I know it’s been a long time but it’s good to be busy.
Firstly I have found the time to do some volunteering. Springfield Mind is a charity whose mission is to promote wellbeing and prevent mental health problems in Warwickshire and Worcestershire. I visit a drop-in in Evesham, set up as a place to socialise and carry out various activities. It really is so good and, of course, they are always looking for support.
As I’ve mentioned before, cooking is good for the mind and I have some involvement in cooking for The Bakehouse on the Green in Broadway. It’s such a cosy little spot with a lovely atmosphere, great coffee (and food, of course!)
A star attraction of The Bakehouse is The Cotswold Salt Beef Company. You must try the salt beef and Reuben sandwiches, produced in the traditional New York style on rye bread. Also on the menu are authentic Sicilian Cannoli from Cafe Cannoli. The menu is limited to some delicious, locally produced dishes with a ‘world cuisine’ influence. You should also sample the mezze board with ‘Bazza’s Falafel’ (well – credit to Ottolenghi!).
Santa’s stocking filler
Talking of Ottolenghi, Daddy Christmas will be visiting soon and there are a couple of recipe books I highly recommend you put on your Christmas stocking list. Simple is Ottolenghi’s latest publication and, not surprisingly, it’s already a best seller. There are some seductively enticing dishes to try out. Go for curried red lentil, tomato and coconut soup; spiced ‘shepherds pie’ with a butterbean mash and Muhammara (spicy red pepper dip). Also on the list is The Borough Market Cookbook by Ed Smith, featuring round-the-year recipes based on produce from one of the worlds best markets, Borough Market. Of course, the produce is available locally but I really recommend that you pay a visit to the market when visiting London. It’s simply brilliant, with some great restaurants too.
Well this place has certainly received some great reviews from the likes of Giles Coren and Tom Parker-Bowles – and justifiably so. The food is just to die for. Don’t expect a mass of dishes you have never heard of before. The uniqueness of this place is, without doubt, the quality of the cooking. The pub itself is cosy, comfortable and full of character. It also has a collection of well priced bedrooms and is recognised as a pretty classy place to stay in the area. I’ve read that the owners, Peter Creed and Tom Noest, have taken inspiration from Fergus Henderson at St John’s – another of my favourite places to eat in London.
I would never eat here without starting off with a flatbread of bone marrow, garlic and parsley. It’s just one of those simple ‘last taste before I die’ plates. On my last visit I chose chose a perfectly cooked calf’s liver with mash, pancetta and onion gravy. There is a good selection of pizzas and it is very child and dog friendly. I just can’t wait to go back.
In the meantime there is a newcomer to the beautiful village of Chedworth (Roman Villa). The chef, Tom Conway, has history at The Potting Shed, The Old Rectory and The Daffodil. On a very brief visit I sampled local fried pheasant with black garlic ketchup. It’s a mind blowing, flavoursome dish and I cannot wait to go back and have a full on meal.
Chedworth fried pheasant with black garlic ketchup
So, another new find. If you are ever in the area of Stonehouse/Stroud pay a visit to this place with it’s Italian inspired menu and featuring a wood fired pizza oven. Whenever I can I try a pizza and the pizza here was very good indeed. I started lunch with ‘Funghi al Forno’, a scrummy mushroom stuffed with pesto and taleggio followed by Calabrese Pizza with mozzarella, salami and one of my faves, n’duja. The pub also have some lovely rooms to stay in.
I’m sure loads of you have already beaten me to this place in Cheltenham. It’s part of an ever expanding group with Oxford and Bristol both recent openings. The food style is Sri Lankan street food in a very casual relaxed and comfortable setting. One thing which immediately struck me was the friendly and efficient staff. The food is exceptionally delicious. Go for a selection of sharing plates and you must try a Hopper!
I’ll be right back.
Have a wonderful festive season!