Wednesday

Blissful weekend away at The Wellington Arms


taken from trip advisor

Each September we've started a bit of a tradition in getting out of London, heading to Hampshire and going to the Newbury show - a proper country folk knees up! The past two years we have decided to make a whole weekend of it and stay at the wonderful Wellington Arms in Baughurst - a beautiful country pub serving excelling food and houses three beautifully furnished rooms. It has now become one of my favourite places to go, it's just bliss.

This year we joined up with our friends, 'the soon-to-be Locks' whom are newly(ish) engaged and therefore making it also a weekend of celebrations. 

The pub has a small, self sufficient farm which they use throughout their dishes. The herbs used in the cooking are grown around the patio and garden and a small holding field is at the back of the land for their pigs, sheep, bees and chickens - possibly the freshest eggs I have ever had! 























We arrived at 6pm and collected our keys for the Hayloft room which is absolutely charming. 



New beams have been put in place to keep with the traditional features of the room. Where the old hayloft was is a cute reading area accessible only for those without a fear of heights! Mr D shot up there for a bit of R'n'R - probably to get away from me for an hour!! 




Up in the Hayloft.

It also features a rainfall shower, Aesop toiletries and the best part...an EMPEROR sized bed which is absolutely enormous.



What is quite obvious here is that Jason and Simon really have thought of every little detail - down to a 'tea'...




Quick shower and change before enjoying a G and T in the garden at 7pm before supper...it is literally, the perfect place for the drivers amongst us!


taken from Tripadvisor

Today's meal is scrawled on the blackboard in the main room above the fireplace. This evening there was also a special, of Lobster which sounded divine...




Once your choice is taken by one of the delightful staff a basket of freshly made bread and churned butter is delivered and quickly devoured.  


To start, I had the home cured ham hock, fennel and parsley terrine. Served with a mustard mayo, home grown leaves and hot toast. This was excellently balanced, seasoned and moreish. The fennel wasn't overpowering, cooked till soft and combined with the ham which was tender, sweet and succulent. The mustard mayo gave a good sharpness and a welcome addition to an already pretty much perfect dish.


Miss W went for the infamous twice baked cheese soufflĂ© on a bed of sautĂ©ed courgettes with cream and parmesan....it looked awesome!!


Mr L had the Char-grilled Channel squid with baba ganoush and home grown leaves. 


Mr D chose the Game terrine of local rabbit, wood pigeon and pork. Served with spiced apple chutney (home made) and char-grilled toast. I had a slither of this and it was delicious!


Onto mains, yet again I decided (on the second time of coming here) against having Grouse, and (yet again) I have regretted my decision, almost instantly, not to take advantage of the game bird when in season. That said, my 'whole baked plaice from the market with Samphire, boiled anya pots, brown butter and capers' was fantastic. Slightly tricky to de-bone, it was however, perfectly cooked to give flaky, juicy, white flesh. The samphire gave crunch and a punchy sea/salt taste to the dish. I decided to crush my sweet potatoes into the naughty seriously good, brown butter sauce, thus getting 'maximum soak up' of the stuff as possible.



Mr D chose the cod which I was slightly envious of as it looked and tasted divine. This was served with a parsley crust, on a Sicilian caponata of aubergine, tomato and pepper. It was excellent.



The soon to be Mr and Mrs both had the 10oz rib-eye steak, I know, match made in heaven hey? Served with hand cut chips and a jug of red wine jus. 



A side order of crushed minted peas was quickly gobbled up also...



As if we weren't full enough, but also to spend as much time in the quaint and snuggly dining room as possible, we shared two puds. The sorbet was gobbled up too quickly to picture... but the sticky toffee pudding with 'lashings of toffee sauce' was just about in tact for me to get a shot...



It was served with clotted cream but we decided on a dollop of vanilla ice cream as well... I know - 'such fatties' but totally worth it. This was without a doubt one of the best, if not the best, I have ever had and as my uni friends will know I love my Sticky Toff Pud! 

A home made slow gin, a whisky and a couple more glasses of fizz later it was time to turn in.

After a blooming good nights sleep, in the biggest bed I've ever slept in we pottered out to our 9:30 breakfast and our papers were laid out on the table along side two of their gorgeous hand-knitted tea cosies (which you can buy on site)...



