Welcome to week three of our celebration of the greatest, goodest and gorgeousest of the Smith boutique-hotel collection. (In case you’ve missed our first fortnight, we’ve already covered a fabulous Portuguese farmhouse in Alentejo and a superb self-catering cottage in Norfolk). This week, we’ve been wondering, ‘if we fled the Smith offices in London, and ran away to the countryside for a few days, where could we get to a) quickly and b) with a guarantee of glorious surroundings, fantastic British food, and a chic-yet-informal atmosphere?’ There’s only one answer – let’s hear it for…
As promised in the last post on our trip to The Crown Inn in Amersham, the Smith Travel Blog is quivering with lip-licking delight to bring you Rosie Sykes’s exquisite duck recipe, exclusively from her manifesto for The Kitchen Revolution. We tried it over the weekend, and, though it didn’t quite produce the gustatory fireworks it did on Rosie’s watch, it still earned this Mr Smith a chapter in the good books on Valentine’s Day…
Roast duck, Seville oranges, celeriac mash
It’s worth pricking the skin of a duck prior to cooking to extract excess fat, thereby encouraging a crisp skin. For a 1.75kg bird the total cooking time, including 20 minutes at 220ºC/425ºF/gas mark 7, will be one hour and 10 minutes. for different sized birds, cook for 45 minutes a kilo.
Roast duck with Seville oranges
1 medium–large duck, approx 1.75kg
3 medium onions, approx 660g
6 Seville oranges or other small juicy oranges
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Last week, Mr & Mrs Smith’s production queen Jasmine (who sorts out the printing of our books and all the lovely pictures on our site and arranges hotel reviews and, ooh, about six million other things) and I headed into the darkest depths of the Metropolitan line to Amersham, Buckinghamshire. It’s a sleepy satellite market town on the fringes of the Chilterns; one of those places that you half-recognise at every turn because of the fact that it’s routinely called in to play the role of ‘sleepy satellite market town’ in film. A role, I should add, that it performs with aplomb.
I’ll confess now that mooching around the Home Counties commuter belt is not my preferred means of disporting myself on a Thursday night, but when there’s an Ilse Crawford-designed boutique hotel to check out and the promise of a roast duck dinner, I’d happily fly Ryanair to Tasmania.