Not so Punchy

I met up with one of my lovely bubbly sisters, Beth,  while I was in London recently and checked out one pub (not sister) that was available on a discount card.  Punch Tavern in Fleet Street rang a bell so that is where we aimed for.  It looked like a wonderfully ornate old London pub on the outside and there was a table by the front door with a variety of gin bottles on it.  They must have had word that I was coming their way.  Beth and I were given a choice of tables and got a large one by the fire where I didn’t have to worry about too many items on the table.  We are quite animated talkers and sometimes table items suffer the consequences.

The server was delightful, not too intrusive, and offered us tap water immediately.  Big points.  There was a fair range of food on the menu, not huge but enough.  Pies seemed to be their thing, indeed there was mention of an award winning pie.  There were also nearly FIFTY varieties of gin, who knew, it almost seemed like a challenge but I was getting the train and may have ended up in Brighton by mistake (not for the first time sadly) so I just ordered the one and Beth had a glass of Pinot Noir.

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She ordered Quinoa, halloumi, roast pepper salad £6.5.  This was Beths starter and it was interesting.  I have never been a huge fan of halloumi, it can be rubbery and is like the tofu of the cheese world in that it seems to pick up the flavours of the food it is snuggied up with.  The quinoa was lovely with chopped tomato and onion and a very fresh taste.

Wild Mushrooms on toast £ 6.5.  This was my choice for starter but I wasnt thrilled.  The sauce was very salty and had made the toast soggy.  However it was rescued by some of Beths refreshing quinoa salad which saved the dish.

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Smoked haddock, king prawn, salmon, squid, mussels and mushroom sauce £12.5.  This could have been amazing but the sauce was cold and the pastry a little heavy.  Overall Beth seemed to enjoy it.
I had the Gammon steak, free range eggs, hand cut chips £9.5.  Again a bit of a shame, the gammon was cut quite thin and very overcooked and I really couldnt eat it.  The chips were good, thin and crispy and home made.  The eggs had a lot of seasoning, salt and pepper piles, on them which didnt help overall.  I would have preferred much less salt on both dishes with the option to add my own and I do like salt, this was just too much.
Would I go back, no not really although we may have just hit a bad day, it wasnt at all busy and the service was good.

2015-03-02 14.28.08                        This is Beth, my younger sister ( we are two of six siblings ) and it was a pleasure to spend time with her.  She is a town mouse and I am a country mouse, there are no shops within walking distance of my house in Padworth and we get excited when we hear a police car.

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This is Beth leaving the pub.  She doesn’t actually have a bike but had a very traumatic incident with a pack of squirrels when she was very young.  The effect of this is that she has to wear a helmet at all times and turn her coat into a squirrel defending tent over her head.  It is sad but she is considering getting professional help for it.  She even makes a funny squirrel face at times of stress.  Poor lass but very very brave.

Apple Tree, Daughter Mother

Love love love the fact that Rachel Lawrence is setting up her food blog.  Also loving the phone calls that start with menu items; love also that they come from my step children as much as my children.  Have heard of an amazing place in Bristol, The Gallimaufry, that sounds like it definitely needs a visit and an interview for my radio slot.  Double plus is that Rachel tries out the food because as you know I dont review rubbish, my taste buds need reviving not dulling.

Coming up an interview and review of Brebis and and interview and review of the handsome Kiren of the Bladebone.

Berkshire Chefs I need you for radio interview and blog

Having woefully mistimed my reserve of interviews I am now in need of some 20 minute interviews with a review for my blog as well if that works for you.  I can do you again (ooh err) if I have already done you but I am looking for changes of menu, major staff, change of ethos etc.  To those who have contacted me can you come back with some suitable times please, I am mostly in your hands for time etc.

Love to you all my wondrous food makers and eaters  and please RT  xx

Bored, 2.30 am, so I must be hungry, right? Midnight Bruschetta

One slice of sourdough, toasted, butter it well then grate a garlic clove over the buttered side.  Then squish an aromatic tomato and spread it onto the toast.  Hmm something missing.  Mmmm, slice a mozzarella over the toast then a beautiful line of fresh basil.  Could go as it is but for me there is meat missing.  Oh yes, back of the fridge chorizo steps up to the plate.  All under the grill until chorizo crisps up a bit.  Guess I could have put the mozzarella over the chorizo.  Maybe that can wait for another exciting middle of the night snack.  Oh and a bit of 90’s balsamic glaze.

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Radio Interviewees needed urgently, can good food providers apply?

