Posts Tagged ‘pie’

A Two Hour Drive for Lemon Ice Cream

Friday, October 10th, 2014

*Warning: The following blog post contains discussions of food regurgitation (aka vomiting.) If you don’t want to hear about it, don’t read further.

I will travel great distances for good food and when my cousin, Les, told me about a lemon ice cream that could only be described as “orgasmic,” I decided I needed to try it. I have never heard anyone describe a food as orgasmic as repeatedly as Les did about this ice cream. Clearly it was good and clearly I needed some.

The fact that the ice cream was located a two-or-so hour drive at the Inn at Brough in the Lake District didn’t really bother me. Thankfully Les was so keen on this ice cream that she was willing to drive me there as a “Birthday Adventure Treat.” So yesterday my birthday continued in the form of a drive through the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District and an amazing lunch at the Inn at Brough. I’m a lucky girl.

We arrived at the Inn for our booked time slot of 1pm and were greeted by the very friendly staff members who knew that Les was ‘that woman who keeps calling to check they will have the ice cream.’ The restaurant was empty, but it was a rainy Thursday and apparently the place is booked out on weekends. I could see why – Brough is a small village and the Inn sits proudly in the centre, offering a comfortable place to come and sit, drink and eat. We were looked after by a delightful lady who was friendly, welcoming and very, very polite. The Inn is attempting to be a little bit fancy and the service reflected this. I preferred when she kept looking out of the window and across the road to her house where a man was pruning her trees.

View from window

Our rainy view

We ordered some wine and then our food, our grumbling stomaches dictating that we should both splurge and try the lamb and redcurrant pies seeing as the lamb would be local and therefore delicious. This was Error #1. Our menu reading eyes and greedy stomaches were far too hungry for their own good. We were told the pies would take 25 minutes to cook during which time we just salivated more and more for tender baby sheep.

When our food arrived we both recoiled at the size of the serving and made “Gosh, I’ll never finish this” noises. But as we tucked in and tasted the tender lamb, buttery pastry, crisp potatoes, sweet carrots and some heavily buttered snow peas, we couldn’t stop. Soon we had both devoured the majority of our food, not quite finishing simply to ‘leave room for the ice cream.’ This was Error #2. Hindsight suggests I should have chosen a cheese and pickle sandwich but I know it wouldn’t have been as delicious as the pie.

Lamb pie and vegetables

Mmm… pie.

It was really good – the meat wasn’t fatty and the flavours were fantastic although I didn’t taste much redcurrant. The chips were seriously crispy – these giant potato chunks had obviously been doused in some sort of animal’s fat and deep fried. Too good to stop eating. The vegetables were alright but nothing special. The snow peas were limp and dripping butter and the ratatouille looked and tasted like it had been made a few days ago and reheated. But overall it was a top plate o’ food.

The lovely server knew we were wanting the lemon ice cream for dessert and said she would give us ten minutes to digest before bringing it out. Such a wise lady. She would have been even wiser to suggest that we have a cup of tea instead. But no, we were there for the ice cream and so we should have it. Error #3.

Three balls of soft yellow ice cream were served rolling around on a plate with a chocolate swirl biscuit as garnish. It didn’t look beautiful but who cares? If this ice cream is really orgasmic then does presentation really matter?

Lemon ice cream

It ain’t pretty but it sure tastes good.

Les dived in first as I took the necessary photographs and there was that silence that you only get when people are sitting enjoying food on the other side of the table. She was a happy lady. The ice cream was creamy but not overly sweet with the lemon tang biting through. It was really, really good, although I kept getting strong hints of egg which kind of put me off. After one and a half balls I was reaching my cream/fat/excess food limit but I struggled on for the sake of having driven two hours to eat this dessert.

Was it orgasmic? I’m not quite sure but I am not a citrus lover. I also have difficulty eating large amounts of cream-based items and would never normally have three scoops of ice cream. But the flavours were definitely delicious and it was very good homemade ice cream. Compliments to the chef.

