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Wild about wine…

This moth’s blog is by Richard Bracken who works for local wine merchant Grapevine. It’s a role he’s new to, having worked at Askham Hall and the George and Dragon Clifton over the past 5 years. Richard’s passion for wine developed whilst at Askham Hall where he was fortunate to be plucked by Nico Chieze to be his assistant, which entailed drawing from his vast knowledge. Nico encouraged him to take exams with the Court of Master Sommeliers and Wine and Spirits Education Trust, being tutored along the way by a number of Masters of Wine, as well as helping him reach the Regional Finals in the UK Sommelier of the Year competition. He also undertook a number of trips to work voluntarily in some of the top restaurants in London and had the chance to help in the 2016 vintage at some fantastic Chateaux in Bordeaux. His thirst for knowledge has certainly not been quenched and he has every ambition to reach the highest echelons of qualifications within wine.

“First things first it’s an absolute pleasure to be writing this blog post for the guys at 1863. It’s a restaurant and team that is so enjoyable to work with as a wine merchant and, as I’m about to explain, we’ve had some real fun with their new and improved wine list!”

“Wine is a subject for everybody but is often overlooked as pretentious and scary, with guests having no idea which direction to take on a wine list. Yes there’s a tasting note, but if you haven’t actually tried that wine before is it worth taking the gamble on trying something different? Far too often we fall into that trap of sticking with our New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or our Argentinian Malbec. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these wines but in my opinion part of going out to enjoy a fantastic dinner is to experience new flavours and ideas – with food AND wine.”

“In a recent previous life, I was a Sommelier. My job was to look after a 600 bottle wine list and to help guide guests through it. Nothing gave me more pleasure than being able to recommend wines that were interesting and unique and take guests out of their comfort zone. I’m hoping to bring this experience to help restaurants like 1863 have a diverse selection of world class wines on their list for you to discover and enjoy. Below are a few bottles of killer juice that have made their way to Pooley Bridge!”

 

“The Susanna Balbo ‘White Blend’ from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina, is a real stunner and made by one of the leading female winemakers in the world. It’s a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon which is the primary blend of grapes in white Bordeaux’s. What gives this wine an interesting twist however, is the addition of Torrontes into the blend. This is Argentina’s national grape that you’ve probably never heard of and is a rich, floral and spicy characteristic which works well with the freshness and acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc. There’s also a struck match character from a little bit of oak ageing which gives another layer of complexity. It’s a real stunner and I know it’s a wine that’s stolen the hearts of everyone that’s tried it!”

 

 

“We’ve also added a fantastic Vinho Verde to the list, much to Nuno’s delight! Vinho Verde is a region in the very North of Portugal and produces wines that are light, fresh and zesty. This example, from Quinta de Raza, is a blend of Arinto and Azal which bring flavours of lemon zest and grapefruit. It’s great enjoyed on its own as an aperitif or with light and fresh fish dishes. If you have the chance to try it, notice the slight spritz. That’s due to the wine being bottled when it’s fresh and young which traps the CO2, creating a real sensation in the mouth.
At the opposite end of Portugal, we’ve brought in a wonderfully rich and succulent red called Euphoria from the Algarve – a fitting name! it’s a blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Sousao that spend 9 months in used French oak. This brings a touch of toasty spice to a wine packed to the brim with plummy, berry fruit. It’s absolutely crying out for a great piece of Cumbrian Venison or a rich beef dish.”

 

“You might spot Sir Richard Branson tucking into Phil’s food when he hears his wine is on the list. Believe it or not he owns a vineyard in the Franschoek Valley, South Africa, called Mont Rochelle and uses the talents of a brilliant and pioneering English wine making team to produce wines of top, top quality. The Little Rock cuvee is blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with dollops of Mourvèdre and Petit Verdot – Bordeaux meets South of France if you will. It’s bursting with cranberries and raspberries with a lovely supple texture, as well as South Africa’s trademark smokiness. If it’s good enough for Sir Richard, it’s good enough for me.

There’s plenty more than the above on offer, but I suppose you’ll just have to head for a meal and find out for yourselves! Have a chat to Mark, Anne and Nuno who will pass on their passion for these fantastic wines and help guide you towards something new and interesting. After all, great food deserves great wine.”

Happy drinking!

Peter Rabbit: Mischief & Mayhem Exhibition

Until Sunday 3 June

Bunnies will be bouncing all over our Gallery, as Cumbria’s most famous literary character Peter Rabbit jumps right off the page in this interactive exhibition about Beatrix Potter’s first creation.

This exhibition tells the story of the creation of Peter Rabbit and includes original artworks and manuscripts which are rarely exhibited. It also reveals a fresh insight into the innovative way Beatrix Potter developed Peter Rabbit toys and games.

