Yorkshire Life Luncheon - Rudding Park, Follifoot, Harrogate, North Yorkshire


Guests join us for lunch at the UK's top hotel. Report by Jo Haywood. Photographs<br/>by John Cocks


Poached sea trout, Whitby crab beignet, fennel hollandaise and a fennel crisp

Cannon of Rigton Farm lamb in a pistachio crumb with pomme anna, purple carrots, butternut puree, watercress foam and a redcurrant jus

Tomlinson & Son rhubarb parfait, candied rhubarb rice pudding and Farrah’s ginger crumb ice cream

Coffee and tea with hand-made petit fours

Wine notes

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Weighbridge Unoaked Peter Lehman Chardonnay, Australia 2011: fermented in stainless steel for a fresh taste and zingy hit of acidity, this lively white from Australia’s Barossa Valley is full of mouth-watering citrus and stone fruit aromas.

1753 Syrah Chateau De Campuget, France 2010: made from 100 per cent Syrah, this deep purple, fragrant wine pays homage to age-old wine-making traditions. It is created in stainless steel, without a hint of oak, and offers blackcurrant spice, bittersweet cocoa notes, crushed plum and figs and a highly polished finish.

Nivole Moscato D’Asti, Italy 2011: this pale straw-yellow, effervescent frizzante is intense, aromatic and fruity with delicious hints of peach, grapefruit and meringue. It’s clean, light and delicate with a refreshing acidity.

All the wines were kindly provided by Hallgarten (hallgartendruitt.co.uk)

They don’t like to brag at Rudding Park, despite having more than most to boast about. Staff at this Grade I listed Regency gem are far too well-mannered to mention their recent Trip Advisor accolade as the UK’s number one hotel.

But we’re not quite so demure. At Yorkshire Life we like to celebrate what’s great in the county and we’re not above shouting loudly and proudly about a North Yorkshire hotel that’s not only the cream of the crop here in this country but also second in Europe and fourth in the world.

These are just the latest in a long line of awards the privately-owned Rudding Park Hotel & Spa has picked up in recent years. And it doesn’t take a genius to work out why it keeps hitting the top spot. This luxury 90-bedroom country retreat, set in 300 acres of parkland, prides itself on providing impeccable levels of service, comfort and elegance.

It also offers fine dining all day, every day in its contemporary Clocktower restaurant, where local, seasonal ingredients are always on the menu.But for our lunch, managing director Peter Banks called on the services of his conference and banqueting team to pull off something special. And they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Leading the charge was Paul Mackie, Rudding Park’s conference and banqueting head chef and a man who loves talking rhubarb – but then he is from Wakefield, where the streets are virtually paved with the stuff.

‘I love experimenting with local produce, whether it’s cheese, meat or fruit,’ he said. ‘But my favourite ingredient is rhubarb – I am a Wakefield lad!’ He’s a regular demonstrator on the Yorkshire food circuit, cropping up at the Wakefield Rhubarb Festival (naturally), the Great Yorkshire Show and, in his best bib and tucker, at one of the Queen’s prestigious garden parties.

Paul began cooking as a teenager, trained at Wakefield Technical College and joined Rudding in 2007, clocking up a year in the Clocktower before moving over to join the conference and banqueting team.

‘I’ve been heavily involved in around 25 marquee events,’ he said. ‘They take around two weeks to plan and prepare and approximately 20 minutes to serve. We’re talking military precision.’

When he’s not mustering the troops at Rudding, where quality food is always top of the menu, he can’t resist a bit of ‘surf ’n’ turf’.

‘When I’m eating out or cooking for myself, I like to combine seafood and meat, usually something like pan fried scallops with black pudding,’ he said. ‘I also enjoy traditional home cooked dishes like Sunday roasts and casseroles.’

His love of seafood and meat was reflected in the excellent lunch Paul and his talented team prepared for our guests – although this time they were in separate dishes. A starter of perfectly poached sea trout (not easy when you’re catering for a crowd) and dainty choux pastry crab beignet set the bar high and let diners know they were in for a real treat.

The main of rich, soft lamb with a spring green crust of pistachio set off a Mexican wave of ‘oohs’, followed quickly by a round of highly satisfied ‘aahs’ as guests moved on to the buttery, deliciously dense pommes Anna.

And last, but certainly not least, came a clever trio of rhubarb (well, Paul was never going to plump for gooseberry, was he?) with a cute mini preserve jar of warm rice pudding, a generous globe of ginger-crumbed ice cream and a delightful parfait with just the right amount of wibble.

‘What an absolutely superb lunch,’ said Yorkshire Life food and drink consultant Annie Stirk, as she congratulated Paul and his kitchen brigade on a job exceedingly well done.

‘But that’s Rudding for you. Everything it does is superb. You set the standard and everyone else follows.’

And it’s not just in Yorkshire that Rudding reigns. Its latest tranche of awards shows it’s now setting the standard across the UK, Europe and the world.

For further details about Rudding Park, pop along to Follifoot, Harrogate, HG3 1JH, call 01423 871350 or visit ruddingpark.co.uk.