I was not living it up in Germany this October, partaking of large steins of beer as the title of the blog might suggest. October however was a bit of a food fest for the Grumbling Tummy collective. Mind you I am not sure which month is not a food fest for us!
The first week of October found us perched on cliffs in a rather fabulous caravan just outside Filey on the Yorkshire coast. It was a holiday of tromping along windswept beaches and revisiting sentimental spots such as Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay. Ah that sounds romantic! It was also a holiday of swimming pools, penny arcades, water zorbing and of course EATING far too much!
HUMBLE PIE AND THE BLITZ
Whitby is one of my favourite destinations of all time for a winter break and the first place we make a bee line for on arrival is a very small restaurant near the harbour called Humble Pie. Humble pie as the name would suggest sells pies and the odd plate of sausage and mash. That is pretty much yer lot – but oh what pies they sell. From your traditional steak and kidney & mince and onion through to lamb and mint, homity and feta and roast vegetable. Pies here are served as they ought to be – with mash, gravy and a choice of beans or mushy peas and the correct way to accompany this meal is with a steaming hot mug of Yorkshire tea. It is really the best start to an autumnal break. I opted for a mince and onion pie with and gravy and as always it was splendid. They don’t have much choice but it is all about perfecting the e pies and they are damned good at what they do.
Humble Pie is brim full of nostalgia from a bygone era, a theme embraced by another Whitby eatery. The Blitz cafe is a 1940s war time themed cafe complete with Glen Miller drifting from an old Wurlitzer juke box and interesting interior decor which includes sandbags piled up the walls. For a concept cafe the food was surprisingly good as often such places are all style and no substance. Aside from having a bit of a random tapas menu, the theme of the menu is firmly set in WW2. There are goodies such as bread and dripping, the battle ground ration board (ham, cheese, bread, apple and pickles) and ration bags for mini evacuees which included sandwiches, fruit, cake and juice. I plumped for the Welsh Rarebit which is something you don’t see very much these days and it was absolutely delicious. Huge hunks of bread with bubbling hot melted spiced cheese. Not sure what they used for flavouring – mustard for sure, Henderson’s relish perhaps. What I do know is that this tasty dish was more than enough to put a smile on my face and provide the fuel needed to get me up the 99 steps to Whitby Abbey.
PROSECCO LUNCH CLUB AT SEASONS
Back on home ground for a much posher affair with the Prosecco Lunch Club. We are 4 pals who meet once every two months for a spot of lunch and fizz. There are rules too …… oh yes there are! So shared interest of food and fizz and a rule and we have us a club. This month we went to a little restaurant in Edinburgh’s Broughton Street called Seasons. I was led to believe that this was an unconventional eatery in that we would be given a list of seasonal ingredients to choose from and then a dish would be created – voila! A bit like Can’t Cook Won’t Cook for toffs. This was not the case for lunches sadly, so instead we chose from a rather lovely small lunch menu which came at a very reasonable price.
Before I launch into the food, a little bit about the restaurant itself. It very intimate with a warm Nordic vibe – incredibly tasteful and simple really. Strangely for a Saturday afternoon in the heart of our capital – there was nobody else dining there. I can only assume that it attracts food loving couples who flock there of an evening to gaze at each other by candlelight. Either that or it is actually a restaurant for vampires – take your pick. It is certainly is not the food that was keeping the crowds at bay – for that was very very good indeed.
We all chose smoked duck to start (In house smoked duck – mushroom & black truffle salsa, blackcurrant, lamb sorrel, Scottish brambles) and there were squeals of delight (OK that was just from me) when the duck arrived underneath a little cloche filled with smoke. It was all very theatrical and Hestonesque when the cloche was removed and the smoke escaped. We would have applauded if we have not been coughing in unison. To be honest it was impressive and that duck was moist and tender to a fault. The intense smokey flavouring was perfectly balanced by the fruit. All in all a great start.
I then moved onto venison ravioli. It was actually a single whopping ravioli filled with venison and it was truly delicious. Tender and seasoned to perfection, it was served with a delightful sauce which was only a tad on the foamy side. I generally loathe foam on a menu. I feel (and please excuse my lack of finesse on this matter) that is looks like spit on my food. Best to be an honest blogger! However this main course merely hinted at foam without offending me and it tasted wonderful.
My dessert as you can see resembled a deconstructed cheesecake affair full of chocolate soil and dehydrated shards of raspberry. We were a few wines in at this point therefore the finer points of this course dessert me – boom boom! Safe to say it tasted heavenly.
With the beautifully presented and unfaltering flavoursome food, the attentive service and pleasant surroundings I would find it hard to find fault with Seasons. It is a cut above the rest of the non-Michelin brigade but had the feel of a restaurant striving for that status. The only problem for a greedy blogger for me was the portion sizes. Modest portions have me running for a burger on the way home but as I say – I am just rather on the greedy side.
BUMPER CROPS AND ZOMBIES
I decided that this summer I was going to grow vegetables for the first time ever and embarked on project tomato. Easy the Dobbies lady said ….. cannot fail she said. And you know what? She was right – in a way. So I planted the little seeds and before long they sprouted and I was like a proud parent cooing and bragging to everybody who would listen. There were 30 plants in total and I loved them all, chatting to them and feeding them until they were big enough for a second round of re-potting. Bursting with pride I decided it was time to share my good fortune. I kept 10 plants for myself and split the rest between two friends. My 10 plants grew and grew but alas no flowers appeared. After an aborted attempt at sheltering them in a temporary greenhouse which fell foul of a gale force wind, I was left with 5 plants and still no flowers. Finally one little solitary flower on one plant appeared. I was beyond excited, my faith had been restored. In the mean time the other 20 plants which had been adopted, were growing like bloody triffids and drooping with the weight of all of the beautiful tomatoes sprouting like wildfire. Bitter – hell yes! So here it is, my bumper crop. One beautiful round red cherry tomato, eaten in a tuna salad on a Friday lunchtime. It was wonderful. I am still finding it hard to come to terms with the other treacherous 20 plants but I am getting there. Counselling helps!
Do you ever look at pinterest? Does this not remind you of a classic pinterest fail? It is actually from the ASDA magazine and these beauties in case you didn’t know are Sausage Mummies. Embracing Halloween I decided that I would attempt some mummy, daughter cooking. As always with mummy/daughter pursuits there is a huge gulf between how I imagine the task unfolding and how it actually unfolds. After 6 years I still have not got to grips with the fact that the romantic magazine notion of crafting/cooking with your kids is a big fat lie. You know the one – where they are smiling and engaged, with perhaps a cute splodge of icing on their nose which mum wipes whilst laughing gaily. Here is how it goes in our house.
Me: Hey look at these, aren’t they fab? Shall we make them together N: yeah!
Then after eagerly buying the ingredients (mayo, frankfurters and puff pastry)
Me: OK honey are we ready to make these mummies? N: I am watching My Little Pony Me: well why don’t we put that off and do this together N: you just do it and I will eat them Me: muttered expletives not fit for blog
So I bugger about with the pastry and the sausages on my own and then cook them but the mayonnaise makes them look like depressed mummies – which is ironic! Anyway I suppose I ought to be grateful that she ate them. Harumph!
That’s all for October Folks. November round up coming soon where I swoon over a new restaurant discovery in St Andrews …