Children can play like Peter in an interactive learning area. Activities include a giant board game, playing shop, and performing scenes from the Tales. Will your little bunnies help Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle hang out the washing, or aid Mr. McGregor planting carrots in his garden?

Find out more…

The Dalemain Marmalade Festival

Saturday 17 March

The World’s Original Marmalade Festival will be returning on Saturday 17th March, so put the date in your diaries and get ready to go orange! Join us for a weekend of marmalade celebrations with demonstrations, talks, exhibitions and shows that will inspire you, your family and friends to take the nation’s marmalade to your heart.
Find out more…

10 years on…the things we remember!

February 1 2018 marked 10 years to the day we bought and moved into what was then – Elm House. We’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic this month – so we thought we’d share some of the highlights of our first decade with you…

2008: New Beginnings

When we bought Elm House in 2008 it was a 5-bedroom B&B.  We renovated and restructured to make it into 8 bedrooms and over the course of the next 6 years we renovated and redecorated all of the rooms, timescale and budget allowing.


2009: Mark rises to local prominence

Did you know that Mark spent 5 years as Chair of the valley’s local tourism group – The Ullswater Association? As if he doesn’t have enough on his plate, that meant coordinating a group of 70 businesses around the valley in an effort to raise Ullswater’s profile to visitors both old and new.

2011: Keeping it in the family

Anne’s brother, Colin Hindle, took over the day to day running of Pooley Bridge’s beloved ‘Granny Dowbekin’s Tearooms‘. Now the Hindle family’s businesses ‘bookended’ the village.

2012: A TV Debut

We made our TV debut on none other than Cumbria TV in 2012 – the evidence is still lurking on the internet for all to see so you go, enjoy a giggle at our expense!

2014: Finally – a space to call our own

An important moment in our personal lives as we designed, built and christened our Summer house. After six years of living on the top floor of Elm House with no space for entertaining, our Summer House was a welcome (and social) addition to our living space.

 

 

2015: Tour of Britain comes to Pooley Bridge

Bikes – a lot of them – it was brilliant!

2015: Tragedy – The End of an Era

On Sunday 6 December, following the devastation of Storm Desmond, Pooley Bridge breathed her last and collapsed, dramatically into the angry and swollen waters of the River Eamont.

2016: Metamorphosis

The transformation of Elm House was not over. Even after doing the rooms there were still the communal areas that needed updating and so with this in mind at the end of 2014-start of 2015 we made the decision that we needed to reinvent ourselves. We had identified a gap in the market for a relaxed fine dining restaurant in the village and felt we could offer this, so in November 2015 we closed our doors as Elm House and after 6 1/2 months of blood, sweat, tears and a lot of dust and rubble we re-opened on 20 May 2016 as 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms.

2017: A Taste of Success

Joseph aced his GCSEs and 1863 Bistro earned its first AA rosette while the rooms achieved a spectral 4 star Gold Awards –  a very rewarding year for us personally and professionally.

So we just wanted to say a huge thank you to all customers and guests, old and new, and here’s to the next 10 years – whatever that may bring.

Mark & Anne Vause

1863 MARKS FIRST 18 MONTHS WITH AA ACCOLADES

A recent addition to the Ullswater Valley food scene is marking 18 months in business with two AA accolades. After opening its doors to guests in May 2016, 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms in Pooley Bridge is celebrating one and half years of business with not one, but two AA awards: four gold stars for accommodation and their first rosette for food.

 

From a Bistro perspective, this puts the ‘restaurant with rooms’ into the top 10% of restaurants in the country. The AA Rosette scheme has long been established and successfully recognises cooking at different levels nationwide. The success or failure in achieving Rosettes is based on a single (sometimes multiple) visit to a hotel or restaurant. Essentially it’s a snapshot, whereby the entire meal is assessed.

 

For over 150 years, 1863 has quite literally been a cornerstone of the village. The property is set in the heart of Pooley Bridge, a short walk from the shores of Ullswater. It was built first as the village blacksmith’s and later became the post office. Now reimagined for the 21st century, 1863 features a bar, bistro and seven elegant bedrooms. A family business, they say they enjoy getting the little things just right, welcoming guests back time and again to share in a slice of Lakeland paradise.

 

In 18 months since opening, the young team headed up by owners Anne and Mark Vause have welcomed ’over 15,000 locals and visitors from as far away as Hong Kong and New Zealand have enjoyed dinner in the Bistro while over 6000 have used 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms as a base for a short break to discover the beautiful Ullswater and Eden Valleys and of course the wider Lake District.

