Coffee & Cake@Woodruff’s, Stroud

After wandering around the farmers’ market in Stroud and buying loads of interesting goodies for the next few days… it’s time for coffee and cake. Woodruff’s is a favourite stop for us when we are in Stroud. It is an organic cafe that was established almost 20 years ago and it now has a reputation for great food and friendly service.

The atmosphere in the cafe is buzzing and convivial. Rock has an americano and I have a cappucino – as always the coffee is excellent. There are always a range of freshly made cakes to choose from and, as ever, I want to be adventurous. Beetroot & salted caramel cake – that should do it. It is very moist, the beetroot and salted caramel icing is fascinating in colour and tastes good too. 

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As usual, this has been a great place to chill before heading back out for more food shopping!

Lunch@Abbey Home Farm (2)

When you are meeting eco-warriors for lunch… you have to pick the right venue. We have chosen the organic farm shop & cafe at Abbey Home Farm and arrive unusually early.  We can use the time to wander round the shop & replenish our stocks. Cali & Bug arrive fashionably late but, as I’ve now started drinking and enjoying a Tom Long amber bitter craft ale from the Stroud Brewery, I don’t care.

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Salads with home-made hummus

The menu at the organic cafe is entirely vegetarian during the week – they only serve meat on a Sunday. Rock picks her favourite dish – a small mixed salad (it is still huge by normal standards) served with home-made hummus. Cali fancies the french onion tart served with the full selection of salads. Bug and I both go for the Tamale pie with salads. The Tamale Pie is made up of vegetables covered in a Mexican spiced tomato sauce and cheese.

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French onion tart with salads

We haven’t seen Cali & Bug for nearly a year and it is great to catch up with them. I’m excited to talk about my time at the Green Man festival but my stories pale next to Bug’s – he had a truly mind-blowing experience at Burning Man last summer in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Rock & I do environmentalism in an amateur way – we make our own compost & leaf mould and use ecologically friendly materials in our home like bamboo & cork. Cali & Bug are on a different ecological plane to us – their latest moves include installing four sets of solar panels and placing an order for an electric car!

They don’t really do dessert here but they really do cake. Cali has a chocolate brownie with her coffee, Bug has an enormous slice of carrot cake – but leaves no food waste. Rock and I share a piece of ginger, date & treacle cake, which is rich, moist and indulgent.

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Carrot cake

Great food, great beer, great company – this is an experience that I would like to recycle over and over again!

Lunch@Made by Bob, Cirencester

An old favourite of ours, Made By Bob in Cirencester, has recently re-opened after refurbishment – so today is a good time to see how the place looks and to have some lunch. The most obvious change is that the deli section has moved to a separate building thereby creating more room for diners.

I order a bottle of the very local Corinium Gold from Corinium Ales. It is a bright golden ale packed with flavour – an excellent start to lunch. Rock chooses the salt cod & Gruyere beignets with parsley and an arrabiata dipping sauce. The beignets are beautiful and they work fantastically well with the arrabiata – made from garlic, tomatoes, chilli & olive oil.

I have been drawn to an unusual belly pork dish. The belly pork is grilled, served warm with a salad of french beans, cornichons, capers, grated egg and a mustard dressing. It is extraordinary and very different from the way that belly pork is traditionally served. The piquancy of the capers and the mustard dressing elevate the flavours of the whole dish.

We are so impressed by the quality so far that we consider dessert. Rock decides to save herself for afternoon tea but I am unable to leave without trying the bread & butter pudding with fresh cream. The first spoonful confirms that I have made an excellent choice. Pain au chocolat has been used as the base and the whole pudding dissolves in the mouth releasing a burst of sweet, almost certainly sinful, flavours. Wow!

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I think that the process of refurbishment has somehow strayed onto the menu in a really positive way… no wonder they need more room for diners.

Lunch@Wild Garlic, Nailsworth

Wild Garlic has been on our long list of restaurants to visit for a while now and today we are finally arriving there for lunch. It is one of two restaurants in Nailsworth under chef patron Matthew Beardsall – who has a history of working with two of our food heroes Simon Rogan & Marcus Wareing.

I’m glad to find that they have a decent range of bottled beers and I choose the Muddy Wellies Golden Ale – originally launched by the Royal Agricultural University, it is bright, zesty and full of flavour.

