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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Smokehouse is a success at hotel

As one of the Lake District’s most traditional hotels, the Wild Boar Inn, near Windermere, has been a hit with visitors to the area for over two centuries. KARL STEEL finds out more about its brand-new addition

THE Wild Boar Inn has been welcoming weary travellers to the Lakes for more than 200 years, and with its characteristic oak beams, low ceilings, and log fires, you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing much has changed there during that time.

However, following a three-month refurbish-ment, one addition has brought the Crook hotel’s kitchen into the 21st Century.

A state-of-the-art smokehouse is the first of its type in a Lake District hotel, and head chef Marc Sanders hopes that it can help make the Wild Boar the region’s first choice for smoked food.

“The Wild Boar has been around for a long time and we were thinking of ideas to bring the kitchen up to date,” he says.

“People’s eating habits have changed quite a lot, and people want something different these days.

“We did quite a bit of research into what some of the top London hotels were doing and what sort of food they were offering.

“We had something in mind for a new steakhouse and it all came together with a smokery.

“I don’t know of another hotel in the Lakes that has a smokehouse, which is a bit of a surprise, and I think it might give us a bit of an edge.”

As well as the smokehouse, the other new feature of the kitchen is that it is open plan, which allows guests to see how the food is prepared.

The hotel, set in the heart of the Gilpin Valley, is a traditional coach house with 33 individually-designed bedrooms.

With Windermere Golf Club just over the road, and free use of the Low Wood Leisure Club, the Wild Boar is the ideal place to unwind.

Its greatest advantage, however, is the 72-acres of woodland that sits alongside and offers guests a tranquil place to relax.

It also provides the wood for the new smokehouse, adding its own flavour to the range of smoked meats and fish they have to offer.

Marc says: “We thought about how we could use the woodland to our advantage. This way we can make all our smoked foods in-house.

“We already had quite a lot of smoked items on the menu.

“We now do our own smoked salmon, which we marinate in damson gin.

“There are some fantastic local suppliers that we still rely on, and we are learning a lot from them. We still buy in smoked cheeses, but we smoke the majority of our meat and fish here.

“It’s allowed us to create a distinctive new menu, and obviously there’s some focus on our smoked food.

“One of the most popular is our wild boar and apple sausage, where the meat comes from a local producer and the wood comes from our own trees.”

Despite Marc’s experience as a chef in Switzerland, Portugal, Germany and France, and a spell in London before moving to the Wild Boar 16 years ago, he had never previously encountered a proper smokehouse.

“I’d never used one before,” says Marc.

“It was a bit of trial and error to start with, but we had a chap from Ireland who helped to install it and he had over 40 years experience, so he helped us to learn the basics.

“It is essentially a copper boiler that we feed with wood, and when the fire goes out it smoulders. The smoke filters up through a chimney into our smoke room.

“We have always bought in smoked food, so this saves us having to pay a premium rate when we can make it ourselves.”

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