Bread is served at your table with butter, home made condiments and a toaster so you can cook your bread as and when you want it - I loved this idea! 

Our food order was taken the night before so after a short while we were all given a delicious home made muesli with yoghurt, honey and fresh fruit. Such a lovely and unexpected touch to start breakie with.  


My breakfast was two sausages and poached eggs. Eggs were all cooked perfectly throughout the whole table. The sausages were absolutely incredible and I totally forgot to ask if they were their own...but I imagine they were as these were seriously good and tasted top notch!


The rest of the table had the full English. With being slightly jealous of that bacon I ordered a side dish of extra, which the chef was willing to accommodate for - thank you!!


Not only wonderful food and service from lovely staff, but excellent 5* accommodation. I don't know what more anyone could wish for. With only being 1hr from London it's the perfect escape for all you city beings that want a spot of fresh air and pampering. Why is hasn't been awarded a star? Lord knows, but I'm already looking forward to our trip neat year... 

The Wellington Arms, Baughurst Road, Baughurst, Hampshire, RG26 5LP

TEL: 0044 118 982 0110


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Tuesday

Tasty Moroccan Cous Cous


This dish has been my staple summer lunch/dinner/everything side dish...


Super tasty, filling and inexpensive for a crowd. Serve it with my Moroccan tagine for an authentic supper. This was cooked for me by my mum and I absolutely love it . It basically goes with anything and can spruce up a boring salad lunch!

You will need to serve 6:

500g Cous Cous
2oz butter - omit if you want it to be super healthy
4oz raisins
400ml stock chicken or veg
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1-2 deseeded chillies - chopped
Handful or both mint and coriander chopped up really small
Juice of 2 limes

Put cous, raisins and some salt in a bowl and add the boiled stock - cover and leave for 10 mins.

once cooled fluff it up with a fork.

Heat olive oil in a pan, add the paprika and cumin stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add the chilli and take off the heat to cool.

Add the flavoured oil to the cous cous once cooled.

Add the lime juice, mint and coriander - voila!




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Lamb or beef tagine...


I had a frugal last week of hardly spending anything. It's been my birthday and after a chaotic but enjoyable week of eating out I am now feeling the pinch and also that my jeans are a little bit tighter... dam you chocolate cake(s)!!

This week I have had a supper party of friends I haven't seen in a long old time... to save me being in the kitchen all evening on the night so enjoy maximum catching up I am cooking ahead. This dish is so easy and tasty it will be a staple dish for years to come...it will also serve a few extra hungry mouths the evening after. It's also under 400cals per portion so it's a pretty healthy choice too.

To serve 6 you will need:

1kg of lean braising steak or lamb - get the best quality you can
1 x butternut squash -cut into chunks (de-seeded also)
1 large white onion chopped 
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
2 x tins of chopped tomatoes
Coriander - stalks n all
800ml vegetable stock
200g prunes - stones out, roughly pull into pieces
4 table spoons of crushed shelled pistachios

spice mix:

Sea salt and ground black pepper to season
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons of Ras El Hanout
2 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika


Firstly mix all your spices and ginger together in a bowl.

Add the meat and give it a good mixing to get all the pieces covered in the rub. 





Cover and set aside for a minimum of 1.5hrs - to get the best flavour do this over night to marinate.



Once marinated, heat a generous glug of olive oil in a lidded casserole dish/pan (to cook on the hob) and fry the meat over a medium heat for 5 minutes. 

Add onion and coriander stalks and fry for another 5 minutes. 



Chickpeas and tomatoes next, then pour in 400ml of stock and stir. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on the pan or cover and reduce to a simmer for 1½ hours.

Once simmered, add your squash, the prunes and the rest of the stock plus 1/2 a tin of water measured in your tomato can. Give everything a gentle stir (you don't want to meat and squash falling apart),lid back on the pan and continue cooking for another 1½ hours.

 



Once the time is up, take the lid off. If it seems a bit too watery, add a teaspoon of cornflour to some water and mix into a paste, add this to the dish and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more, without the lid. It should be a decently thick consistency.


