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During our travels last weekend, we visited Mr Rigg’s granny and went out for lunch with her.  We went to The White Oak in Cookham and ate the most delicious lunch.

Now we’ve been to The White Oak once before, but it was on such a sad occasion following a funeral that I can’t remember the food.  However, this time the food will stick with me for a long time.  It was superb. 

Not only has this pub been lovingly refurbished, but the staff are so friendly and polite and the food utterly scrumptious.  Sadly I have no photos of our meal, but Mr Rigg and his granny ate beer-battered fish and chips which was served on a wooden board, the chips (which were excellent) came in a tiny metal bucket. 

For my meal I choose a vegetarian main of Parmesan gnocchi in a winter vegetable broth.  When it arrived it the portion seemed quite small compared to the hunks of batter fish beside me.  However, it was delicate, delicious, beautifully presented, and incredibly tasty.  Just three homemade Parmesan gnocchi sat upon a heap of tiny cubed vegetables surrounded by a pool of clear broth.  Wow – just excellent food.

It was the kind of food I would like to eat every night of the week, but I’m quite sure it would take me many years to learn how to make gnocchi so soft and melt in the mouth, and a clear broth packed with oodles of flavour.  I guess I had better get started!

Images: The UK Restaurant Guide

Today as part of our holiday at home, Mr Rigg, Buddy and I drove up into Lancashire for a day of walking and eating.  It was a fantastic sunny day (which is was a welcome surprise!) and we started with a long walk from Hurst Green.  We followed a Tolkien-inspired trail which can be downloaded here.

It was a lovely walk, which took us through lush fields of cows, past the turrets and observatory of Stoneyhurst College, down into damp woods with mossy streams, past fields of sweetcorn and rushing rivers. 

There were lots of cute calves like these ones…

And this sweet one!

Buddy – who it seems has never seen a stream before – slowly built up enough confidence to paddle. 

This walk takes you through a landscape that it said to have inspired Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books and you can definitely seem glimpses as you pass through this countryside.  I am a huge fan of the books so it was exciting to do this walk!

After our long hot walk we rewarded ourselves with lunch at The Three Fishes – one of Nigel Howarth’s country pub’s. 

We have eaten at The Highwayman Inn up near Kirkby Lonsdale which we really enjoyed – I had a ploughman’s platter with scrumptious piccalilli –  so it was easy to decide where to eat on our day out.  Plus there is a huge emphasis on local and seasonal food.

We sat at a table outside so that Buddy could sit with us.  I drank a cool chocolate milkshake and Mr Rigg a pint of ale whilst we waited for our food.  Chocolate milkshake takes me back to my childhood and I still love ordering it now. 

To start Mr Rigg had Three Fishes Fish Soup, Wicked Mayonnaise, Butlers Tasty Lancashire Cheese, and Garlic Croutons.

The soup was rich and fishy with a good kick of spice, the Lancashire cheese was crumbled and served in a tiny terracotta pot, and the ‘wicked mayonnaise’ was blushed red with flecks of fresh chilli.

I chose a dish from their seasonal menu which was a Salad of Cracked Wheat, Sweet & Sour Bank’s Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Garden Peas and a Yoghurt & Cucumber Dressing. 

I wish I could eat this salad everyday for lunch – it was so delicious.  The salad of cracked wheat, broad beans and garden peas was studded with fresh herbs and red onion, and topped with cherry tomatoes that had been cooked just until bursting.  Then drizzled round the edge was this cooling dressing of yoghurt and cucumber.

Mr Rigg’s main was from the seasonal menu – Gazegill Farm Organic Sandy Oxford Black Pork Faggots, Girolle Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potato, Broad Beans and Garden Peas.

Neither of us had tried faggots before but Mr Rigg enjoyed them and the tiny morsel that I tried was delicious, but probably an acquired taste – very different in texture and flavour to something similar in shape like a meatball or burger.  Mr Rigg said it was coarser and a stronger flavour like that of liver.  It’s always nice to try something a bit different.

And for my main I pigged out with an Elmwood Platter of Local Seafood which included: Port of Lancaster Beech & Juniper Smoked Salmon, Lancaster Smoked Kipper, Hot Smoked Trout, Potted Morecambe Bay Shrimps, Smoked Mackerel Pâté, Picked Cucumber, Beetroot Relish, Horseradish Cream, and Homemade Bread. 

The smoked salmon with speckled with tiny capers and shreds of red onion, the potted shrimp fragrant and warm, the smoked trout went deliciously with the sweet earthy beetroot relish, and the pickled cucumber cut through all those flavours of fish. 

The smoked mackerel pâté was light like a mousse, a tiny mouthful on a toasted circle of bread, topped with micro herbs.

I have never tried kippers before, and although it is a very strong flavour and perhaps not something I would order on its own, as part of a platter like this it was delicious.

We had initially planned to stop eating here…but I was too tempted by Raspberry Jelly with Vanilla Ice Cream

…and Mr Rigg easily gave into the lure of homemade Milk Chocolate Chip and Marshmallow Ice Cream with chocolate sauce.  Not a good shot of the ice cream, Mr Rigg was very protective after I nabbed the first mouthful which got me in a lot of trouble…

Both were absolutely delicious.

Our lunch was finished off with a glimpse of Nigel Haworth himself who arrived at the pub just before we left.  If you’re in Lancashire, do make sure you stop at one of Nigel’s country pubs – we can certainly recommend the food from both The Three Fishes and The Highwayman!

I’m not one for putting photos of myself on here, but I love this picture of Buddy and I out on our walk…

Happy holidays!

