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Take a walk on the wild side

Executive chef Richard Allen's take on the smells of Spring at Rockliffe Hall...

I can’t go anywhere at this time of year without being truly inspired by the ever-changing landscape around us. Watching the green shoots of this year’s bounty slowly making an appearance is magical.

It’s such a huge contrast from the icy realms of only days ago. It has to be one of nature’s biggest wonders, because for me there just isn’t anything any better than seeing things grow literally right at your very feet.

The wonderful Rockliffe Hall estate that I am lucky enough to be a part of, features heavily in the cuisine at the Orangery and quite rightly so ,as there’s such an abundance of produce to choose from and we’re barely touching the sides of, in my humble opinion, the best season, bar none.

Whether it’s part of our huge walled garden, our polytunnels or the wild offerings we pick, prepare and preserve, it all features heavily within our magnificent conservatory restaurant. I can’t wait to share with you all some of the hard work the development team here has been up to over the last few months.

You could be forgiven for overlooking some of the less-used foods, having such a great larder to choose from, but here at Rockliffe Hall we believe our success is in the failing. We are constantly tasting and testing and retesting recipes and believe this is the secret to bringing out the best in that product. Whether it be our nettle vinegar, ramson (wild garlic) Ketchup or homemade beetroot wine, all are put through their paces so that when it arrives at your table it’s the best it can be.

While on the subject our Ketchup, containing wild garlic, is a perfect pairing for fatty lamb cuts and, as we all know, the flavour is in the fat! Picking wild garlic is a great thing to do at this time of the year with the whole family, as it gets you next to nature and gives you a real chance to be completely submerged in field to fork cookery, first hand.

If getting your hands dirty isn’t your thing you could just cut out the old woodland outing and come along to the Orangery and taste our version of the ketchup on our tailored 10 course menu.

For all of you that do want to give the Ketchup idea a go I have included our tried and tested version right here. Like I say, lamb is the perfect pairing, but served with a piece of simply grilled fish, such as mackerel, or used as a dip for bread or a dressing for salad, I am sure you’ll love it.

And don’t forget you can make a bumper batch and freeze it, so it will never go to waste.
Whatever you choose to do, get out there in the ever-changing landscape, enjoy yourselves and get cooking. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Richard Allen's Homegrown Ramson Ketchup

  • 275g blanched wild garlic
  • 35ml Chardonnay vinegar
  • 100mil dashi stock (cold)
  • Sugar / salt to taste
  • Method: Blitz all ingredients together in a food processer until a smooth consistency is achieved. Freeze until needed.


To find out more about the 4AA Rosette Orangery restaurant at Rockliffe Hall please click here. To book a table call 01325 729999 or email