I was invited to stay at the Atlantic Hotel and attend the Eat Jersey Food Festival as part of a press trip and our food, drink, accommodation and flights were complimentary. I was not paid to attend and was not under contractual obligation to write this blog post or create content on any platform.
A couple of years ago I fell in love with a small island… an island of eternal sunshine, where everyone smiles, the beaches were beautiful, the air was clear and the food was incredible. But this island involved no expensive ten-hour long haul flight… no excruciating jet lag and there was no need to pack different currency or travel adapters.
You can be on the beautiful island of Jersey with only a half an hour flight and with The Atlantic Hotel being only minutes from the airport, you can soon be enjoying a glass of wine by the pool! Regular readers will remember that I stayed at The Atlantic Hotel, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a few years ago and I absolutely loved the incredible hospitality and unbeatable location of the charming family owned hotel.
This time I’d been invited back for the Eat Jersey Food Festival 2019, a celebration of great restaurants and food especially the fine produce from the island.
Now that eternal sunshine I mentioned? You’re probably thinking but it’s still so close to the UK… ok so there isn’t really eternal sunshine but some how the sun always seems to shine when I visit. And I left a grayish Gatwick Airport to arrive on this sunny island on a Friday.
Located on the ground floor, my room was a Garden Studio with a beautiful terrace backing on to the garden with a perfect view of the pool.
Furnishing is classic and traditional – bear in mind everything at Atlantic Hotel is a little retro, but that really is part of the charm.
The bathroom is sizeable with plenty of Molten Brown products available to keep me going. After dropping off my bags and updating Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as to my wheresabouts … I joined the others in the press trip group (one of whom was my good friend Gary Berry) on the pool terrace for a light lunch.
The menu has a seafood focus, reflecting the fresh local produce of the island, and I just had to try their smoked salmon again.
And I had quite a view to enjoy with my lunch as the terrace overlooks the pool and the sea views over St Ouens Bay – including this rather perfect tree. The Atlantic has six acres of private grounds and also lies adjacent to the La Moye championship golf course.
The interiors provide plenty of charm too, always kept up to date and with beautiful artwork, there’s a feel of the ocean here.
With a relaxed itinerary we enjoyed our lunch before getting ready to head out.
Our excursion for the afternoon was a visit to Manor Farm, owned by husband and wife team Christine and Didier Hellio who provide fresh vegetable to different outlets around the island. One of their main crops are the famous Jersey Royal potatoes which they are both passionate about – they’ve run Manor Farm together for thirty year and both come from farming back ground themselves.
Didier loves potatoes so much that he even has potatoes with his bolognese rather than spaghetti… and Christine is such a fan of farm life that rather than request jewellery or handbags for her anniversary. She wanted a shiny green tractor! After seeing how the Jersey Royals are grown and farmed with such care, I couldn’t wait to try them over the course of the next couple of days.
Back to the hotel and we had plenty of time to get ready for the Friday night five course banquet – each course would be prepared by a different chef. But before that we would be enjoying a champagne reception with Taittenger and canapés again each prepared by a different chef, and also to our surprise served by the chefs themselves.
On the trays for our delight were cheese and onion pie, Jersey lobster with avocado and exotic fruit, brawn beignet, burnt apple puree, smoked salmon cone and Hassel back Jersey Royal with creme fraiche and caviar. I have to say I was very taken with the latter, the Jersey Royal had such a perfect skin and slightly sweet taste.
We then moved into the dining room, usually the home to the hotel’s Ocean Restaurant, but tonight the coastal blues and whites of the room provided the backdrop to the gala dinner. Chef Will Holland is now running the kitchen at Ocean Restaurant and he brings a wealth of experience with him. Growing up in Bristol, Will had always wanted to be a chef, his first job was Homewood Park in Bath working under Chef Gary Jones but has worked through out the UK at Gravetye Manor in Sussex and then joining Alan Murchison’s L’Ortolan Restaurant in Berkshire in 2004. In 2007 he opened L’Ortolan’s sister restaurant La Bécasse in Ludlow, earning his first Michelin star in just 18 months.
Will introduced us to the already familiar names names of the chefs who would be preparing each course for the night.
A hearty hunk of bread with ale started us off, the work of Chris Underwood hailing from Adam Handling restaurant group who was to be responsible for the dessert too.
Next came pig cheek, Jersey scallop with locally collected sea herb by Paul Leonard from the Devonshire Arms. The cheek itself was in a deliciously rich and slightly sweet and sticky sauce with perfect caramelisation on the scallop. Each course was also prepared with a wine but as I’m no wine expert I’ll suggest you check Gary’s blog for opinions there!
