Norfolk: pizza at The Jolly Sailors

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August in Norfolk is peak season, and the heat wave probably added to that. We’re talking car queues on every road leading to the beach, full car parks, looong ice cream queues, and packed beaches. So you can imagine that if you want a last minute reservation to a restaurant you have to be verrrry lucky.

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That’s why I really like places like The Jolly Sailors, where you don’t need to book (unless you’re a large group), can just show up on a whim, order a pizza and find yourself a table underneath vines and fairy lights.

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It’s rustic, semi-cosy, but also welcome to all. There’s an eclectic mix of guests and a large playground for the kiddos out back. And they make good pizzas (and offer takeaway too).

We had a very impromptu date night here on our last night, and as much as I love fancy restaurants and elaborate menus, sometimes a pizza in a beer garden with someone special is just the ticket.

The Jolly Sailors, Main Road, Brancaster Staithe PE31 8BJ

Norfolk: seafood dinner at The Hoste

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One of the evenings in Norfolk in August we all went out for dinner at The Hoste in Burnham Market. It was my first time there, but the others had all been before.

To start I just had to have the Norfolk oysters, as it’s such a treat to have fresh local seafood, and they did not disappoint. Lovely, almost buttery, oysters. So yummy!

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Most of us around the table had the Lobster Thermidor and fries as our main course and it was really nice. We had a really nice dinner here, but the service could have been a lot faster and more attentive, so I hope that improves.

But nice food and atmosphere!

The Hoste, The Green, Burnham Market, King’s Lynn PE31 8HD

Market Harborough: a seriously good hot chocolate!

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On a grey day earlier this year I insisted on a little trip to Market Harborough when we were nearby for the weekend. We had a little walk around the quaint town, looking in a cookshop (I’m always drawn to those), some clothes shops and did some errands.

After a couple of hours it was tea time and we looked around for a nice local café, but we could only see the big chains which was not very appealing. But then we spotted a nice looking chocolate shop. And they had chairs in the window, and so must be serving something. Maybe hot chocolate?! Which was on my mind anyway since it was a cold and grey day.

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They were almost about to close but let us in anyway. We got to try different types of chocolate and choose which one we wanted for our hot chocolate. I opted for a milk chocolate while by boyfriend chose a darker one.

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We also got to choose a truffle each to go with the hot drink and then we sat down. We got a large cup of warm frothy skimmed milk (it goes better with the chocolate than whole milk they explained) which we added our chocolate buttons to and stirred until they had melted.

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I really liked that we got to do this ourselves (it felt like a lovely little ceremony, much like pouring tea through a tea strainer and adding milk and sugar) as it added to the anticipation of the drink, which (of course) was utterly delicious. Definitely one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had! The crunchy salted caramel truffle I got was lovely too and I can’t wait to come back here and stock up on both chocolate for drinking and some lovely truffles.

Cocoa Amore, 14 The Square, Market Harborough, LE16 7PA

Kent: Michelin star luncheon at The Sportsman

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This Michelin star restaurant has been on my to-eat-list (yes, I have one of those…) for quite some time and I was thrilled when my Kent-based friends Helen and Pete suggested we go there for lunch together. We booked it several months before and finally went in May this year (sorry it’s taken me forever to do the write up!).

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Quite unlike most other one star places The Sportsman is really relaxed and rustic. You place your order at the bar (while looking at the daily changing menu noted down on the black board next to it) and go sit down.

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The food takes a similar approach and is really well prepared out of the best ingredients but with a rustic no-fuss approach. Which people love! Especially chefs, who vote this as their favourite restaurant year after year.

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I obviously like the approach too, and from the get-go it’s pure perfection. The three different types of bread are all very good, the olives are of the buttery kind and the butter is just heavenly. A good start.

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Pete and Helen are just as excited as I am, although they’ve been here before and Pete and I can’t resist the oysters, which were served two ways and both delicious!

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It was only also Pete and I who ordered starters, but we shared them at the table. The terrine with mustard, pickles, grilled sourdough and crispy scratchings was so nice. Everything was just perfectly executed.

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My tomato, burrata and pesto may look simple, but it was perfectly put together and had the best pesto I’ve ever tasted.

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Helen had the beef and Yorkshire pudding which was pure perfection as well. Just look at that plate.

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My pork was incredibly tender and was served with a deliciously fluffy mash and a mustard jus. Just perfect.

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Pete had cod, again cooked to perfection, with asparagus and a delicious chorizo sauce. It’s classic food, but still with a few twists.

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I was quite full after my pork but would not turn down pudding in a place like this and so ordered the rhubarb soufflé with rhubarb ripple ice cream. It’s was amazingly good. Strong but subtle flavours and the softest soufflé!

