Stolen from the big smoke’s Hix Soho and ransomed to the hills, ‘Chef’ Simon Hicks brings skilful and honest fare to the warmth of our countryside tables.
Boasting a kind of lawlessness akin to the moors, expect patchwork feasts vibrant with colour, beautiful seasonal ingredients plucked from countryside spoils, celebratory centre pieces begging to be passed around, delicious home-grown crops bestowed on us from the bottom of the garden and of course, the most heavenly of meats for you to share.
Originally from the land of abundant fresh food and, married to a Geordie, he has adopted Northumberland as his home and it’s where he now demonstrates his culinary magic.
Whilst the climate might be a tad different from Australia, he says the quality of fresh produce is just as strong. “I love taking a traditional recipe and giving it my own injection of innovation to gets the taste buds tap dancing. For me, the cycle of nature is inspirational and no more so than in spring. This is emphasised even more here where the contrast between the seasons appears to be greater.” After we’ve spent the last few months hunkered down by the big fireside with our spit roasts (we actually do them all year round at the Crewe) we’re itching to get out into the countryside, see the lambs and calves enjoying the pastures and harvest some of the iconic vegetables and herbs – Jersey Royals, English asparagus, wild garlic…. ”
The Lord Crewe Arms, Blanchland…
Swept up in the wilds of the North Pennine moors, holding court over the honey stone village of Blanchland and crafted by plucky Twelfth Century monks who headed for the Northumbrian hilltops in search of celestial desolation, ours is just the spot for the perfect country hideaway.
Disappear into the twists, turns and discoveries of our once-upon-a-time Abbots guest house. Wallow in the warmth of our twenty one bedrooms, soothed lovingly with Pennine hues. Relish in the spoils of The Bishops Dining Room and the notorious Hilyard, where food that harks of heritage and skill laden the tables. Top up in our medieval vaulted pub The Crypt, or simply while away a quiet hour or two in the soft dappled glow of our ancient fireplaces. And with moors that shout out adventure right on the doorstep head out, plot north, walk, cycle, explore, before home to take off your boots, hang your hat and stay awhile.
The Lord Crewe Arms, with some beautiful and tastefully decorated rooms, available to book all year round, should definitely be on your ‘must visit’ list…
And with Simon heading up the restaurant, you definitely need to book a table to experience the culinary delights he cooks up!
Simon’s spring into summer menus reflect all that’s good about this time of year. “As soon as the days are longer and the weather warm enough we’ll be cooking outside and showing off the gardens.”
His most recent venture is The Gatehouse. A reinvention of an ancient building opposite The Lord Crewe Arms with state of the art equipment and comfort providing a space for meeting, lounging and entertaining. And for Simon to host a Chef’s Table together with some very well-known chefs: Martin Sweeney of The Tramshed in Shoreditch, Group Head Chef of HIX Restaurant, Ronnie Murray, and Kenny Coltman who’s cooking up a storm in Peebles, north of the border, have all agreed to join him.
News of these events and more will be posted on the Crewe’s website and for first dibs sign up at www.lordcrewearmsblanchland.co.uk