Test Plates at The Twenty Six

A full tasting menu can sometimes feel a little much. The new Test Plates series at The Twenty Six offers a taste of the whole menu, showcasing the creativity of the kitchen. Mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday) the Test plates are offered with a 50ml taster of a paired wine. Choose from dishes such as Squab Pigeon – Asparagus – Black Treacle (£10) paired with Mas Janeil ‘Les Petit’ Pas Rouge; Halibut – Sea Vegetables – Crab (£14) paired with Riesling Reserve Trimbach and for dessert Chamomile – Berries – Balsamic (£5) paired with Sauternes Clos Dady. Book online at www.thetwenty-six.co.uk or call 01892 544607.

In the mood for summer eating at The Beacon

June is the gentle face of summer, a mellow moment of the first warm nights eating outside and the lush, bright greens of the garden, vegetable patch and hedgerows. It’s also a boom time for seasonal British produce such as the first peas, salads, berries and currants. Strawberries are the beloved poster berry for the British summer but look out for blackcurrants and gooseberries coming into season in the next few weeks. Both have a short summer season and need sugar and heat to reveal their edible charms.

Elderflower, with its delicate citrus and vanilla notes, captures the mood and taste of early summer and is the perfect flavour partner for many berries including gooseberries, strawberries and stone fruits like peaches and apricots. The lanes and grounds around The Beacon are bursting with the intensely fragrant froth of the tiny cream-coloured flowers, which our new pastry chef, Linda Duffy, has used to create a gorgeous summer dessert. Peaches are roasted with elderflower cordial and plated with lemon curd and Italian meringue. At home, collect armfuls of elderflower on a warm, dry and sunny day, snipping just the flower head and leaving the stalk behind to make your own elderflower cordial.

Makes 1 ½ litres
20 – 30 large heads of elderflower, buds just opened
1kg of sugar
1.2 litres of water
3 unwaxed lemons
75g citric acid

Gently shake the elderflowers to remove dust or insects, picking through carefully, before placing in a large, clean metal bowl.
Bring the water and sugar to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Peel long, wide strips of lemon with a vegetable peeler or small knife and add them to the bowl with the elderflowers. Slice the lemon and add to the bowl.
Pour the boiling sugar water (be careful!) over the elderflowers and lemons, then stir in the citric acid. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel or linen and leave at room temperature for 24 hours to steep.

When ready, strain the liquid through a clean muslin and pour into sterilised glass bottles with air tight lids. Leave to settle for a few hours, chill and enjoy.