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Helen’s warm chocolate mousse with with salted caramel and milk sorbet was equally dreamy and although familiar flavours, the fun texture is a great addition.

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The whole lunch was really relaxed and cosy, with two well-behaved children, and such a treat! Afterwards we went out into the sunshine and down the beach to look for sea shells and fossils. Such a wonderful day – and lunch!

The Sportsman, Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent CT5 4BP

Goodwood Revival 2015

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The reason my parents came to visit in September, was of course to spend time with their beloved daughter (me) but also to go to Goodwood Revival, as my dad is a real car and motorcycle buff. The festival is an annual event spanning a whole weekend and on the racecourse cars and motorbikes from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s are competing. And it’s quite a sight as most people dress up in outfits from the same decades, matching the vehicles.

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The area around the racecourse is almost like a little town with a pub, a time-appropriate Tesco etc.

IMG_9198We were only here for a day but we had a great time, watching races, having lunch, eating ice cream and just wandering around taking it all in.

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The pub was, of course very popular!

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There were several races on during the day, mainly sport cars (and some less sporty) but also one race with motorbikes from the 1950s and 1960s. It was fun to watch but felt very slow compared to modern day Moto GP.

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Who would have thought racing was so much fun!? I certainly hadn’t but it was a good father-daughter bonding day and lots of fun!

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I loved the fact that Goodwood was so accessible, you could walk underneath the racecourse to the other side where all the cars were parked, have a look at them, chat to the mechanics etc. Good fun! 

Goodwood, Chichester, West Sussex PO18 0PS

Lunch at The Hand & Flowers, Marlow

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Chefs are like rock stars these days with more exposure ever than before. I quite like that, and I think the chefs do too. The chefs I know personally always wanted praise for their creations and stood up tall and proud when customers wanted to thank the chef personally.

One of Britains rock star chefs is definitely Tom Kerridge, owner of the only pub with not one but two Michelin stars. Quite the accomplishment.

In May my friend Laura and I had a fabulous Sunday lunch at The Hand & Flowers in Marlow and the food was just as amazing as we had hoped. Luckily, since we made the reservation a whole year earlier. Yep, that’s how popular this place is. Get in there early if you want to book a specific date.

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The pub was a lot smaller than I had pictured in my head, but just as cosy. The service was friendly and relaxed and our waitress helped us decide what to order, since we had some trouble narrowing it down (I wanted to eat everything!).

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Laura literally studying the menu. 

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We started our meal with the bread basket and fried whitebait that appeared as soon as we had ordered. I love the newspaper cone for the fish!

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Laura then had this fabulous glazed omelet with smoked haddock and parmesan and it was probably even more delicious than it looks. Light and fluffy yet full or flavour.

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After careful consideration I chose the onion tarte with pork and smoked butter. Wow! It was absolutely fantastic. Flaky, subtle, not too rich and lots of flavour.

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I then carried on with the nicest pork tenderloin I’ve ever eaten (so tender and juicy!), pork cheeks and garlic sausage, little potato balls and small onions. Utterly delicious!

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Laura had the beer roasted chicken with caramelised cauliflower, garlic purée and mushroom crunch. She was as amazed with her main course as I was with mine. We probably sat in silence for a minute, all I can remember is the what I tasted in my mouth.

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The food is, as you would expect from a pub, hearty and filling. But sadly we didn’t have room for pudding. I prefer savoury over sweet, and so does Laura, so we were very content leaving the restaurant and walking very slooowly to the train station.

It was such a great meal – I can’t wait to go back.

The Hand & Flowers, 126 West Street, Marlow, Buckinghamshire SL7 2BP

 

A lovely weekend (with BBQ) in the country

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The weekend before last a friend invited a group of us down to a very nice house in the country. Luckily the weather was good so we could enjoy the pool and play football on the lawn as well as drink wine and eat a lot. What more could one ask for?!

It was one of those wonderful weekends that fill you up with energy, although I have to admit I was a little tired when I got back to London because I took care of the cooking. It was good fun though and I don’t think there was any risk of anyone going hungry.

As we were lounging outside most of the day I thought it best with nibbles instead of a proper started and served three different ones; salmon rolls with horseradish, puff pastry straws with blue cheese, walnuts and honey and my take on bruschetta.

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Then it was time for the big event – the BBQ. I had prepped drumsticks and pork fillet and we also grilled sausages and beef burgers. There were of course a lot of different salads and condiments; potato salad, bean salad with feta, slaw, salad with avocado and spring onions, couscous salad and ketchup, mayo, pickled, mustard, cheese, sliced onions and tomatoes.

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After a proper break we finished the meal with Swedish mud cake, vanilla icecream, butterscotch sauce and berries.

Everybody seem to enjoy themselves and the food and it was good fun prepping it all too! Recipes will follow in separate posts.