One of the interesting things about visiting National Trust properties is that though there appears to be commonality and consistency across their cafes, the reality is that they are dependent on who is in the kitchen, more than most. As a result, one way to compare the different experiences is to look at something that is common across many of the menus and compare them. Once such common item found on lots of menus is the cheese scone.
On a recent visit to Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire I stopped for lunch and had a leek soup and a cheese scone.
Kedleston Hall is one of the finest and most complete examples of an 18th-century show-palace and parkland in Britain. Step inside and discover the Curzon family’s collection of fine art, furniture, and Asian objects.
The cafe is in, what was the kitchens of the Hall. I do like it when the cafe is in the main buildings, rather than a converted cow shed. I really liked how Chirk Castle’s cafe was in one of the towers for example.
The service was friendly, you placed your order and then your food is brought to the table.
The scone was lovely and fresh, soft, and delicious. It was full of flavour. I really liked it, so much that I nearly ordered a second scone.
I was once asked where I go to eat out in Weston-super-Mare and I recognised that most times I go out to eat are in other places. When eating locally, as a family, we usually end up in Bristol, as part of doing something else. It doesn’t help that quite a few places that we use to frequent have closed down.
So it was a nice to go out to eat at a local bistro in Weston-super-Mare. I and others visited the Ginger Pig Kitchen recently (as in January) for a “Christmas” dinner.
“At the Ginger Pig Kitchen we’re proud to be serving Modern British bistro food, made from fresh, with passion, using local suppliers and produce. We trust that with every visit you make you will get great service in a great environment.”
The environment is certainly interesting with pipework and wooden tables and what felt liked random chairs.
The menu looked inspiring and interesting, and it was quite difficult to make a choice, but as this was a booked meal I had to make my choice the week before! I also prefer not to do this, as what I felt like eating last week, may not be what I feel like eating now. However I did think I made the right choices.
For my starter I had the Cauliflower Bhaji, which was served with mango yoghurt chilli jam and crispy onion.
I got two bhaji, made from onion and cauliflower. They were crunchy and crisp outside and soft inside. I couldn’t really taste the cauliflower, but they were nice and spicy. I liked the crispy onion, but I do feel that it needed more yoghurt. Overall I did enjoy the bhaji and they were really tasty.
We then had a watermelon gazpacho in a spoon, which was quite nice and zingy.
Forgot to take photograph of the spoon before drinking the soup.
My main course was I think the house speciality, which was Woodbarn Farm pork belly. It was served with a GPK black pudding bon bon, mashed potato and a braised carrot. On the plate was also a scattering of green leaves, crispy onions and something else.
It was quite a small piece of pork belly, but was well cooked. The cracking was crisp and crunchy, but wasn’t going to be teeth breaking. The pork was tender and tasty.
The GPK bon bon was nice and meaty, I think it could have had a deeper flavour. I did like the use of crackling as the bon bon stick. The mashed potato was nice and creamy, but I would liked to have had a gravy with a deeper flavour, the same could be said for the braised carrot.
On the plate was also a scattering of green leaves, crispy onions and something else. I am not sure what this was and what it added to the dish. It did add texture, but I was a little underwhelmed by this addition to the dish. Overall I did enjoy this plate of food and it was delicious.
I had a choice of desserts, in the end I went with the cheese and biscuits. I had three pieces of cheese, crackers, chutney, fruit, and celery.
I did not eat the celery. Overall it was okay, nice cheese and nice accompaniments.
It certainly was a popular establishment and was full all evening. Took a photo of the restaurant (at the top of this post) as we were leaving and was now nearly empty, but that’s because it was late. The service was excellent, warm and friendly. I really enjoyed the food, it was delicious and it is certainly a place I would visit again.
Met up with some friends at The Stable Game Room for a coffee and a bite to eat (oh and to play a game).
The Stable Game Room has many board games you can play, as well as serving food, alcoholic drinks and coffee.
I had an espresso, which was a little harsh to be honest, so much so I had to add sugar and I generally never do that to coffee. However when I was in Italy in the 1990s I would see quite a few Italians do that, so still felt I was being honest with myself.
I wasn’t that hungry, so I had the Cheese Deli Board, expecting to share it with the table.
The board was quite plentiful with cheddar, red Leicester, stilton and brie. Alongside was apples, grapes, pickle, pickled onions and cornichons. With this came bread and crackers.
I had to ask for butter though. It was a big board and there was lots of cheese. I have to say though, the cheese was nothing to write home about, the sort of cheese you could find in any supermarket. The cheddar was quite bland in comparison to the mature cheddar I usually have. Nice to have some stilton with the dish.
For a little more money you can have a cheese and ham board. Not sure if this means the same amount of cheese and then ham, or less cheese and some ham!
Our table also had a couple of pizzas. They have a pizza oven and used fresh dough, so the pizza looked excellent and according to those that ate them, they were delicious.
I was staying at the Doubletree Hilton in Ealing and was eating in the hotel restaurant.
I’ve alway liked the idea of baked camembert, but have never had it, not in a restaurant, or bought to cook at home.
Seeing it on the menu, I did think why not. The baked camembert was done with honey, rosemary and garlic, served with sourdough bread.
I was a little surprised when it arrived, I don’t know why, but I thought I would have been served a mini camembert, but this was a normal sized one. It came with two warm freshly baked large sourdough bread sticks.
I do like camembert, but this was my first experience of a baked camembert. I really enjoyed it, I liked the addition of honey, garlic, and rosemary. The bread was excellent, and was perfect for dipping into the hot melted cheese.
