Tag Archives: Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse

Food Cult: Avocado Couscous at the Three Chimneys Freehouse, Biddenden, Kent

Whilst staying at the sublime Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse, we dined three nights at a local pub just a mile down the road (or a good hike across the fields) from the bed and breakfast. I’ve talked about our Sissinghurst experience here and here and here, but I couldn’t resist showcasing this beautiful piece of food art again.

The bottom layer is a vegetable melange with eggplant, zucchini, and onions in a tomato sauce. Next is the couscous mixed with avocado. Then there’s a slice of potato that’s not overdone, so it can hold up the next layer. It’s topped with goat cheese and it looks like it was torched because the cheese would likely melt in the broiler.

The Three Chimneys Freehouse is a very special place, hidden away in the heart of Kent, and is frequented by locals and the guests at the Sissinghurst Castle B&B. Although we ate there three nights, enough to be recognized and seated at “our table” by the hosts, we barely scratched the surface of the delectable menu. We highly recommend The Three Chimneys if you are near Sissinghurst Castle.

You’ll need reservations — a fine restaurant in the country fills up — so call ahead if you find yourself in the neighborhood of The Three Chimneys at suppertime. It’s worth the trip.

Another hint — I keep Pinterest boards for all the areas I want to visit on vacation. You might want to start one for Kent in southeast England!

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Writing Workshop: My Drink(s) of Choice

Mama Kat asked me today, “How did your love affair with Coffee begin?” That’s a really good question, but ironically, a funny thing happened on the way to being sixty. I forget when I drank my first coffee, but I still remember that I pretty much can’t live without it now.

My husband is partly to blame for my addiction to coffee. We’ve become connoisseurs of the different Starbucks blends — venti, dark, and black is my order. He prefers decaf and I live for the kick of caffeine. We shop carefully for whole beans, always on the lookout for a sale. When we travel, he scouts out the Starbucks locations on his smart phone or maps them out on his computer before we leave. We plan our driving breaks around the visits to Starbucks, knowing they will have good coffee, won’t sneer because we bring in our own reusable mugs, and we can depend on clean bathrooms.

At the Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse bed and breakfast in England where we stayed during the summer of 2011, we were always served coffee in a sprightly little press pot, so I decided to buy one for Christmas. I searched and searched for a coffee press large enough to satisfy our coffee habit. I wanted to make two fresh mugs for each of us, with one being decaf and the other caf. I hoped the freshly pressed coffee would satisfy our coffee hunger and that we wouldn’t just continue to drink the dregs of the big coffeemaker pot out of habit. That hasn’t worked out so well, as we are still using our big Gevalia coffeemaker and are each still sacrificing for the other — to caf or not to caf is an important question in our thirty-year marriage.

The second part of Mama Kat’s prompt is easier to remember. She continued the question by providing an alternative — “Or Diet Coke or Tea or whatever your beverage of choice might be.” My true beverage of choice is the nectar of the gods, a good wine. I blame it all on moving to California in 1974 and discovering wineries, and my love for wine has progressed from the Boone’s Farm Apple Wine, Mateus, and Lancers of our college days to the fine wines from around the world to which we have access (and can better afford) today.

One of our most recent trips to a winery was in southeast England, where some amazing wine is made. Our host at Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse is also the CEO of Chapel Downs Winery, and I blogged about our visit here.

The bookends of my day are a strong jolt of joe in the morning and slow sips of liquid terroir in the evening. What’s not to love?

I’m linked up to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop today. Please stop by and spread some comment love around to my friends.

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31 Days in Europe: Chapel Down Winery

“Grape Britain.” Gold medals for British rosés at the International Wine Challenge. An English white wine costing about $12 served at a Royal Wedding reception. Can any of this be true?

Image via telegraph.co.uk

Image via English Wines Group

Frazer Thompson, our host at Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse, is also the award-winning English Wines Group managing director at Chapel Down Winery in Kent. I was eager to try their wine so we made a visit to the winery. As I soon found out, Chapel Down is the largest premium wine producer in England, and I was not expecting the sophistication and quality that we found at Chapel Down just outside of tiny Tenterden.