Reclining back in our seats, our over stuffed bellies were now grumbling in disgust at our greed. I had a cup of peppermint tea to aid my digestive system and Les had a cup of coffee. Both were served with shortbread biscuits on the saucer. Perhaps these were the ‘waffer thin’ mints that broke Mr Creosote in the infamous Monty Python scene. We were both feeling a little unwell.

I would like to point out, highlight and emphasise the fact that neither Les nor I believe the Inn at Brough was to blame for the events that followed. The food was perfect, there was absolutely nothing wrong with it whatsoever and I think you should definitely eat at the Inn. It was our own personal greed and in ability to handle rich food that led to us both experiencing moments of nausea that may or may not have resulted in one of us revisiting her lunch near the roman ruins of Brough Castle. Let’s just say, I will do anything to avoid vomiting so you can add up the clues by yourself to work out who it was.

Brough Castle

Scene of many battles and at least one upset stomach.

And so, with our disgruntled bellies and our acceptance that it just served us right for being greedy pigs, we headed off on an exploratory journey of the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales. Apart from intestinal explosions and the fairly insistent rain, it was a great day out and the meal at the Inn was definitely worth the drive. Perhaps not surprisingly, neither of us are in a huge rush to go back for more lemon ice cream, no matter how orgasmic it may be.

Trough of Bowland

A yellow beetle is the only way to roll on the Trough of Bowland

Magical, Mystical, Marvellous Food

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

I have great news, boys and girls. Last week my dedication to writing restaurant and bar reviews on Yelp was rewarded. I, Jessica Davies, have officially become a member of the Yelp Elite Team, making me one of Manchester’s most Important People. Ok, that last bit is an exaggeration but I now have a little “Elite ’14” badge on my Yelp profile and I get to feel special. Coinciding with this promotion in Yelp status, I was lucky enough to be invited to my second Yelp Elite Event. Last month’s japanese saké and food extravaganza continues to sit fondly in my memory, occasionally bringing back taste-bud-memory hits of wasabi and soy, and so I was a wee bit excited when I received my invitation to March’s Magical Mystery Tour. Where we would go and what we would eat was kept a big secret from us all. Nobody knew. Let the tour begin.

Meet at Apotheca at 6.30pm

This was our only clue as to what the night would entail. Apotheca is one of the Northern Quarter’s hip and cool cocktail bars and somewhere I had been wanting to try. I once danced the night away there on a make-shift dance floor that my friend and I created but I had never sampled their cocktails. The Yelp Elite Team had the downstairs bar area to ourselves where we were greeted by our always-cheery host, Jonny, and a mojito. After standing around and meeting and greeting fellow Elite members, we were then treated to a variety of pizzas from Dough, the adjoining pizzeria. I had eaten at Dough once previously and while I enjoyed the slightly adventurous toppings, the bases were a little disappointing. Why can’t anywhere in Manchester make a decent pizza base? Once again I found the toppings delicious (the lamb with spices and sultanas was particularly tasty) but the bases were thin, cracking and far too perfectly shaped. They collapsed in our hands and had soggy bottoms.

While we were eating, we were invited to get behind the bar and have a cocktail making session with the mixologists. We could choose our drink of choice from their great range of drinks and then make them ourselves with the guidance of experts. I chose to make a cocktail called Just Beet It which contained vodka, beetroot juice, balsamic vinegar liqueur and basil. After adding all of the ingredients and giving it a good old shake, I was then allowed to drink my concoction. Amazingly good! I think my inner mixologist is bursting to come out.

Just Beet It

Just Beet It

I had to drink it fairly quickly though as our next destination awaited and it was time to move on.

Venue #2 – Pie & Ale

I had managed to get my friend and office-buddy, Hannah, to be invited to the Elite event so we were both a little concerned when we found ourselves walking back to the office. Pie & Ale is located next door to the office space we rent and we often get to enjoy the enticing smells of baking pies. Thankfully this time we were actually going to get to eat the pies – sixteen of them, to be precise. We were guided upstairs to a lofted seating area where we met the manager of Pie & Ale who explained what our next food and drink experience was going to involve. The chefs had prepared sixteen different pies for us to stick our forks into and sample and we would have three different beers to wash them down with. I tried to sample as many of the pies as I could – rabbit, wild bore, chickpea and, one of the highlights, crocodile. They were all very tasty although I think they could refine their pastry – it is very doughy and a bit excessive. And this is coming from someone who loves pastry and believes more is more.

