Chocolate
50g Dark Cocoa Powder

Put the sugar and water in a thick bottomed pan and bring to the boil, then, reduce the heat, once the water evaporates your caramel can burn quickly, use a sugar temperature probe and once the sugar hits 120c stir in your cocoa and chocolate. The sudden drop in temperature causes the sugar to crystallise with the chocolate and viola. Every pastry chefs favourite plate sprinkle.

Putting it together…
I’ve used little ceramic flower pots but any bowl, mug, jug or glass will work. Spoon the boozy berries in and your mousse on top, and generously cover it in the chocolate soil.

And for The Flowers and plants…
Nasturtium
Viola
Borridge
Mint
Calendula
Lavender
Sweet pea tendrils

This is where I have a real advantage as alot of edible flowers can be hard to come by. But I have used Borridge, Calendula , Nasturtium and Viola’s to garnish mine. All can be grown fairly simply at home, im told, and im sure all of our gardeners could give you some great advice on doing so. The Calendula flower has a beautifully subtle sweetness, and the nasturtium a floral pepperiness that really suprises you. The Violas a slight tartness and the Borridge a cool flavour, lots of people liken to cucumber. I used mint, lavender and pea tendrils for the “plants”.

So that’s summer so far, but with the Garden just coming in to its own now, there’s lots more to come.

Birthdays, lavender and theatre fun

July 20, 2017By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog No Comments

Birthdays, lavender and theatre fun

We’ve had a wonderful July so far! We kick started with our 3rd Birthday Party on 1st July and were joined by over 500 lovely visitors and supporters as we opened the garden and children’s play for the weekend. It was fantastic to see so many new faces and lots of you took the opportunity to explore the wonders of our ongoing project and chat to the gardeners about what we have planned for the future. For the foodies, we had a hog roast, BBQ, live music, gin and cider – what a feast! Thank you to Emma Gibb for sharing her gorgeous photos.

Plus in the evening we celebrated with a cocktail and food pairing evening (can you tell we like food?!) Join us same time next year for our fourth.

This is one of our favourite times of year in the garden as there is lots of beautiful produce to be harvested for use in the Restaurant – it only seems two minutes since we were sowing all the seeds!

Please do visit us and see our stunning 3,000 lavender plants in the centre of the garden which are in full bloom at the moment, the plants were planted two years ago and have filled the space really well. It’s rare to see so many in one place and the bees love them too.

Our ever increasing number of espalier apple and pear trees are growing well and have produced lots of growth so far this season, we now have over 300 which does not include the 250 mature specimens on the walls. We have still got at least another 300 to plant over the next few years. Training them is a time consuming but enjoyable process.

Angus’ Dry Martini Recipe

July 13, 2017By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog No Comments

Dry Martini Recipe

COCKTAIL (NOUN)
1. AN ALCOHOLIC DRINK CONSISTING OF A SPIRIT OR SPIRITS MIXED WITH OTHER INGREDIENTS, SUCH AS FRUIT JUICE OR CREAM. “A COCKTAIL BAR”

Dry Martini Recipe by Angus Gordon Lennox - View From Top

Angus Gordon Lennox (owner of Gordon Castle Estate) is a big gin fan. So much so he created his own Gordon Castle Gin. His favourite gin cocktail is a very dry martini with scorched rosemary. Try our simple recipe below and share your delicious creations using #GCGin

Angus’ Dry Martini Recipe

50ml Gordon Castle Gin
15ml Dry Vermouth
Twist of Lemon
Scorched rosemary (preferably from the garden!)

Pour gin and dry vermouth in cocktail shaker with ice. Stir well, then strain into chilled martini glass. Zest the lemon peel and garnish by twisting it in a perfect spiral. Serve with scorched rosemary.

Ingredients for Dry Martini Recipe

Dry Martini Recipe by Angus Gordon Lennox - All completed

Do you have a favourite cocktail recipe? Share on our social channels using #GCGin and find your recipe in our hall of fame!