 

In the kitchen, Head Chef, Phil Corrie leads a small, young but talented and ambitious team comprising four chefs with a combined mean age of 20.5 years! Between them they’ve worked with 23 local, regional and national suppliers to create 115 different dishes plus 46 flavours of ice cream and sorbet.  That equates to over seven menus in 1863’s first 18 months, or put another way, one new dish served every three days! To add to that, Chef de Partie, Niall Frith was named ‘UK’s best Young Seafood Chef’ of the year recently in the coveted UK Seafood competition.

 

Head Chef Phil commented:

“I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved in our first 18 months of business. Recognition in the form of AA awards is wonderful and I’m so pleased that we’re really starting to make a mark professionally. But you know, nothing beats seeing new guests and regulars discovering something a little bit different when they eat with us. It’s such a pleasure to work with the 1863 team and just bring a bit of culinary enjoyment  into people’s hectic lives.”

 

When asked what the next 18 months holds, Phil’s not resting on his laurels. The young chef and graduate of Kendal College is focussed on building and expanding 1863 Bistro’s reputation both with customers and critics while pushing and developing his young team on the technical front.

 

Previously known as Elm House Bed and Breakfast, 1863’s owners, Mark and Anne Vause, moved to the area from Blackburn in 2008 and spent eight years running the award-winning B&B. In November 2015, the entrepreneurial couple had already made the ambitious decision to close to undertake a £300,000 refurbishment project and relaunch in early Summer 2016 as 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms. Despite the dreadful storms of Winter 2015/16 and ensuing challenges, the establishment opened on time and on budget in late May.

 

Mark commented:

“I still have to pinch myself daily when I think what we’ve managed over our first year and a half in business. We’ve evolved from a humble B&B to a ‘Restaurant with rooms’, expanded our team five-fold and achieved the AA gold standard for our rooms plus our first rosette for food. We count ourselves extremely lucky to work with such a dedicated team both front of house and in the kitchen and of course to have such loyal guests who dine and stay with us.

I wait with baited breath to see what the next 18 months bring….”

 

With a Christmas menu featuring festive-inspired flavours and turkey (but not as you might expect it!), the bistro opens at 6pm daily. Booking is strongly advised for bookings in December. To book, call 017684 86334. Gift vouchers to any denomination are available by calling direct on 017684 86334.  For further information and the Christmas menu, visit www.1863ullswater.co.uk.

The Secret Garden at Theatre by the Lake

Until 13 January

“When a garden’s kept proper, all weeded and neat, that chases the wild away. But when it’s left alone, for nature, who knows what secret things’d grow there…”

It’s 1910, and spoilt, lonely Mary Lennox lives a life of luxury in India with her aristocratic parents. But when an unexpected twist of fate suddenly leaves her orphaned, she is sent to live with an unknown uncle in Misselthwaite Manor on the wild Yorkshire Moors.

Misselthwaite is a mysterious place full of dark corners and strange night-time noises, and Mary is sure there are secrets to unearth. With the help of some unexpected friends, Mary sets about discovering the legend of its secret garden, in one of literature’s most enduring and magical adventures.

Jessica Swale recently won the 2016 Olivier Award for Best Comedy for her play Nell Gwynn. Her other plays include Blue Stockings and acclaimed adaptations of Stig of the Dump and Sense and Sensibility. Accompanied by a delightful score and a menagerie of puppets, her richly imagined adaptation of Hodgson Burnett’s much loved classic is a Christmas must-see for all ages.

Suitable for ages 6+

Under the Stars At Lowther Castle

Saturday 9 & Saturday 16 December
Come and celebrate the festive season Under the Stars, a night of exclusive entertainment at Lowther Castle. Open for two nights across two weekends, experience a night like no other with beautiful illuminations, upbeat live music, DJs, great food and a range of beautiful art installations to explore across the Castle grounds. This is the ideal celebration for families as well as young professionals.

Guest cheffing, Evesham celeriac and Brussel sprouts

November is here (and nearly over!). The trees and the hedgerows are now bare and the first snow has already dusted the tops of the fells – but while the landscape has taken on a distinctly wintery feel, the fire is on and the larder is full. From a chef’s perspective, I always get excited about Evesham celeriac and Brussel sprouts which are now becoming widely available and both feature on our festive menu – although as my grandma taught me, I stay clear until they’ve had a good bite of frost.

As some of you may know, I trained at Kendal College graduating in 2012. Earlier this month, I was invited back to do a Guest Chef evening in the college’s restaurant. I remember working with chefs in the past doing these evenings – Simon Rogan of L’enclume and Stephen Doughety of First Floor Cafe @ Lakeland were personal highlights for me, so it was an honour to be asked to lead one of these evenings as a returning student.

I put together a 6-course tasting menu compiled of 1863 dishes past and present and worked with the students to give them an insight into the style of food we offer here. The night was a great success and received really good feedback from the restaurants guests. The students were a pleasure to work with and Kendal College are still at the top of their game, training some of the most talented chefs in the area – great for the industry and great for the future of the Cumbrian food scene.