Image via English Wines Group

The winery itself is unpretentious but beautiful. Its multi-use property sports a wine tasting room that is more like a gourmet store, a lovely English garden where you can have your wedding, and of course, row upon row of grapevines on the 25 acre property. Although I’m not an expert on winery equipment, its stainless steel tanks looked pretty modern and impressive.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image via beer-pages.com

I tasted several of their current wines and brought some back to the bed and breakfast to share with friends — or not. The award-winning sparkling Vintage Rosé Brut lived up to its hype and was well-priced at £24.99. Husband rummaged through all of the bins to find his favorite, Chapel Down’s own Curious Brew, Admiral Porter. He loved it.

Meanwhile, back at the farmhouse, we talked to one of the couples who were staying in the B&B for an anniversary getaway. They had made reservations at the restaurant at the winery for their celebration and were quite excited about experiencing this little gem. The restaurant is named after its Michelin-starred chef, Richard Phillips. We decided that we would take our friends from Cirencester to the restaurant and hoped for the best.

Apparently having Frazer’s name attached to our reservation worked magic, because were seated at the best table in the room and were served with skill and sensitivity. We ordered the chef’s tasting menu and the wines chosen to go with each course. It was pricey, but worth every pound.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Our meal was extraordinary and presented creatively. All in all, it was a magical evening. One could even say it was a meal fit for a prince and princess.

Image via blogs.babble.com

This post  linked up with hundreds of other 31 Day-ers. Join the fun and visit other bloggers as they share a piece of themselves. I’m still number 568, by the way.

31 Days in Europe: Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse

Sometimes things just happen, and then sometimes things happen for a reason. In July 2011, we had planned to spend a week in a self-catering cottage in southeast England. It was a wonderful find, but it fell through. Thankfully, we found Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse, and it was the perfect place for our holiday.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

I’m not usually the type of person who writes Trip Advisor reviews; in fact, we generally read these reviews with a wary eye. Often the reviewer has had a bad experience and wants to complain, or the effusive nature of the review makes one wonder if it was written by a relative or even the hotelier himself. In my case, the review I wrote was 100% accurate and I hope it brings more customers to Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse. This B&B is that good.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

The Victorian farmhouse on the Elizabethan-era property has served as home to the tenant farmer and as a bed and breakfast. It was renovated by the National Trust two years ago and has modern plumbing, electricity, and a lift. It retains its Victorian charm through the combined efforts of the Trust and its charming hosts, Sue and Frazer Thompson.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Entering through the beautiful wooden double doors, guests are likely to encounter the resident black labrador, Inca. She is polite and sedate, and seems to love everyone who visits. The visitor is enchanted with Inca, but the next view of the entry hall is even more fabulous. It’s everything (and more) the web site and the reviewers said it would be.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

The public rooms are tastefully decorated and comfortable. We spent time reading and connecting on the internet while in the parlor, and Sue serves tea in the late afternoon while guests are arriving. It’s a nice place to meet the people from around the world and make new friends. We also enjoyed a full English breakfast every morning in the dining room.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Breakfast is served in antique Spode china and Sue puts fresh flowers everywhere. The gardens around the farmhouse are charming and show Sue’s decorating style. Even the shed by the car park area is pretty.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Each bedroom suite is different and each is carved out of available space in the old farmhouse. Sue and Frazer live on the third floor of the home in their own suite. Sue recommended that we book the largest room, the Sissinghurst Bedroom, for our extended eleven day stay. It was beautiful, with quality linens and toiletries, and a very comfortable bed.

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

Image credit: Got My Reservations

I have rarely had a vacation where everything seemed to come together in a perfect whole. Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse provided a warm home for us as we toured all over southeastern England and I highly recommend it — if you can get a booking! Plan ahead. Its location between several small cities is convenient for day trips, or you can just stay on the property and immerse yourself in one of the world’s finest gardens. More on Sissinghurst Castle Gardens and its inhabitants on another day. Keep reading!

This post  linked up with hundreds of other 31 Day-ers. Join the fun and visit other bloggers as they share a piece of themselves. I’m still number 568, by the way.