More Tea Vicar!

Contrary to popular belief, I don't spend all my life in scruffy trousers, shoes held together with gaffer tape and a tatty old top. Yes, occasionally, very occasionally, I'm put in the bath, dusted down and dressed up 'all posh', generally when I've been press-ganged by the kids into doing something to celebrate a birthday/anniversary or similar event that I'd rather not. Unfortunately, when it comes to Mrs Young's major milestones in life, ignoring them is not an option; well it is, but I don't like hospital food! This is how I ended up agreeing to go for a nice afternoon at Coombe Abbey Country Park followed by afternoon tea at the Coombe Abbey Hotel.

Now, having stayed at Coombe Abbey for my nephew's wedding last year I had mixed feelings about the place; the actual wedding breakfast and reception were superb and the staff super helpful in a non-intrusive way, but the breakfast was pretty poor with the worst black pudding I have ever had the misfortune to eat. That alone would be enough to put me off but the worst thing about the whole place is that it's as dark as the proverbial black hole of Calcutta! OK maybe in the public areas, but when it extends to the bedrooms it's beyond a joke. They're obviously trying to create a medieval ambience, but to me, it's just plain dark; if you've got a medieval characterful building then at least let me see it!

Coombe Abbey

Fortunately, the teas are served in the Garden Restaurant, a large conservatory which is light and airy. The tea itself was superb, great service and superb food. The cakes were well made and the scones as light as a feather. I really couldn't fault it; small sandwiches of ham and tomato, smoked salmon, and cucumber were followed by almond and cherry cake, lemon drizzle cake, scones with clotted cream and jam, and millionaires shortcake. Granted, not the most 'delicate' of teas; no dainty éclairs, Mille-feuille or fruit tarts, but none the worse for that! It's a great way to spend an afternoon and if you don't fancy the full McCoy they also offer a cream tea of scones with clotted cream and jam.

Afternoon tea

On the subject of Coombe Abbey, I have to say how impressed I am with their adaption of the Grade 1 listed building for wheelchair users. Whilst there are obviously limitations to what can be done due to the nature of the building, which leads to access to certain areas being by convoluted routes, they have ensured that all the main facilities are accessible. Many other hotels will lesser constraints should take note.

Egg and Bacon Pie

I came across this recipe on The Cottage Smallholder. What caught my eye was the fact that all the ingredients are assembled raw and then cooked together. This makes it far less time consuming than other recipes which cook the filling separately before assembly. The only change I made from the original was the addition of about 8 more rashers of bacon. Four rashers to 12 eggs is just plain mean!

The pie was certainly easy to make and the end result was enough to feed a battalion. I'll certainly make it again but think that St. Delia's recipe for Egg and Bacon Pie has the edge - however, yet again the filling's on the mean side.

Egg and Bacon Pie

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New Food Magazine

Enjoy Great Food - Leicestershire and RutlandLeicestershire and Rutland now have their very own dedicated food magazine.

Enjoy Great Food Leicestershire and Rutland will be delivered free to 12,000 selected properties in Leicestershire and Rutland on a bi-monthly basis. Subscription, for those not lucky enough to receive it for nothing, is £15 annually.

The sample issue shows a professional approach with a wide variety of topics spanning both local produce and dining. My concern is that, with an advertising funded magazine, reviews may not be as 'honest' as they could be - only time will tell whether this is so. However, so far the magazine is well written with superb photography; Local Food Heroes wishes it a long and successful future.

For further details visit the Enjoy Great Food Leicestershire and Rutland Website

Elderflower Cordial Update

The elderflower cordial that I made using this recipe was strained and bottled after 5 days. I considered adding a campden tablet to prevent it fermenting but decided to risk it in the fridge without.

It's great with sparkling water added and also makes a superb sorbet.

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