Nestled among the limestone hills of Wharfedale, Grassington House Hotel overlooks the cobbled square of Grassington and is home to hoteliers who subscribe fully to the concept of sustainable tourism - and don't mind getting their hands dirty in the process!
Where many restaurants pay lip service to locally grown produce, John Rudden has flung himself headlong into the fully fledged 'field to fork' experience. His pride and joy are his own beloved Oxford Sandy & Black pigs, hand reared on a small-holding at the top of the village and served in the restaurant as rare breed pork with plenty of crackling. A rare traditional breed of pig with distinctive markings, Oxford Sandy & Black pigs were virtually extinct 20 years ago. This hardy breed is noted for its excellent temperament (for which John and his wife Sue are extremely grateful) and producing meat of very high quality and flavour. The succulent pork, fine bacon and excellent ham are much appreciated by his diners at the hotel's award winning restaurant, No5.
John explains "We find it very rewarding, knowing that we are serving our own home grown produce with no additives, preservatives or food miles; except for those we spend running up the moor lane after them when they occasionally escape!"
Foraging for food
Working with celebrity forager Chris Bax, the Ruddens work to raise awareness of the natural produce living and growing around us here in the dales. Chris features on BBC's Taste the Wild, Countryfile, Blue Peter and ITV, but joins the Grassington House team in summer to hold a masterclass on location, exploring the ancient deciduous woodland of Grassington Woods and teaching how to identify and prepare edible plants, seeds, nuts, flowers and fungi. Chris picks and John cooks for an entertaining, educational and delicious experience.
John and Sue also plays host to shooting parties who come to enjoy the sport of grouse shooting whilst helping the local gamekeepers to manage the land. Guests can even enjoy the rare privilege of having their own birds dressed and served to them in the restaurant. As far as possible all the produce at Grassington House is made from scratch by John or the team; from the bread and cakes through to the jam, ice cream and chocolates. "We like to know exactly what goes in to the food we serve so that we can guarantee consistent high quality and the sheer pleasure of home-made Yorkshire Dales produce", he says.
At Christmas, John makes cakes and puddings packed with dried fruit steeped in lashings of barley wine and brandy, and tangy cranberry sauce for the turkey. As well as serving them in the restaurant these are available to buy from reception as hampers to enjoy at home or give as presents. For a genuine taste of the Dales you can't go wrong!