Kendal pass
And now on to Christmas. Anne and her team of helpers will be busy this coming weekend putting up the decorations (keep an eye on their progress on social media!) but my focus remains on the kitchen. Our Yuletide menu has a good sense of seasonality (just as you would expect) without being a typical Christmas menu. I’ve taken flavours of the festive season and incorporated them throughout the menu to give a little sense of something yet subtly familiar. Celeriac and Brussel sprouts are on there – as is turkey, just not quite as you’d expect it. I know Mark’s looking forward to the Clementine tart while I’m quietly excited about the addition of Douglas Fir as a flavour – have a look here.

Noel

 

Whilst currently thinking of Christmas, I’m working on a New Year’s Eve menu to celebrate how far we have come over the last year. It’s going to be a real showcase and offer a glimpse into the development for next year at 1863. Although the evening is already sold out, we’ll publish the menu for you to take a look at on 1 December. It’s such an exciting time and I’m already looking forward to our first tasting event of 2018!

WIN A TABLE FOR 4 – 1863 CHRISTMAS FACEBOOK COMPETITION!

To mark the start of the festive season (well it is the 1 November after all!), we’re giving you and three friends the chance to win a table for 4 and be one of the first to experience our Christmas menu. Simply like, share and tag a friend on our Christmas competition post on Facebook.

As with all these things, there are a few terms and conditions we need to tell you about:

  • Prize valid Monday – Thursday from 4 – 21 December and is subject to availability.
  • You must be resident in the UK and over 18 years of age to participate.
  • Prize is a three-course meal from the Christmas menu for 4 people and does not include drinks.
  • Any drinks must be paid for as taken on the night.
  • The winner will be announced on our Facebook page on Fri 24 November.
  • No cash alternatives.

Perfecting the work-life balancing act…

Two years after receiving planning permission to make the changes to Elm House and we are finally getting back to some family life and a bit of normality.  It’s been a long slog but very much worth the actual blood, sweat and tears that went into changing Elm House into 1863 Bar Bistro Rooms.  It’s fair to say that the first 2 years have been work, work and more work.

From a business perspective, the Bistro opened on time in May 2016, but on a personal level there was still a small matter of Mark building a house for us to live in. A stunning vaulted open plan 2-bedroom single storey abode tucked away on the back corner of the house and cleverly angled with a glass gable end allowing beautiful views over the fells.

3D visual

August 2016 and the start of the house build began, foundations were a fairly quick and painless process but whilst Mark and Jonathan (our only other full-time employee on the build) are both excellent joiners, the block work dragged on a little longer than expected but was all done by the end of September.  Early October saw the oak-framed gable end and the main roof supports being craned into place – we had what was starting to look like a house.  The roof was a real challenge; “a cathedral roof” with 3 pitched roofs projecting from one point at 45-degree angle from the main house but with 10 tonnes of reclaimed Westmorland slate and several huge pieces of double glazed panels later, we were water tight in time for Christmas.

Roof trusses

A couple more weeks of plastering, electrics and plumbing and then the real fun started with choosing a kitchen and bathroom, wallpapers and colour schemes.  We had friends coming to visit so we set ourselves a moving in target for 17th February so every spare minute (which there aren’t many of) was spent painting, tiling, grouting and papering but as always, we did it (by the skin of our teeth!).

AandM blog 2

You’d be forgiven for thinking that now we had our lovely little home we would be sitting back and relaxing a bit, but oh no, we still had the not so small matter of renovating the second floor, where we used to live, into two luxury suites.  This was one of the most challenging aspects of the whole process as work could only be carried out after breakfast and before guests returned to their rooms each day, leaving a very short window for any of the ‘noisy’ jobs to be done and water and electric to be turned off.  Taking a bit longer and (a lot!) more money than originally planned,  this breathtaking pair of suites opened to guests on 14 July this year.

 

Now those of you that know us may be wondering what our son Joseph was doing whilst all this was going on, well he was studying for his GCSEs and despite the upheaval and disruption of living in a building site throughout, he got excellent results in the summer and is going on to study Chemistry, Biology and English Literature at A level.  Someone asked him recently if he would eventually take over the running of 1863 and his response was “Don’t be ridiculous, have you seen how hard these people work?”.

1863-Family

And yes, we do all work hard but it’s so rewarding when you get guests and customers coming back time and again not just for the amazing food and beautiful surroundings but because they want to be part of the 1863 story.  Now that the building work has finished we are going to reward ourselves with a little holiday to Italy and will hopefully come back refreshed and full of new and interesting ideas to try.

 

On a final note none of the above would have been possible without the amazing team we have around us so a big thank you to them all and of course to all of our guests and customers for your continued support.

See you soon

Mark & Anne