The past two weeks I feel have hardly seen me eat a homecooked meal.  I have eaten all kinds of food all over the country – some good, some bad, some better than others – but what I can say is that I am ready to eat platefuls of my own, homecooked food.

Here’s my two weeks in food.

1. Bradford ~ unexciting council catered sandwiches but delicious, spicy, vegetable samosas.

2. North Yorkshire ~ sandwiches under cling film, pretty tasty chunky cut ham sandwiches, good looking fruit scones but needed a minute in the microwave to soften.

3. London ~ more platters of sandwiches, this time M&S and fridge-cold, very nice goat’s cheese and sweet pickled carrot on grain bread shame about the cold.

4. Lancaster ~ disappointing pub meal in hotel, lots of local produce but cooked terribly, worst ‘crab’ cakes ever eaten – thick, grey stodge – yuk!  Nice chocolate ice cream to save the day.

5. Kirkby Lonsdale ~ country pub lunch, good tasting ploughman’s with mustard yellow piccalilli, thick roast ham, and a Scotch Egg – dry bread but a won over by a chocolate milkshake.

6. Manchester ~ Polish lunch at training, a truly delicious beef and potato stew!

7. Chorlton ~ work Christmas party at Ostara, divine winter solstice vegetable and spice soup (a secret recipe!), scrummy cider pot roast ham with all the Christmas trimmings, but a sadly disappointing chocolate yule log. More on Ostara here

8. Manchester ~ another wonderful Polish lunch, cheese filled pierogi’s topped with caramelised onions, and sausage and cabbage stew – am on the hunt for this Polish takeaway for more more more!

My conclusion – a dismal meal can always be saved by excellent chocolate ice cream.

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Next week in Manchester is the annual Food & Drink Festival.  All week long there will be different foodie offers at various eating establishments around the city, and a number of ‘fringe’ festivals in suburbs of the city. 

My regular grocery shopping district is Chorlton, a part of Greater Manchester that is stuffed full of wonderful places to buy, eat and enjoy excellent food and drink.  Recently we heard about a newish restaurant called Ostara, a ‘modern British restaurant’ that claims to serve food made from the ‘finest organic and locally sourced ingredients available.’

ostara

N and I decided it sounded well worth sampling to see if the food was as good as it promised.  Situated on a busy street in Chorlton, Ostara greets you with a warm but stylish interior of mossy green walls, sleek but functional wooden furniture, framed botanical prints, and vintage bottles filled with seasonal flowers and foliage.

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We ordered Fentiman’s Old Fashioned Lemonade while we looked through their weekday set menu.  At 2 courses for £11 and an option for 3 courses at a price I can’t remember, it seems very good value for money if they provided the quality ingredients they advertised.

The menu was full of options that I would have happily chosen.  In the end we opted for starters of a goats cheese and onion tartlet and a wild mushroom pate with carrot chutney, and for mains N chose bangers and mash and I decided to try the savoury steamed pudding with leek, spinach and Red Leicester cheese.  I have searched online for their menu so that I could give you the full description of these dishes, but to no avail.

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N’s goats cheese and onion tartlet was deliciously creamy and very cheesy.  It came with corn salad (or mache to some people) and something that tasted like an unusual pesto – if only I had written down the description from the menu.

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When my pate arrived I was delighted.  I was expecting a smooth pate, but it was in fact a very coarse pate made from wild mushrooms, many of which were distinguishable.  In a small dish I had what was described as carrot chutney, which was in fact marinated grated carrot with what I think were coriander seeds spotted through it – it was delicate, and fragrant and spicy and went wonderfully with the pate and toast.

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I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my savoury steamed pudding, and when it arrived to first look at it was slightly odd.  A large dome of soft beige pastry.  However, once I dug my knife into it, out of it oozed this buttercup yellow sauce dotted with tiny chunks of vegetables.  It was as delicious as everything else we had eaten so far, although I did struggle towards the end with some of the pastry. 

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N’s ‘bangers and mash’ were in fact two fat sausages (I believe from out door reared piggies) and a colcannon mash which was laced with slithers of savoy cabbage.  The fat sausages were perfectly browned, and meaty but not overpowering (like some we ate in Italy, which were a little too meaty for our tastes). 

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Both our dishes were accompanied by the same vegetables, which we found refreshing compared to restaurants that serve different vegetables with each dish.  These were cooked exactly to our taste, tiny carrots soft and giving but still with bite in the centre, vibrant green sprouting broccoli that hadn’t been cooked to a mush, and finally some green beans, still crunchy in the middle.

What a treat!  Ostara serves up delicious, British-inspired, seasonal food that leaves you feeling like you’ve just eaten a wonderfully prepared homecooked meal.  If you’re in Manchester – don’t forget to stop here for a bite to eat.

So, I must confess, I was hoping tonight to share a lovely meal N and I had last night at a fab new restaurant in Manchester…however, it appears I have left our camera with all the great images of our meal in our car…which in turn is in the garage having its exhaust fixed.

Fingers-crossed the car will be back tomorrow and along with it the camera. Then I shall share some scrumptious food, including a divine wild mushroom pate and a savoury steamed pudding.

My little sister is as I type getting on a train down south – her very first solo train journey (she’s only 15) – to come and stay with us for the week.  I can’t wait!  I am so excited.  Living about 3 hours from my family means that we don’t see them a great deal, well not as much as I’d like, and with a 15 year old sister I would very much like to spend more time with her.

I have been planning her week based around eating and shopping!  Hopefully I will have some yummy food to post about later this week, probably with an Asian twist (she’s dying for some sushi!) and most defintitely vegetarian.  I am also hoping that she will take some fab pictures of my garden and house as she is the talent behind the newly created TheGreenOrchard photography blog – make sure you take a look!

greenorchard

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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