Yorkshire Life Lunch - Carlton Towers, Carlton, North Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 17:46 02 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:35 20 February 2013
Guests join us for lunch at the glorious home of Lord and Lady Gerald Fitzalan Howard. Jo Haywood reports. Photographs by Andy Bulmer
A trio of monkfish Provenal, smoked haddock fishcake with lemon dill cream and crab futomaki with wasabi mayonnaise
Carlton grazed fillet of beef with a horseradish scone and prosciutto crisp served with fondant potato and a brunoise of root vegetables
Apple tatin with poached pear, caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream
Manuel de La Osa Blanco 2011from Bodega Parra Jimenez, La Mancha, Spain (30 per cent Verdejo, 60 Sauvignon and ten Chardonnay).
This is a well-balanced wine with lots of fruit, providing a full flavour in the mouth with subtle, lasting afternotes. Its packed with white peaches, nectarines and apples with a hint of citrus acidity.
Les Chemins 2009 from Chateau La Baronne, Corbieres, France (40 per cent Carignan, 40 Grenache and 20 Mourvedre).
A lovely, vibrant wine, this one comes with smooth aromas of cherries, blackberries and pepper and is rich, aromatic and long lasting.
Moelleux from Clos Lapeyre, Jurancon, South West France (a blend of Petit and Gros Manseng).
If youre looking for something fruity, delicate and complex, this is the wine for you. Its packed full of exotic and citrus flavours which combine to create a delicious yet light dessert wine.
Supplied by Noting But The Grape (nothingbutthegrape.com), specialists
in fine organic wine.
When he describes his family home as a magnificent monstrosity, Lord Gerald Fitzalan Howard clearly means it as a term of endearment.
I cant begin to imagine what my great-great uncle was thinking when he transformed what was a relatively small manor house into this magnificent monstrosity, he told our guests, in a speech peppered with humour and warmth. To be honest, its probably a good thing he ran out of money or it would have been even bigger.
This unique country house has everything youd expect from an archetypal historic building magnificent architecture, a strong family heritage (its the ancestral home of the Duke of Norfolk) and a beautiful, tranquil estate setting that feels far from the madding crowds, but is actually just minutes from all the major local road networks.
Its home today to Lord and Lady Gerald Fitzalan Howard or Gerald and Emma as they like to be called and their three children, Arthur, Flossy and Grace, the latest generation to enjoy the splendour of a property that dates back to the 17th century and beyond.
But theyre not greedy; theyre happy to share their unforgettable gothic home and 250 acres of parkland with wedding parties, house parties, corporate events and shoots.
We have our own front door so people can have the run of the place without tripping over us, said Gerald. Yes, its our home, but its also a magnificent building that we feel should be shared, used and enjoyed.
The present house was begun in 1614, extended in the 18th century and again in the early part of the 19th century. Its transformation from merely Carlton Hall into a house worthy of the Towers title took place from 1871 to 1877 and is the legacy of one man, Henry 9th Lord Beaumont.
It was his dream to create the greatest of all Victorian country houses, which he achieved with architects AW Pugin, whose father was responsible for the Houses of Parliament, and Sir John Francis Bentley who designed Westminster Cathedral.
The carved woodwork, metal-work and painted decorations are masterpieces of Victorian craftsmanship and the large amount of stained glass contains a wealth of heraldic features.
All of which wowed our guests when they gathered for a pre-Christmas lunch at Carlton Towers but not as much as the lunch itself.
This delicious display of good culinary judgment and exemplary cooking skills from head chef Andrew Bates and his talented team started with a piscine trio that looked delicate on the plate but packed a mighty flavour punch.
Then came a succulent puck of home-grazed beef that gave beautifully under the slightest knife pressure, topped with a piquant horseradish scone and a sensational prosciutto crisp that shattered into myriad salty shards.
And finally, we were treated to a beautiful plate of perfectly executed apple tatin, skilfully matched with a Liliputian poached pear, a wickedly good caramel sauce and a cinnamon ice cream with just enough spice to cut through sweetness.
The magnificent monster that is Carlton Towers was the perfect setting for such a magnificent meal.
It has now been 22 years since Gerald and Emma moved in with their one-month-old firstborn. No one had lived there for the previous 20 years and it was cold, dark and about as welcoming as a damp cave. But theyve worked wonders since, installing modern conveniences, redesigning an entire wing of existing bedrooms as guest accommodation and opening up new ones in the Baroness and Clock towers.
With hard work, passion and humour, theyve managed to make this massive house a family home once more. It might still be a bit of a monster in size, but its now a happy, cosy, welcoming place to be. n
For further information about Carlton Towers in Carlton, Yorkshire, DN14 9LZ, call 01405 861 662 or visit carltontowers.co.uk