Sunday, 30 September 2012

Avebury, Wiltshire

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I've been meaning to go to Avebury for years and finally did! What an amazing place, I'd like to go back soon.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

At The Chapel and two weeks of solitude in Somerset

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    I will admit, I didn't quite know what I was letting myself in for when I agreed to housesit for friends in Bruton, Somerset. I thought two weeks to collect my thoughts and be by myself was exactly what I needed after the whirlwind that my summer has been. Two cats and a manic jack russell were thrown into the equation and peace began something unachievable. Having said that, I became very grateful that they were there with me, getting me up in the morning and driving me crazy while simultaneously keeping me sane and giving me something to take care of and talk to. The chaos they created proved a good substitute for the chaos that usually reigns over my life. The cats ate my cake, the dog ate the cat food and the cats at the dog food. Food was the one thing that triumphed. I made two fantastic lemon drizzle cakes from THIS Raymond Black recipe (minus the apricot jam), bought tasty local cheese from the excellent Spar where I worked for the fortnight and made vast quantities of spaghetti puttanesca.

    Shiniest of all the culinary stars of Bruton, though, was At The Chapel, a fantastic café, winery, restaurant, bakery, and pizzeria on the High Street which I kept well away from until my last day as I knew that once I set foot in there I would inevitably spend all my money. True to form, I gave in one afternoon and bought at almond croissant from the little bakery with lovely displays of loaves and pastries in the same room as their floor to ceiling pizza oven. The cats ate half of it but it was damned tasty. I took my mum for breakfast there the next day. We had field mushrooms and scrambled eggs on sourdough toast and a super smooth latté. I then went back that night with Nonie.
    I ordered a bloody mary, Nonie a gin and tonic and we shared homemade ewes cheese with roasted beetroot and toasted sunflower seeds on sourdough to start which was rich and satisfying yet fresh and zesty. For mains Nonie had the burger, which came with absolutely excellent chips, the best I've had in a long time, and I had a pizza from the wood-fired oven topped with Taleggio, field mushrooms and thyme. All of the food we ordered was uncomplicated but hit the spot in every way, the addition of the thyme on my pizza and the herbs in Nonie's beef burger stretching the other ingredients to their full flavoursome potential. Lots of the ingredients are locally sourced, including the beef, the cheese and the milk in our coffee which I saw on the menu was from the farm that I'd walked the dog past two days previously.
    The building is beautiful, the high ceilings and windows of the chapel making for a relaxed and light atmosphere and a space in which to display interesting pieces of artwork. What a gem Bruton has been bestowed with, Matthew Norman writing in the Guardian 'a provincial restaurant taking pride in every aspect of its work, unshowily passionate about pleasuring the punters and avoiding any hint of pretension' was the closest that he had come to a religious experience in a 'house of the Lord'.

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Saturday, 22 September 2012

I.J. Mellis' Cheese shop, Edinburgh

I sniffed this beauty out on my first day. What can I say, I was drawn to it. I have a cheese radar. Cheese is without doubt my favourite food and I stepped into this shop and almost passed out with joy. I.J. Mellis' lovely cheeses are from all over Europe, labelled in detail and beautifully displayed. Most of it was as expensive as you'd expect it to be but affordable to sample in small nuggets of heaven. Time Out website labelled it a Critics' Choice and noted their tasty breads, too. The only thing I would say is I can't believe how bored the staff seemed. If I worked in there I would be enthusing about all my wonderful cheeses every time anyone came in to look. Cheese is exciting, guys...

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Friday, 21 September 2012

Mysterious man in Edinburgh

I saw this strange man hiding in a car park in Edinburgh. He's one of Our Nation's Sons, part of a project by artist Joe Caslin designed to question the current representations of young men in today’s society and the way that the media openly ridicules and demonises this generational group. It was early (as early as one gets up during the Edinburgh fringe) and still a bit misty walking through the backstreets of the city and this young man suddenly loomed out of the landscape at me. Striking and sort of serene, somehow.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Milk, Edinburgh

Edinburgh has fast become one of my favourite cities, small and characterful. i went with friends for a few days during the fringe and the place was buzzing, something happening wherever we went. Milk, a little cafe on Morrison Street, away from the bustle of the Royal Mile, proved to be a gem discovered at just the right time ask our stomachs began to cry for breakfast.

The cafe is light yet cosy, the wooden furniture contrasting the clean, bright tiles and the shiny coffee machine. Cake stands brimming with sumptuous cupcakes and slabs of tasty looking loaf cakes sit on the counter and there is a fridge with fat sandwiches for under £4 generously filled with interesting ingredients like Chorizo & Manchego, Compté & Pastrami. That is probably the thing that stood out the most about this place; their clear enthusiasm for simple food well executed and full of flavour, liberally seasoned with spices fresh herbs, all for a reasonable price and available to take away.
I had the Chicken Chiang Mai Noodles, very tasty indeed, and loved the enamel tableware. Unfortunately we arrived too late for the breakfast menu which ended at 11.00, however judging by the food that we ordered and the menu on the website, this would be the place for a tasty tasty breakfast.
I originally stumbled across this café on this this Guardian list for 10 of the best hangover cafés in Edinburgh.