Crocodile pie

Crocodile pie

The beers we tried were the Golden Arrow, Yippee Pie Ale and the 10 Storey Malt Bomb – basically golden, pale and dark. All very delicious with the dark ale coming out as my favourite. But who doesn’t like liquid caramel?

Our tour didn’t stop here – oh no. Why only go to two venues when you could go to three? Time to move on.

Venue #3 – Bakerie

We didn’t have far to walk to get to our next location. Bakerie is located next door to Pie & Ale and owned by the same company. Despite these connections, Bakerie is a bit more ooh-la-la and focuses on its wine. And cheese. You can imagine the delighted faces of us already happy Yelpers when we discovered we had free access to the “Wine Jukebox” – a glass fronted box containing approximately 12 wine bottles. Inserted into each wine bottle was a plastic tube. Above each bottle was a button. Push the button and wine is sucked up the tube and into your glass, giving you a taster-sized serving to enjoy. Glorious. Paris and all that I learnt about wine flooded back to me as I made a strategic decision about which wines I would try. My choices ended up being two of three most expensive wines in the jukebox – an Argentinian Malbec and the French Bourgogne. They were both amazing and the sort of wine I will drink when I am a world famous author. They were made even better by the cheese platters placed in front of us. Blue, smoked, goat, soft and squeaky (halloumi) – the cheese and wine combo made Jess a very happy girl.

This was the end of our mystery food tour and we all sat around rubbing our bellies, unable to believe just how much we had consumed and how wonderful the experience had been. The Yelp Elite are a great bunch of food-loving people and it was a really fun night out. It is nice to meet people who appreciate good food as much as I do and a huge treat to be able to be invited to such a gluttonous event. Bring on April!

Birthday Pie

Friday, August 30th, 2013

I wish to officially announce that I am one of the luckiest people in the world and that I am friends with some of the greatest, coolest, best-looking and down right bonza people EVER. Last night I was reminded of this fact when my friend, Pooja, invited me to her house for dinner. Pooja had spent the day saving lives, performing surgery and puncturing people with scalpels and needles and yet still managed to get home and whip me up a SUPER SPECIAL SURPRISE-FILLED BIRTHDAY DINNER!

This three-course menu consisted of home-made beef and mushroom BIRTHDAY PIES served with sweet potato chips and salad.

Birthday pie!

Birthday pie!

This was then followed by TWO dessert courses! I know a friend is a real friend when they feed me two desserts. The first round – a banana BIRTHDAY CAKE adorned with a significant number and cats in candle form.

Birthday cake!

Birthday cake!

The second, two flavours of ice cream, strawberries and meringue. Pooja also bought a bottle of something pink, fizzy and containing indistinguishable ingredients that when combined had created a potentially dangerous drink that just tasted like cordial.

We sat by her window and had views out over the Manchester ship canal while discussing the highs and lows of getting old. We’ve now decided that 38 is the new 28 which was the new 18. So we still have another ten years to go before we have to become serious adults. It was a great night. On top of all of this, Pooja bought me a vintage red Parker Pen from 1964 – the perfect instrument for a writer who is slightly obsessed with red. A major thank you to Pooja for looking after me and being my surrogate sister. I still think we could be identical twins, if only we looked more alike.

The older you get, the more impressive the fire you can create on top of your birthday cake.

The older you get, the more impressive the fire you can create on top of your birthday cake.

