Wednesday: “You have to be ready at 3:30pm on Sunday.”
Sunday came and as we drove further and further in to the countryside, the sky was so blue and the day so crisp that I just couldn’t help but smile.
Who gets surprises any more? It’s a lost thing of the past; an old-fashioned gesture that has gone amiss somewhere over the years but somehow, I seemed to have found someone who humours my passion for all things wonderfully ‘retro’.
He’s been mentioning how much he wants to take me to this particular place for a while. He delivers wine there and says it’s “me”, everything about it is just “me”.
Pulling up and finding myself at the side of a sparkling river shadowed by trees and a sky that was settling in to its sunset, I sighed with a breathless wonder – he really does know me.
What happened next is simply inexplicable.
It was a journey of delicate tastes, sights and surrounding; an Alice in Wonderland treat that I’m sure was made and tailored for me only.
The place was brimming with ornaments – rabbits, clocks, butterflies on all the walls – and so mismatched that it came together in perfect harmony.
As we were led down a passage way lined with paintings and with uneven exposed wall, our place for the evening was to be where we began: Right on the river front.
As each delight came, the space between us was only filled with sounds of happy people, but of course, we’re always happy when confronted with an endless supply of delicious wonders.
It just goes to show doesn’t it?
A little surprise is a rare thing in life and a little love can go a long way.
The small gestures mean the most and never overlook someone that takes the time to figure out who you are and accept it – but more so never overlook someone that takes you out for amazing food…
Happy Valentines day! x
Where: The Cartford Inn
I had: French onion soup that was so softly entwined with those rich, oniony undertones that it could quite possibly be the best onion soup I’ve had. It had just the right amount of onions and an exquisite amount of cheese bubbling away proudly on top.
It was then on to a confit corn-fed chicken leg on a bed of puy lentils, creamed leeks, pancetta and a tarragon rosti.
I cannot say anything else other than what a wondrous merge of flavours. Do you remember in Julie and Julia when she tried the fish in butter for the first time and was utterly speechless? And all Paul said was, “I know, I know”?
Well that’s what happened.
Everything went together so perfectly that I can only urge you to go and see for yourself.
Then came the tears of happiness.
I chose the bowl of cereal for dessert because there was a moment on The Great British Menu last year where one certain chef created a beautiful dish based on Mission Milk, and I’ve never quite forgotton it.
A Bowl of Cereal was a awe-inspiring creation of ovaltine milk, granola and cornflake ice-cream that when eaten together, instantly filled me with this homely warmth.
The smell of the ovaltine just took me straight back to Grandma’s house, on cold evenings where we’d drink a mug of it before bed.
And I guess that’s what food always comes back to: Memories, feelings and home.
Or in my case, Grandma...