Over the time I have been doing my radio interviews and the blog I have made it clear that if the food is not so good I don’t want to share information about it.  What’s the point?  It can be much more entertaining to read about rubbish food and is certainly great fun to write about it but that was not the reason for the radio programme or the blog.  The point was to share great places to eat or buy food wonderful food.  However I have run out of radio interviews and back ups (totally my own disorganised fault) and desperately need some more.  So if you would like to talk to me for twenty minutes about why your food is so wonderful and what sparked your passion please contact me on leilaferguson@yahoo.co.uk as soon as you can!  For those that have offered in the past before I vanished off the face of the planet for several months please get back to me, everything is now up and running.

L’Ortolan – Local Luxury

Oh my this was a wonderful meal to finish up the Christmas period and even better we shared the experience with Sam and Alice, my step son and his better half.  L’Ortolan is based in a beautiful house in Shinfield, absolutely delightful, drinks in the conservatory or bar, a chance to sit at the Chefs Table should you desire, delightful staff, all you could wish for.  My one comment would be that Chef Alan Murchison has now left so I cant tell you what the food is like currently but I cant imagine it wouldn’t be wonderful and if I get another chance to review then I will let you know.

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As always one of my favourite parts of any meal are the canapes and these did not disappoint.  We had the most amazing champagne cocktails to go with them which and this set the tone to our evening of decadent deliciousness

Now the drawback of having a great time, dining with friends and not intending to do an official review is that I have naturally lost all memory of the details.  I have the memory of a very small amoeba with a small memory so that isnt great.  Therefore I cant remember what the delicious amuse bouche was but my brain is making mention of a delicious veloute.

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On the left is confit salmon, pickled mouli, wasabi and kecap.  The salmon had a wonderful texture, smooth, rich and delicious – gosh a little like my taste in men! I loved the mouli and wasabi but the kecap didn’t have as much of an impact as I thought it might, I think it was waiting outside the back door of the dish.

On the right was the duck terrine, poached pear and spiced granola.  Apologies for the poor quality of the photograph but be assured the dish itself was excellent, again the way the duck was cosying up with the pear and granola was spectacular.  L’Ortolan are geniuses (geni??) at flavour matching.  I wish we had ordered the wine pairing now as I am sure it would have been amazing but sadly not enough money right after Christmas!

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Ooh how exciting is the dish on the left.  Devon crab, soft shell tempura, passion fruit, coconut was such an exciting combination, whoever put this together may be taking illicit substances, (all such comments to be taken as a compliment and not a slur!!).

On the right, managing to follow the mind blowing crab dish and then some is the goose liver parfait, pain d’epices, poached rhubarb and sloe gin jelly.  Look at the colours in my badly taken photo, imagine the aroma and then envy your vision of the taste of the different ingredients with the different textures.  What a stunner.

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Yay a big lump of pan fried stone bass with Jerusalem artichoke and smoked pomme purée.  This was a perfect example of how the quality of the ingredients and the expertise in the cooking makes a fantastic result which is better than the sum of the parts.

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How amazing is this – for all you cheese fetishists this is a taste of the cheese that they bring out to see if you fancy a touch of cheese!!  If you like cheese then go to L’Ortolan.  Full stop.

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Sorry not a clue, mate it was late in the evening, I have been in Thailand for a month, what am I, a miracle memory person?  I dont remember it not being marvellous though.

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Right, I have run out of words and memory now.  There was deliciousness, there was crunch and tang and sweet and tasty but I hit my Mr Creosote moment after the cheese and knew that just a ‘wafer thin mint’ would destroy me.  Those around me said it was all delicious and I believe them.

Do go to L’Ortolan and you will love it.  I paid for my own meal.

I need a Pigs Bladder

Does anyone know where I can get a pigs bladder from?  I want to make Coffre de Volaille de Bresse en Vessie and a roasting bag just wont do the job.  All advice welcomed, should I ever find one then photos will follow.

I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front because my car broke down leaving me on the M4 for an awfully long time and meaning I missed my review and interview of John Campbell at The Woodspeen.  However it looks like I will be re-wheeled this week so hopefully can reschedule the interview (and the eating mwahahaha).    I have two birthday meals to cash in, one at The Brebis and one at The Vineyard whoop whoop so will be blogging those as well.  Am desperate to get to The Brebis while they still have the stuffed pigs trotters on the menu.

I am doing a stock master class at the end of the month and will blog that following my wonderful discovery of the Chinese supermarket that sells bones and beef tendons, scrummy for stock!