Let the quest begin!

The purpose of this blog isn't simply to post a list of negative threads. It's more an effort in highlighting the very best places to eat, drink and be merry. All experiences are my own, or with my family. There is no connection between myself or any of the establishments other than as a paying punter. If you take exception to any post, please feel free to offer your own comments. This is meant to be a fair an honest opinion of where we've eaten.

Friday, 11 September 2009


When we were kids growing up, one of the things we enjoyed most was pinching ‘goosegogs’, or should I say gooseberries from the house with the big garden. It was every child’s’ duty under the age of 10 to pinch their share-hech we got chased (and I’m sure that was all part of the fun), but the one thing I remember was being the only one who ever eat the gooseberries! The other boys used them as ammo for catapults, or to throw at girls on the swings. I eat mine- all of them!! sometimes making my tummy ache. So where did all the gooseberries go? You rarely see them in the shops, only occasionally at a good fruit markets. Are they in danger of disappearing? Next year I plan to grow my own, and accept that by doing so, I’m also obliged to allow any would be ‘goosegog’ thief to their fare share. Any one with tips on growing gooseberries please contact me. For now I’m going to open the recipe book to plan next years fruit puddings!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Roast Leg of Lamb with an anchovy, garlic and apricot chilli stuffing, served on a mixed bed of roasted almonds, tomato, black olives, and coucous

One of my own occasional recipes. This roast leg of lamb dish comes with a slight twist. To begin, I removed the top end of the meat from the bone. This was a big leg leaving enough of a joint for the next day’s roast. (Lamb two days running!) I chopped some finely sliced garlic and chilli, placed over the flattened lamb followed by a layer of chopped apricots, with another layer of 6 anchovy fillets. I seasoned with a little pepper (no salt) then tied up with string, covering with a tablespoon of good Greek olive oil from Zanti, which I purchased on holiday from a true artisan supplier. I seasoned again with a little black pepper and popped into the oven in a tagine without the lid.
We like our lamb pink so while it was roasting on a medium heat, I sliced the peppers, tomatoes and garlic onto a roasting dish while preparing the couscous.
After about 30 minutes I checked the lamb, which was nicely sizzling filling the whole kitchen with that unmistakable smell of roasted lamb and garlic. I popped the fruit to be roasted into the oven along with a plate of almonds. I gave the almonds about 5-minutes before removing. The roasted peppers and tomatoes got 15 minutes extra before I removed them with the lamb.
A quick mix with the couscous, not forgetting the black ozone flavour of the olives, some more black pepper that all went into a mixing bowl. I drizzled a little more extra virgin olive oil in with the couscous and served. You’ll notice how I roasted the garlic.
They’re decious when popped from the little casings and mixed with the juice from the pan. The anchovy really brings out the full flavour of the meat and the sweetness of the apricot still comes through with that bite of chilli. There’s enough left for lunchtime tomorrow, so I reckon three to four meals from one huge leg joint.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Hide Cafe Bar & Grill-restaurant in Durham City

We don't normally do the Sunday lunch thing, at least not away from home! Forced to find shelter during a wet, miserable August Sunday afternoon, we headed in to Hide Cafe Bar & Grill, on Saddler Street-Durham. We choose the Sunday lunch and we were awarded in some style. My wife and I both choose the roast beef, which was pink and very tender. The Yorkies were huge, the vegetables crisp and crunchy, all served together on the same plate, non of this daft side-plate-portion thingy going on at Hide!. My two sons both choose the chicken. Hide do a great job in providing decent children's portions and the bill was considerate with just three meals on the tab. How often elsewhere have we asked for children's portions only to be told 'we don't do children's portions- we have a children's menu!', or to find I've paid full whack for half a portion. Hide is great, the service is really good and the food is very, very good. In fact, I don't ever recall having a bad meal in this place. Price for Sunday lunch?...£9.50. Some might find that a touch expensive, but this isn't your normal pub grub, this good food- well cooked.