A guide to our glorious garden

June 26, 2017By Jennifer Kelly: AdminBlog
Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Summer Drone

A guide to our glorious garden

History / Background

Situated on the site of the former village of Bog-of-Gight, the 8-acre walled garden at Gordon Castle was constructed between 1802 – 1803 with the original site being much near to the castle. This was a fully productive garden for many decades but gradually declined in the early 20th c. as did most walled gardens of the age. The site was used as a market garden and later to grow raspberries to supply Baxter’s. The garden was then derelict for a number of years, being an empty field.

In 2012 the garden was completely re-designed by the Chelsea Flower Show award winning designer, Arnie Maynard. The brief of this contempory plan was to make everything in the garden productive as well as aesthetically pleasing, whilst simultaneously adding elements such as a Maze, a Play Area and Performance area. When complete in 2018 this will be one of the largest productive walled gardens in the UK.

The produce is grown for a variety of reasons, including use in the Café, to sell via our on-site shop as well as to supply our huge range of products which are sold on-line and in the shop.

Fruit Trees

The espalier trained fruit trees which you will see clothing the garden walls were mainly planted in the 1950’s/60’s, however some specimens, including the Gordon Castle plum are much older. Two fine specimens of this variety can be found in the far North-West corner of the garden, they produce a large golden sweet fruit. The walled trees, which include peaches, apricots, figs, apples, pears, plums and gages number nearly 260. To add to our collection, we are in the course of planting 750 apple ‘step over’ trees around the garden perimeter, these will include all of the Scottish apple varieties, numbering nearly fifty.

Vegetable / Flower Garden

The main productive centre of the garden was completed in 2015 and includes four large corner vegetable beds which we operate on a rotation system to avoid pest and disease build up, also four colour themed flower beds. In addition, there are salad beds, asparagus, artichokes as well as the 3,000 Lavender plants at the heart of the garden. There are two varieties, L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Alba’ which produce a fine summer display and allow us to harvest a certain amount for oil extraction which we use in many of our products.

The ‘Pear Arches’ along the path surrounding this area were constructed in winter 2015/16 and include eight tunnels and a total of eighty-eight trees. There is a different variety of pear for each tunnel and it will take over ten years for the trees to mature and cover the arches.

Herb Gardens

Recently planted are the Herb Gardens with 4,000 perennial plants, including staggered rows of Rosemary ‘Mrs. Jessop’ which will eventually be trimmed to form stunning ‘cloud hedging’. Many varieties of annual herbs will be planted in spring 2017 and the area will mature during the summer. Apart from the Rosemary, the herbs have been planted very informally in small groups and will produce an interesting and beautiful display.

Quince meadow

Recently planted are the eleven different varieties of Quince which will gradually mature over the years to form a gentle canopy. The process of under planting has now begun and will continue into 2017, there will be four varieties of Viola and four varieties of Alpine Strawberry. Eventually the plants will completely cover the ground.

Soft Fruit Garden

Work begun on the Soft Fruit Garden during Summer 2016 including initial ground preparation work and brick edging which will form the paths. The beds will be cultivated this autumn and winter, ready for planting with a whole array of fruits in early spring, the area will then have visitor access.

Themed Gardens

The final stages of the renovation are the ‘themed gardens’ located on the western side of the garden, we aim to start work on the first of these gardens this winter/spring. The gardens will have different themes such as a Nectar Garden, a Perfume Garden and Medicinal gardens. The curved mounds which you can see were specially landscaped after the garden was re-designed.

Maze

The maze started life in 2015 with a meadow theme, this has been used as an experiment to gage the reaction of our visitors. If we keep the maze as meadow permanently then the long grass strips will be planted with wild flowers and bulbs. It will be simple to start with a fresh theme in the future if something different was required.

Glasshouse

This is an original Victorian, Mackenzie & Moncur glasshouse which has been lovingly restored over the course of the last few years. This is the remaining glasshouse of an extensive range which would have stood where the Café now stands, in addition there were numerous cold frames. The glasshouse is now in full use and houses many varieties of tomato, cucumber and chilli plants, amongst others. These are harvested through the season for use in the Café and selling in the shop.