Salt-baked celeriac with hazelnut, truffle and pecorino by Richard Davies at Calcot Manor sounded simple enough but actually turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening, it was so perfectly seasoned.
Our fish course was prepared by Lee Smith of Samphire restaurant, a fairly recent addition to the Jersey restaurant scene, the fine dining establishment has taken the place of Ormer, a Michelin-starred restaurant I tried last time I was on the Island. Lee explained that his signature style was mixing a more a luxurious ingredient with a more humble hence the creation of Jersey turbot with turnip pappardelle, deep fried Jersey oyster and Champagne sauce. It was beautifully cooked and an absolutely perfect combination.
I’ve heard such good things about Chef Adam Reid and his restaurant, The French in Manchester so I was excited to try his main course. Tater ’ash’ of retired Jersey dairy cow served with mushroom catsup and malted sourdough with beef butter was utterly divine. So beautifully cooked and prepared, again rather rich but so perfectly portioned it didn’t leave me overwhelmed.
I must admit we were a little unsure about Chris Underwood’s dessert. It was more a savoury, palate cleanser style dish combining artichoke ‘caramac’, peanut butter, orange and celery sorbet. For me the celery sorbet didn’t really work and unfortunately I’m not a fan of peanut butter anyway, what I did enjoy was the natural sweetness and texture of the artichoke caramac but honestly it wouldn’t be a dessert that I would choose.
A fun but worthy element to the night was the Silent Auction, each table had an iPad and could use it bid on certain items most of which were food and drink related and had some relevance to the event. Over £4000 was raised on the night which would go to International charity Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The trust is located at Jersey Zoo and has long been known as place to protect species from extinction.
We were fortunate enough to visit Jersey Zoo the next day, I didn’t make it to the zoo on my last visit but I had been when I was around 10 years old with my parents! The zoo was actually established in 1959 by naturalist and author Gerald Durrell who was committed to a focus on animal conservation, today it is run by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust who run 50 projects in 18 countries with a particular focus on islands where species are under pressure from extinction. The zoo itself has a beautiful natural feel to it and rather than focus on big animals for entertainment such as elephants, lions and giraffes, there are smaller mammals (gorillas, lemurs, bats and gibbons) as well as birds, reptiles and amphibians.
We were also given the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes and see how the animals food is prepared and chat to some of the staff at the zoo. The zoo is about a 30 minute drive from the Atlantic Hotel so I would suggest dedicating at least a whole morning to taking a look around, it’s the perfect activity in Jersey for families.
We arrived back at the Atlantic in time for the Saturday Social, the second part of the Eat Jersey Food Festival. A little different to the night before this was a pop-up in partnership with Social Eating House in London. Chef Patron Paul Hood joined Will Holland in the kitchen to collaborate on a menu with the choice of four, six or eight course menus, we went for a conservative four courses.
Over our lunch, I was fortunate enough to be reintroduced to the owner of the Atlantic, Patrick Burke who I’d met a few years ago over lunch at the Capital Hotel. He’s second generation at the Atlantic having succeeded his father, Henry as Managing Director in 1987. He also works with Small Luxury Hotels of the World and is a passionate ambassador for Jersey, co-founding the Luxury Jersey Hotels consortium.
The first course was raw Jersey scallop with lime ceviche, Jerusalem artichoke, wasabi sunflower seeds, smoked avocado, sea herbs and horseradish.
Next retired Jersey dairy cow beef tartare with ‘Bloody Mary’, pullet egg jam, nasturtium and rye bread. A fortunate try as apparently it’s unusual to actually eat Jersey beef and you’re more likely to see milk or cream of a Jersey cow on the menu.
The fish course was English Channel turbot with Dashi glaze, Jersey royals, spring vegetables, kombu and bonito stock and chives. Though it was rather salty, it was utterly delicious!
Dessert was 70% chocolate delice with cocoa nib Jersey yoghurt, tarragon ice cream, cocoa nib crisp and Jersey sea salt. I wasn’t sure about another savoury ice cream but this one work well and was the perfect pairing with the sea salt.
Sadly our time in Jersey at the Atlantic was coming to an end but there was just time to see one more sunset…
Before Gary and I headed to the airport… and home.
A huge thank you to Atlantic Hotel, Visit Jersey and all the chefs at Eat Jersey Food Festival 2019, I had the most fantastic time! The festival is set to return next year so watch this space for the next fantastic line up!
For more things to do and places to eat, check out the Visit Jersey website.
The Atlantic Hotel
Le Mont de la Pulente