Friday, 31 January 2014

The Royal Crescent Hotel - A Day to remember

 The day your older sister gets married has to be one of the biggest turning points in a girls life. Not only is your sister now a real grown up, but it means that time is ticking for you, too! As Jennifer is only a couple of years my elder, I have some food for thought going into my 29th year. A joyous day to remember was had in the most historic and glamorous town for rest and relaxation and in true Bath style, everything looked grand. Mr and Mrs Milligan decided that instead of spending a little bit of money on a large group of family and friends they would prefer to spoil the most important people in their lives and a close group of 11 of us headed down to meet the couple the night before the big day. Full of excitement for our wedding duties the following morning, the Ellory clan celebrated the last night of Jennifer's single status; gathered together in a fab apartment where we ate a huge Thai takeaway.

Mr and Mrs Milligan, Guildhall Wedding, Bath
After the ceremony, we were whisked off to the beautiful Royal Crescent,where we experienced an eight course taster menu reception at The Royal Crescent Hotel.

Bridesmaids, Guildhall, Bath

So this is the part where we were spoilt rotten. Not only was the food from the Dower House Restaurant imaginative and delicate in presentation, it was simply delicious and an amazing experience all at once. We were seated in the private Library room which of course offered us a different atmosphere and boasted a finely decorated fireplace and Georgian theme. Each course was discussed between the bride and groom and the Head Chef David Campbell who came through towards the end of the dinner and passed on his thanks for our compliments.

The courses were detailed on a special menu and announced with explanation on service. The combinations on offer were fresh and modern and made with local ingredients.

Apple, Parsnip, Smoked Eel, Coriander
Foie Gras, Pear, Gingerbread, Red Wine

Mackerel, Cucumber, Horseradish, Cavier

Menu and wedding favours

Lamb, Wet Polenta, Alliums, Sheeps Milk Gel

Not Bakewell Tart

Chocolate, Popcorn, Toffee
We were then served a mighty cheese board offering, which included a selection of local cheeses and quince jelly. Pausing for a breather between crackers, we also watched the cutting of the cake which was then bagged into sweet shop stripy bags for later!

Beautiful two tier fruit cake hand decorated by the Groom's Mum

Coffee and Petit Fours: Poppy and Lemon cake, Pistachio Macaroons

The Georgian Library Room, Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath
The most stand out course for me was the lamb which included braised lamb neck so soft and tender and sticky with rich gravy. It was even better served with lamb bon bon and fillet. The Not Bakewell Tart was an interesting twist on the usual stodgy cake with fresh fruity flavours.

I was overwhelmed with the day and will remember the dining experience for a long time to come. In particular, the service was impeccable and the intentions of the Bride and Groom to spoil and surprise were exemplified in their choice of reception.

A massive thank you to the Milligans and many congratulations to you both!!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

A Hand Crafted Salt Box is what I want for my Birthday Daddy!

Hand made salt box

I just wanted to show off my newest kitchen accessory! I saw some very expensive ones for sale and really liked the design for those moments when you need to add a pinch of salt. I like the authentic design as the hole in the top was where a rudimentary wall peg would have hung the box on a wall. I am keeping mine on the work top but it's nice to know I could use a peg if I wanted to!

I asked my dad if he could make me one for my birthday seen as I had every faith he would be up to the challenge ad I don't think I have ever been more pleased with something in my whole life. I am so proud of my dad and his skills in woodwork.

I am sure he could make a pretty penny making these, but this one is just for me!

Hand made kitchen salt box

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Monmouth, Borough Market, Bermondsey, London

Tom and I recently took a trip down to London for a much needed break. We stayed over near London Bridge in a lovely foodie haven called Bermondsey Street. On the top of our list on waking Thursday morning, was a visit to Monmouth Coffee Company on a corner between the amazing old and new Borough market.

A queue outside Monmouth for the perfect filter coffee

Morning rush at Monmouth, Borough Market

Monmouth has been in existence since 1978 and these guys appear to have quality at heart. Originating in Covent Garden as a shop and roasters, the shops were more recently extended to Borough Market, while the coffee is now roasted on nearby Maltby Street, Bermondsey. This new site is under three converted railway arches which act as whole sale market, roasters and training center. With a variety of suppliers, each discovered through extensive travel, the products are sustainable, fair and delicious - the best!

Perfect quality coffee, Monmouth

Coffee is imported from Central and South America, Africa and Asia and each is lovingly described in full detail with changes in single crop supply due to seasonality and flavour. For example - the Monmouth espresso flavour is described as ''Toasted almond with smooth body and balanced fruity acid".
I sampled the coffee of the day, detailed on a chalk board to include origin, name and qualities,

Finca La Pila
Caramelised citrus with medium acidity and body.

Pastries at Monmouth, Bermondsey

 More important perhaps to this journey was the breakfast offering which accompanies the intoxicating smell of freshly brewed coffee. A significant spread of crusty fresh bread, open pots of tempting jam and marmalade and creamy lashings of butter - at a friendly open table, shared by all who wish to tuck in for a bargain three pounds. A stream of newspapers, books and busying notepads are strewn over the table as customers chat and break bread in couples or small groups and in the natural city dweller manner, they are able to sit very cosily together without so much as a wink to their neighbour. Sat amongst the busy bustle and with a view of the queue around the corner, there are as many staff behind the counter as there are customers. Frantically grinding and filtering their wares. A large board on the wall gives a two minute lesson in the perfect brew and a variety of small coffee related gifts sit on the wooden shelves. For the more delicate morning nibble, a selection of fresh pastries, brioches and buns can be picked up and taken out to a convenient bench just outside the door, where a few folk who looked like it wasn't their first time here, had parked themselves for a quick rest before starting a busy day in the capital.

2 min lesson in the perfect filter technique

The place has a sense of urgency, essential in order to meet the needs of the caffeine addicts which frequent this place. But no doubt this is a perfect gem and the kind of place you hear about before you are enticed by the smell of the coffee for yourself.

Monmouth, Coffee Company, Bermondsey.