On to Bath then! Everyone gets excited when we go to Bath as the place is stunning and quite different to anywhere else we go to on tour. The distraction to go out and eat, shop and marvel at the beautiful architecture in the narrow cobbled streets is far too difficult to resist and we find ourselves sipping coffee in the many quaint cafes instead of getting an early shift in on the wagon. But hey, we bloody well deserved it after Minchinhampton! Marco's signed apron still hangs in the restaurant to remind us of the insanity of the previous week.
So the menu: simple, filling and hot as the weather has dropped somewhat in the past week. Something like what I had when I was in France in winter in a restaurant (well a house) where you don't get a choice of what you eat, 3 courses cooked by some old madame with a caraffe of red for 10 euros but a simple meal that will stick in your memory as it has mine for a decade - a cassoulet. We are using Larkhalls Butchers this week as we did last year (very impressive) so we are using their sausages, pork belly, chicken thighs and drumsticks served in a sauce cooked with pigs trotters, red wine, port, tomatoes and a variety of pulses. Possibly one of my favourites on tour this year...
For the starter a simple mushroom gratin with sliced boiled potato, soft boiled hens eggs (from the farm shop) and the local cheddar (filling I know but it was cold). And also with that we have the colcannon with (as we are here) Bath chaps and a mustardy sauce gabriche.
Dessert was homely as well, an apple and bramble cobbler (the apples and blackberries picked at Folly Farm by Emma) with custard we make a la minute and serve piping hot at the table by Adam and Rosie.
Bath was a dream this year, fully booked every night which is the most we can ask for. What was also encouraging was to have people who had come last year returning this year and being able to have some wonderfull conversations with amazing people and some really good feedback. Thank you Bath!
Ah the 6.30 alarm means Marlborough, it also means it's the week we have our staff party in Pino's restaurant which we are all very excited about. And Marlborough is also Andrew's quality meats where the butchery is brilliantly precise...all the butchers there have the plastic utility belts around their waists for their knives! Plus a very good market on a Wednesday.
So before the imminently destructive evening at Pinos I phoned my friends at New Wave as I have not had fish or seafood on the menu for a while. 'Clams, mussels, cockles are good' says Steve. Done. Clam broth with samphire and sea purslane with some homemade crusty bread and butter. For mains some braised brisket, potato rosti gremolata, curly cale and fresh beetroot and horseradish cream.
I haven't used chocolate at all this year so a bocca negra was in order. This is a flourless rich chocolate pudding or cake made with a lot of whisky, thick cream and we whacked a few kilner jars of poached plums on the table for good measure.
Another fully booked ground. Until next year Marlborough and Hello Ciren, the home straight and my home town... Very excited!