At Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre we like to offer more than just conferences. And, with delicious food and a brilliant setting, our pop-up kitchens have been hugely successful in 2017.
On Saturday 16 December, we held the last in the pop-up kitchen series for this year and it didn’t disappoint. ‘A Festive Banquet’, took place in the restaurant of Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre. With its spectacular views across the lawn to the Abbey Church and food prepared by our award-winning Head Chef, John Hughes, it was an evening to delight.
The four-course menu was a festive showstopper, with the best of Buckfast Abbey’s produce, including meat from the Abbey’s farm and vegetables from the gardens. The sumptuous menu was inspired by Benedictine Christmas traditions and each course was accompanied with interesting and entertaining culinary anecdotes provided by Alison Gagg, Education Manager.
Nowadays, it is common for everyone to wear a paper crown for Christmas dinner but that wasn’t always the case. Instead, during medieval times a ‘Bean King’ would be selected to wear the crown upon finding a bean in their food. This old tradition was brought back to life on Saturday, with the added addition of a bottle of champagne for the chosen king.
A nod to the monastic medieval tradition whereby workers were given 12 days of feasting to celebrate Christmas, the menu for the evening started with a sharing platter of cured, pickled and steeped fruit and vegetables from the monastery’s gardens with spiced breads and homemade cheese. It was followed by warm potted trout with horseradish cream, a popular monastic Christmas dish, before the main course extravaganza, a three-bird roast. The three-bird roast consisted of free-range local chicken and guinea fowl, filled with a duck, orange and pistachio mousseline served with creamed potato and a cranberry and tonic wine jus. It had been designed in the shape of a swan to represent the traditional monastic centrepiece, common during the middle ages, before all the swans were owned by the crown. At the time, food always had to clearly represent what was being eaten and this included leaving the head. Interestingly, the song ’12 days Christmas’ is linked to the tradition of a bird-within-bird roast.
To finish, John and his team created a selection box of mini chocolate delights, followed by Christmas petit fours.
The next pop-up kitchen will be a Foraged Food event held on Friday 13 April 2018.
If you’d like to know more, please call us on 01364 645530 or visit www.buckfast.org.uk