|Lunch in Teesdale
||[Aug. 25th, 2015|07:58 pm]
We had a lunch date with friends at the Bridgewater Arms in Winston in Teesdale - not just a pub we'd never eaten at before, but a village we'd never visited, reached by a road we'd never driven along (turn left at the t-junction in Staindrop where we'd turn right to visit our friends at home), late-summer with the sunshine gentle on the straw bales in the fields and lighting the downy heads of the thistles lining the verges. The south is another country, even when it's the south of the same county...
I haven't seen many pubs with 'In Memoriam' over the door - not the door through which we entered, but adjacent. The building was built in the nineteenth century as a school, and has kept that theme in its décor (and why not? We celebrated my 60th birthday in a pub converted from a nineteenth century school, though I don't seem to have written about that) though it now has serious pretensions as a gastropub. And very nearly lives up them: the short version would be 'pricy, food very nice but with some misfires, service so friendly and charming that you don't care'.
The longer version: the menu is quite long, and I was tempted this way and that before I finally made my choice. My starter of mussels in cream sauce would have made a perfectly acceptable main course: they were sweet and tender and heaped high in the soup plate. The roast turbot of my main course was unremarkable, but that's OK, I'd chosen it for the accompanying samphire risotto - which was delicious, but mainly because it contained a generous seasoning of bacon: I enjoyed every mouthful, but though I could see the samphire, I couldn't actually taste it. The little dish of vegetables didn't seem in any way relared to the dish - I certainly didn't need the potatoes!
Perhaps because we were drinking a New Zealand sauvignon blanc that was all light perfume and green fruit, I chose the Gooseberry and Elderflower Trio for my dessert:
and we all admired it, and wondered what the different components might be - well, durham_rambler had to make a second choice of dessert, as the panna cotta hadn't set, so there were no distractions. It is effectively three variations on gooseberry fool: a little heap of soft cream topped with fruit all sitting on a toasty, nutty meringue base; a tiny spoonfull of fruit fool floating on a glass of elderflower jelly (this would have been fine without the fool); and a heavier fool of almost clotted cream. Two months ago it would have been seasonal, spot-on with the promise of early summer; in late August it was still delicious.
It wasn't all about the food (and drink), but the conversation was mostly about family and friends and plans, so I won't record that. Also about books, and websites, and the Labour party - and this clip, which explains why Corbyn is ahead in the leadership poll.