I could have done with more bread, but then I think I would have been full as a result, and I had it as a starter. Though I ate all the bread, I couldn’t finish all the cheese. Probably better shared than eaten by one.
Made myself a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch the other day. I took two slices of sourdough bread, to which I added slices of Emmental and Mozzarella cheese.
I put my frying pan on a low to medium heat. I added some sunflower oil, I placed the sandwich in the frying pan, then put a lid on the pan.
The plan is that you melt the cheese before the sandwich finishes browning on both sides. When I first tried to do this, I had a lovely crust on the bread, but the cheese hadn’t melted. I found a lower cooking heat and a lid, would melt the cheese and you would have a lovely crust.
I was over in Dublin for an event, and having arrived late to my hotel, I decided I wanted a quick lunch, but didn’t really have the time to head into the city centre or even looking around. I could have eaten in the hotel, but I thought it was a little bit pricey.
After a quick browse around the area I decided to try out Rocket’s and have a burger and fries. The look and feel, the menu and the concept reminded me of Five Guys in the UK.
There was a lot of choice of different burgers, but in the end I went with a cheeseburger with fries, and a coke. After placing my order I took a seat and my burger was served to me at my table, which is always nice.
It was a good burger, tasty and nice toppings, you could also taste the cheese. The burger had a good meaty beefy flavour and I liked the sauce it was dressed with. I did feel that it was a bit thrown together, but that does seem to be the norm with this kind of burger though. I had a similar experience recently at 1885 Burgers in Harwell. As a result it can be quite challenging to eat, without making a mess. Can I be the only person who eats a burger with a knife and fork now and again?
The fries were okay as was the drink.
Would I go again? Well I think it’s unlikely I will be in Dublin in that location again for sometime, so I would have a burger there, but I don’t think that will happen in the foreseeable future.
The last time I went to Wahaca it was just before lockdown. In May 2022 I was up in London for an event with my son, and afterwards we decided to get something to eat. Our first choice was Bills in Victoria, but they were full. So, I suggested that we head to Oxford Circus and go to Wahaca. We caught a tube across London.
We arrived to find there was a bit of a wait for a table, well it was a Friday evening in London, not too surprising. We decided that we would wait. It wasn’t too long before a table was free, we sat down and looked over the menu.
We chose six dishes, the one we started with, was the Mexico City nachos which I discussed here and was the highlight of our meal.
We also had three plates of tacos.
We had the grilled chicken and avocado tacos with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa, served in two soft corn tortillas.
I have had these before, the chicken for me was slightly overcooked, but the flavours were excellent. I like the addition of the guacamole to the spicy chicken.
There was also the chargrilled steak & cheese tacos, chargrilled bavette steak with grilled cheese, chipotle and avocado salsas, in two soft corn tortillas.
Another dish I have had before, these were very tasty. Though I think I have had better ones before. The steak was nice and tender and the salsas added a contrast of flavours and textures. Never see the point of the grilled cheese, preferred it when it was an option and I could choose not to have it.
Our final choice of tacos were the buttermilk chicken tacos, this was crispy fried chicken, with pink pickled onions and spiced mayo, in two soft flour tortillas.
I have had these before also. The chicken was overcooked and dry, but I liked the pink pickled onions.
Overall these were nice tacos, not the best I’ve had, but certainly they were tasty.
We were up at Cribbs Causeway doing some shopping and we stopped at Patisserie Valerie for a coffee and a snack. There are quite a few places you can have a coffee at Cribbs, but what I like about Patisserie Valerie is that it is table service. So we sat at our table and looked over the menu. The place was busy, but the service was excellent, and we didn’t have to wait long to order.
Whilst my son went with the traditional breakfast, my first choice was an apricot danish, however they had run out. So I went with my second choice, which wasn’t a pastry, but Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit. Our food arrived promptly, which was nice, especially as the place was quite full of diners. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit was toasted bloomer bread topped with a poached egg, tomato chutney, cheddar, mustard & served with a side salad.
I don’t think I have ever had Rarebit before, so I was interested to see what it was going to be like. This was a nice cheesy toast dish, the mustard was subtle and added warmth. The poached egg was perfectly cooked. I liked the tomato chutney, which was on the side, I did think it was a little too sweet for me. Overall it was a really nice light meal.
I think one of the reasons I hadn’t ordered or had this dish before, was that usually I am looking for cake, or a full meal. Valerie’s Welsh Rarebit for me is more of a snack, or a light meal.
Alongside I had a flat white, not the best flat white in the world, but it was a good coffee.
For a recent Sunday lunch I decided that I would make my own cauliflower cheese, which would be gluten free.
I didn’t really follow a recipe, as partly I didn’t want to make too much, also not sure how appropriate recipes are when using gluten free ingredients.
I first made a cheese sauce, this was done by melting butter in a pan and then adding a similar amount of gluten free plain flour to make a roux. To this I added some milk to make a sauce. What I have found is that gluten free flour can thicken quite a lot, so don’t add too much. This is then cooked over a low heat to blend and thicken.
Once the sauce starts to thicken enough, I added greater cheddar cheese. I use a mature cheddar as I like a strong cheese flavour. I find you don’t want the sauce too thick, as cooking in the oven will thicken the sauce even more.
In an ovenproof dish I place the cauliflower florets, trying to ensure that they are all of a similar size. This is then covered in the cheese sauce and then place extra grated cheese on top.
Echoing the M&S dish, I added some small cubes of gluten free bread to add crunch.
This was then cooked in the oven for about 30 minutes.