Rock is having the whole grilled Brixham plaice with tomatoes and capers. After some internal debate and a discussion with Faye, who is looking after us, I choose the Old Spot pork, duck & Toulouse sausage cassoulet with white beans, tomato and pieces of garlic bread. The plaice is very good indeed and my cassoulet is an ideal dish for a cold winter day.

We don’t need dessert but I can rarely resist an affogato when one is available and today I don’t bother trying to resist. Here it is served with raisins soaked in Pedro Ximenez and warm, slighty moist biscotti – fabulous.

Overall, really good quality food and great service from Faye. Now we both understand why we had put Wild Garlic on the list in the first place!

2016 Food Awards – part 3

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2016

Awards part 1 focused on our top restaurants, part 2 focused on our favourite pubs and now part 3 focuses on four small independent food providers that gave us something special during 2016.

Eastward House, Orkney – best breakfast

You choose in advance from a range of three course gourmet breakfasts with each course designed to deliver either vitamins, fibre or protein. It is a breakfast experience like no other! East review

Jolly Nice, Frampton Mansell – best burger & beer

To create the fabulous Jolly Nice burger they use rare breed shorthorn beef and other high quality local produce. It can be enjoyed with any one of a range of bottled craft ales. Jolly review

Toast House, Ilkley – best coffee & cake

Great place to relax with fabulous coffee. But it is the cake that puts Toast House at the top of the pile! Every cake has been home-made with skill and love. Toast review

Severn & Wye Smokery, Chaxhill – best fish

Suppliers to some of the finest chefs and foodstores in the UK. Their small restaurant has a menu of fresh fish, smoked fish and shellfish which they cook beautifully. A must for fish lovers! Severn review – Jan 16 Severn review – Jul 16

Here’s hoping that 2017 gives us as much food joy as 2016!

Lunch@Jolly Nice, Frampton Mansell

If you spend any time reading this blog then you will know that we are not regular fans of the burger. But, we have heard that Jolly Nice in Frampton Mansell does a burger that is well worth the trip.

Jolly Nice is a farm shop that stocks local farm produce plus Harriet’s very special Jolly Nice ice cream. The cafe serves to takeaway customers but, if you want to stay and have coffee or a burger, there is an enormous vaulted yurt with tables, chairs and heating.

I have chosen the Jolly Nice burger – rare breed shorthorn beef, Somerset cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, rapeseed mayo, spiced ketchup, caramelised onions, tomato and salad leaves all sandwiched between a soft brioche bun from the Bertinet Bakery. It is one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. I’m also trying a craft lager – an Organic Helles from the Freedom Brewery. It works beautifully with the burger!

Rock is having the Kentucky fried pheasant burger with spiced mayo, coleslaw, tomato and baby gem lettuce. The pheasant pieces are crispy and the whole thing is beautifully seasoned and spiced. Wow!

Jolly Nice is even better than it’s name suggests….

Lunch@Jack Hare’s Bar, Westonbirt

These days I don’t have too many business meetings over lunch but, today, I’m with Kimberley, Jane, Hugo and Akela at The Hare & Hounds Hotel in Westonbirt. The Hare & Hounds is part of the Cotswold Inns Hotel Group and is located just a few hundred yards from The National Arboretum.

The food is from Jack Hare’s Bar, the country pub part of the hotel which is next door.  While most of our group are having a BLT sandwich or something similar, Kimberley is trying the broccoli soup and I’m going to sample the lamb shank with parsnip & apple mash and a rosemary & garlic jus. The lamb shank falls off the bone and the mash and jus (gravy) all work together beautifully. Meanwhile, Kimberley is thoroughly enjoying her soup.

Although our business meeting is pretty much over….it would be rude not to sample the desserts. I have the New York style cheesecake with forest fruit sorbet, Akela has the lemongrass crème brûlée with citrus ginger biscuit and Kimberley and Jane have the white chocolate brioche bread & butter pudding with crème Anglaise and rum & raisin ice cream. After only a few minutes, all these desserts have disappeared without trace.

The Hare & Hounds is a fabulous place to meet and Jack Hare’s Bar provides some fine food and drink. With Westonbirt Arboretum and other Cotswold attractions nearby – this would also be a great base for a holiday.