Taste and season with a pinch of salt. Scatter the coriander leaves (I omitted this as I don't love the stuff) over the tagine along with the crushed pistachios serve with my mums cous cous - delicious!





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Monday

The Dairy, Clapham

Clapham is becoming a real little foodie haven... with Trinity just down the road and the fantastic Moen's butchers The Dairy has picked a perfect spot for it's seasonal menu and fantastic ingredients. Four of us popped over for a natter over some delicious and innovative foods last Thursday and were pleasantly surprised... 

There are a few tables at the front free for walk ins, and the bar has a fantastic rustic feel to it - very much like Bistro Union further down the road. Friendly staff are happy to chat to you as you wait for your table and perch on hand made bar stools. It has a very relaxed charm and a great atmosphere that isn't always easy to find at 6:45 on a week night... several of my friends have been here and absolutely raved about it, so I was looking forward to a feast!

The drinks menu has classic cocktails, beers and delicious wines... have a glass of 'La Boheme' 2011, it was absolutely dreamy!
























The menu has a bit of a 'Dabbous' feel it to with suggestions of 3/4 plates per person to complete a meal, which will be brought out as a first course, second etc etc. 

Home baked bread was served piping hot with churned marrow butter (divine and horribly more-ish when one may be counting calories!!). This kept us occupied whist we looked through the dishes and found it near impossible to choose.



Split into five sections: snacks are to be shared or taken as an individual course, Garden, Sea, Land and the Sweet. Our waitress suggests one from each to create a 4 course individual menu. I didn't photograph all mainly just mine and Mr D's but the whole menu is divine!




An amuse bouche of chilled gazpacho arrived and was slurped up in an instant... perfectly seasoned and an absolute treat of a 'freebie'...




My 'Garden' choice was the Fresh Cocoa beans, egg yolk, Scottish Girolles. Simple, fresh flavours making this dish a superb starter and the girolles being the stand out flavour of the whole dish. One thing to note also is the crockery throughout the meal is absolutely gorgeous... i'm now on a hunt to find the plates and bowls! 




Mr D had courgettes, basil, buffalo milk curd and toasted pumpkin seeds. Another deliciously fresh, pretty and tasty dish to kick start the feast ahead. 



For the 'Sea' course I had the Diver scallop with caramel, cauliflower and malt.This was both Miss JJ's and I's favourite savoury dish although all are pretty close to the number one spot of the evening. My favourite element of the dish was the scallop crisp (the think brown petal like shapes on the plate). The caramel wasn't overpowering at all against the delicate shellfish which was perfectly cooked and super succulent.  



The boys went rogue here and both had a second 'Land' course Mr D had the suckling Pig belly, carrot, almond and ale pickle onions. Which looked delicious and had a decent slab of crisp crackling.





Miss JJ had a Garden dish here of peas, celery, mint and fried bread, also delicious.




For my 'Land' I had the lambs sweetbreads, anchovies, roof top garden salad. The sweetbreads were lightly fried in breadcrumbs, keeping their texture, and were seriously tasty, more-ish, plentiful and as the waitress stated 'something you could easily nibble at all day'.




Wanting to get the most out of the meal we dived straight into puddings. Myself and Mr E having the salted caramel, biscuits and malted barley ice cream. No where near as sickly as it may look below this pudding was one of the best sweets I have ever tasted, ever! Knocking the socks off the past few delicious desserts I have had... Mr E even went as far as saying it was as good if not better than the sweet treats at the Pollen Street dessert bar!!


The rest of the foursome having a much more elegant Hay ice cream, toffee apple and citrus ice.



Petit fours came in a gorgeous vintage sweet tin and consisted of, Apple jelly, a type of buttered biscuit and the most amazing mini cinnamon doughnuts still warm...mmmmmm...




The Dairy is bang on trend at the moment, seasonal produce shown off in the best possible way. I fear it will only get more expensive as the crowds descend. Its not just great cooking, it's fantastic cooking right on you lucky Claphamites door step!! 

A meal for two with drinks and service costs about £100. A seven-course tasting menu is £45-per-head. 15 The Pavement, SW4. www.the-dairy.co.uk, tel.0207 622 4165

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