Serious Apple Pie

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

I am currently sitting on the train from Sheffield to London digesting. Ben and I went to his local pub, The Broadfield, for lunch and both rolled home in a state of extreme excess. Ben was worse than me having chosen the beef and mushroom pie which is served with hand cut potato chips and mushy peas. The pies are very good but I wanted dessert so I was somewhat smart and chose the leek, potato and stilton soup. We both then ordered apple and walnut pies. In my mind I pictured a decent slab of sweet pastry filled with soft apples and the odd bit of nut. I had quickly dashed off to the loo and returned to discover a PIE THE SIZE OF MY HEAD sitting on my plate. It wasn’t just a slice, it was a full pie with a pastry lid and everything. Next to it, the ball of vanilla ice cream looked miniscule. Ben and I looked at each other and just laughed – how the hell were we going to eat these things?

That's a big pie.

That’s a big pie.

The answer was ‘we couldn’t.’ We tried – oh how we tried, but we both left large amounts of pastry cases on our plates. I usually love the pastry more than the filling, but even I couldn’t tackle this. The pie innards were very good – huge chunks of apples with whole walnuts and dates. Seriously tasty. But way, way, way too much. Even if Ben and I had shared one we wouldn’t have been able to finish.

It pains me to leave food on my plate, particularly when I have enjoyed it, but if I had continued to eat my stomach would have exploded into a hundred million pieces, strewing itself throughout the pub with large chunks of pastry hitting other customers’ faces. And I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about it.

Best. Rue. Ever.

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Today I went to Rouen and discovered the best street – rue – in existence.

Rue de la Pie

Mmm... pie.

The name was the only really good thing about it, but WHAT A NAME!

More about Rouen tomorrow… For now, I go to sleep.

Pie.

Monday, April 30th, 2012

As I mentioned in my last entry, one of the main reasons why I am uncertain about my ability to complete the 40-in-40 challenge is that I need to eat. However, I will claim baking and the invention of desserts as a creative challenge. Therefore my strawberry and rhubarb pie that I baked to take to my friends’ house for dinner counts.

Strawberry and rhubarb pie

Pie.

It was a bit of a flop. It tasted ok but the pastry didn’t turn out how I hoped and it exploded in the oven, so as far as baking successes go, this wasn’t really one of them. However, we learn from our mistakes, don’t we kids? Next time I know to be less lazy and make my own pastry rather than blindly buying pre-made pastry from the supermarket and choosing the wrong one. Oops.

HAPPY THANKS GIVING!

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The great thing about living at the Récollets is that I get to meet people from all over the world who bring with them delicious food-based holidays. Tonight Tom and I have been invited to a belated Thanks Giving dinner with our two American friends, Jen and Greg. They have recently managed to score themselves an apartment in Paris (how they managed to do this is still a mystery to me) and so we’re celebrating with turkey and pilgrims.

As I am the proud owner of an oven and I stupidly said, “I’ll do it!”, I have been put in charge of the pumpkin pie. I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard because everyone in America and Canada makes pumpkin pie every year and if they can do it then I can too. It was then that multiple Americans informed me that the now ‘traditional’ way of making pumpkin pie is to buy a pre-made pastry case, pour in canned “Pie Pumpkin” and then bake. That’s called cheating. I not only REFUSED to use canned pumpkin, I also realised there was no way in the world I would ever find it in France, so I then had to find a real pumpkin. That’s almost as difficult. Pumpkin isn’t really France’s number one vegetable, despite it being versatile and utterly delicious! Crazy French. But by some sort of Thanks Giving miracle, I managed to find myself a butternut pumpkin in the first fruit and vegetable store I looked in. Thank you, Holy Pilgrims.

Yesterday evening I made the pastry and the pumpkin mush, in preparation for today, thinking I might be heading out and doing something. Turns out I have spent the entire day at home making this thing. Pastry and I aren’t really friends although I have managed to produce something resembling short crust pastry. It’s just a bit stumpy in the pan and resulting in the size of my pie being reduced significantly. Therefore I had far too much filling, the left overs of which I have just cooked in the oven without pastry in order to taste the pumpkiny-centre to check that no one will die.

And it has been a success! It tastes GOOOOOOOOOOD! I am looking forward to having the pastried version now and am feeling slightly less worried about presenting the pie to my relatively new friends. I figure it isn’t my fault it isn’t the perfect pumpkin pie because I’m not American and therefore do not have the genetics to create such a thing.

Pumpkin pie

Mmm... pie...