Eat, Drink & Be Merry!
I admit it! I am in no way a foodie. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating and I certainly enjoy the experience of dining out; I’m just not that into all the culinary delights that are or on offer. Just ask my local, The Bell at Stoke Mandeville. The most common order I put in is for Mini Sausages with Mustard (or occasionally Bubble & Squeak – to die for!) for starter followed by Sausages & Mash for main! I know, I can hear the screams from chefs around the country already, but I absolutely love sausages and plain food. Perhaps it was my Scottish up-bringing? Good, basic, home-cooking – mince and tatties, steak and kidney pies, roast beef, chicken – with vegetables (forget the myth that the Scots don’t eat their veg, we love it!). My grandfather had a lovely garden where he grew everything from lettuce, carrots and spring onions to rhubarb and blackcurrants. Grandad’s Vegetable Soup was always something I looked forward to when I stayed there and my grandmother’s jam-making sessions will forever stay in my memory.
I don’t even cook that much … at all. I have a wonderful husband who absolutely lives to eat. Quite often, before we’ve even finished the current dinner offerings, he asks what I’d like for dinner two days hence! My brain just doesn’t work that way. He’s happy toiling away in our kitchen, pouring over the latest Jamie or Ramsay book, creating tasty dishes for us to enjoy – so long as it’s not too fancy. He does despair of me sometimes and looks forward to when I have an evening out so he can indulge in his favourites. But, as I write this I’m reminded that I must book a table for Sunday lunch. Another lovely local pub we go to is The Plough in Cadsden where they serve the most delicious roasts. Both The Plough and The Bell use local suppliers which, to my mind, makes the food even tastier. Of course, our taste buds are not just tempted by the delicacies of our local establishments, we look forward to booking days out in London to sample what’s on offer there too. Last year’s restaurant list includes Mews of Mayfair (an absolute find!), Barrafina (mouth-watering tapas, an old favourite), The Roof Garden Kensington, 21 Covent Garden and The Botanist at Sloane Square. It’s always regarded as a real treat to be able to dine out, to choose what you want from an array of dizzying dishes and moments later it’s brought out to you, along with a refreshment of choice. I’ve always envied Americans who seem to dine out all the time; or at least that’s how it’s protrayed in most of the films and shows I watch. Heading out to dinner is as normal as meeting a friend for coffee. How nice that would be, to eschew the responsibility of the evening meal and head out whenever you felt like it. More often than not, though, I’m scratching my head as to what we can have, if I’ve remembered to take anything out of the freezer that is!
Coming up I have a Burns’ Supper to prepare for – 25th January. Now this is something that I can do. MacSween Haggis, turnips, potatoes and whisky gravy – simple. Pondering over the starter and pudding – wild boar pate or the more traditional cock-a-leekie soup, with Cranachan or perhaps just go straight for the cheese? I’ll ponder a while longer.
This year I’m looking forward to visiting a few more eateries, new places that have opened or old ones that I’ve always thought about going to. Perhaps I’ll make it a New Year’s resolution to go more places more often and try something other than bangers and mash. No longer will I wait for a birthday or anniversary as a reason to dine out, I will go forth and book tables!
All recommendations are welcome.
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