Words

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two Days' Worth of Food

I wanted to make a little mention of today's eats, and then I thought about yesterday's eats, which were a bit interesting, as yesterday was a bit of an odd day. I slept in as it was my day off and so I didn't sally forth until about 11, ostensibly in search of haircutting establishments, which I have talked about in the other blog, so I will not bore you with details here. Suffice to say that after I had a haircut, I was a little peckish, and was going to look for a place to eat, but first I had to stop in a little shop that sells handmade chocolates, called, appropriately enough, Chocolate. Or so it would appear. All the signage outside says is the word Chocolate.  However, once inside, all the chocolates on display say "Truffles@Coco". Indeed, a quick look on Google maps confirms that Truffles At Coco is indeed the name of the place. But no matter.


Inside is a veritable chocolate wonderland. On the entire right side of the small shop are shelves groaning with handmade chocolates guaranteed to make your mouth water. There are chocolate bars of varying sizes and flavours, bags of handmade chocolate chips, chocolate mice, lollipops, and the like. You've heard of chocolate covered espresso beans? Fuhgeddaboutit. How about giant chocolate bars covered with a layer of dark roasted coffee beans? And then at the counter is a display case full with truffles with just about any flavour you could possibly want or need. On the left side of the shop are shelves with some seriously good vintage wines, cognacs, Jeroboams of good champers, and on the wall, a rack of high quality ports that made my head spin, including a bottle of Dow's 1971 for about £125, and a Warre's Tercentenary 1970 for £150. Darn fine chocolate and durn good wines and ports in one little shop. What more could one require? I purchased three Dark chocolate Cointreau truffles and three white chocolate champagne truffles and two chocolate mice. Mmmmm.


I was rooting around for a place to eat and after investigating several possibilities (Peggoty's, Ozgur, Zest, Seasons, The Whistlestop Cafe, Prezzo etc.) finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't make a decision. After bumping into my co-worker Gavin the sous chef and chatting with him, I wandered into Cook, a shop that sells gourmet handmade food frozen for the hurried and harried and found it to be quite busy in there. They were dishing out samples of both Coronation Chicken and Eton Mess. I plumped for the latter and sampled away to my heart's content.


Okay, okay. I realise there are probably some of you who are not sure what Eton Mess is. To clarify:


Eton mess (sometimes called Eaton mess) is a dessert of English origin which consists of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream. It's traditionally served at Eton College's annual cricket game against the students of Winchester College. It's been known by this name since the 19th century. An Eton mess can be made with many other types of summer fruit but strawberries are regarded as more traditional.
A similar dessert is the Lancing mess, served throughout the year at Lancing College in West Sussex, England.
The word mess may refer to the appearance of the dish, or may be used in the sense of "a quantity of food", particularly "a prepared dish of soft food" or "a mixture of ingredients cooked or eaten together". But I digress.


I stopped in to the very wonderful Anderson & Campbell again for one of their fabulous lattes, and sampled the delights of some lime pickle which was on the counter with some mini poppadoms... wow! The lime pickle was really tasty, but as those of you who have sampled a proper lime pickle will confirm, it blows your bloody head off for a couple of seconds! I then sampled the papaya chutney which was sweet and delicate and really nice.


Anyhow... I ended up at good ol' Waitrose and proceeded to dig around for bargains. Stopping off in the produce section first, I found that small containers of cherry tomatoes were reduced to clear, as were packages of fresh basil. Grabbing one of each, I then headed over to the cheese section and found some fresh buffalo mozzarella from Laverstoke Park Farm at the reasonable price of £1.99. I purchased my bargains, and headed home in the knowledge that I was going to have to make my own dinner because Mum and Chris were headed out to an appointment. I had an idea to make a salad with the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil with some black olives and olive oil and balsamic drizzle - that would have been good, but I still had a little bit of  fresh pasta left from the other night and so i cooked that up. In a wide saucepan I drizzled olive oil, added fresh garlic, all the tomatoes, whole, and let that sizzle for a while. Then when the pasta was nearly done I added chopped basil and some chopped coriander to my tomatoes and garlic, drained the pasta, put it in the bowl, slung the whole mess of tomatoes etc. on  top of the pasta and added the mozzarella in big chunks, which then slowly melted onto the rest. It was lovely and fresh and with the addition of coriander, very lively and slightly unusual.


After that I went for a pint with my old buddy Andy. We reminisced in The White Lion in Tenterden over a pint of Marston's Dragon's Tale, a fine brew if I may say. After that we repaired to an old haunt, The Three Chimneys in Biddenden. The place has hardly changed since the days of my youth and it is one of the few places that still serves beer straight from the keg as opposed to a hand or electric pump. Unfortunately the beer I chose, a pint of Adnam's Stout, could have benefited from being chilled, because as it was at room temp it was just sort of warm and sticky and it impaired the flavour somewhat.


Today we went with my Grandad Eric to Tenterden Garden Centre. This is located at the bottom of Reading Street Hill on the way to Appledore. Eric needed a few things for his garden, and we went for a spot of lunch at the Planter's restaurant located inside. Mum had a baked potato and Eric went for the Liver & Bacon casserole which looked and smelled delicious and came with a mass of potatoes and mixed veggies. I had not long had breakfast but that still didn't stop me from eating a Ploughman's Lunch. What is a Ploughman's Lunch, I hear my Colonial cousins cry? It is usually a hunk or two of cheese with a large piece of crusty bread, and some salad-type stuff, and usually a pickled onion and maybe some Branston to go with it. I chose mine to come with a piece of Brie, which was lovely. The salad part was nice and chunky too, just what I look for in a salad. I am not a fan of lettuce overkill. I need crunch! Anyway, mine was great, and Eric and I shared a pot of tea which was just lovely. All in all, a good place to eat with really nice service, let's say... four and a half yums out of five.


Dinner this evening was a lovely doctored-up Tesco pizza... it's not all glamour and high livin', you know.
À votre santé!

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