Snow all over Europe....and the English were having difficulty dealing with it on the weekend before I was due to travel. By monday morning things looked brighter everywhere..and I set off from Germany to Rotterdam (450 Kilometres) to take the ship overnight to Hull. Roads clear and music to accompany me..I arrived late afternoon...car onto the ship...and found my cabin...this time slighly larger..and very important..'in a quieter part of the ship'...previous cabins situated where 'lager louts' were also accommodated had meant sleepless nights.....as things turned out...I slept very little anyway.
UPFRONT: The quality of some photos are not up to the usual high standard...wouldn't you just know it...the flash was not working.....camera now at the repair shop!
Dinner in Langan's Bistro...the 'better' choice...the other place is full of people heading for the buffet...your plate is removed before you have finished..not for me!!!! I chose the wild mushrooms on brioche which actually tasted better that it looked. The 'green decoration' looked 'half-dead'...so it returned with the, otherwise, empty plate to the kitchen. It was to return (that's what it looked like)..even more dead...with the Casterbridge steak. This was OK....but that green stuff never passed my lips. The wine list comprised of the usual 'no information'...no grower details..no vintages. I had asked said to the Philippine staff..I would like to drink a 'good' wine...to which the reply came 'everyone takes the Rioja'....so I did...and glancing around to other tables....either they had all decided this was the best bet...or they had been given the same advice. A 'classic' English dessert had to be tried..'Spotted Dick'
Montefusta Crianza 2005
Mid-weight...earthy fruit....developed when the food arrived...spends a year in oak....
It was OK...better with some air..and paired well with the steak.....but all I wanted was half of it. Back to the cabin...thinking an early night..as English time is an hour earlier..and you were warned that the tannoy sytem would wake you next morning at 6am. Turn on the TV I thought...and wow...they were showing on Dutch television the live game of soccer...featuring my team (over 50 years a fan)...Manchester City. What happened..well..I ended up watching the whole game...very exciting..and, of course, couldn't get off to sleep. As threatened...the blaring tannoy aroused me at 6am...quick shower..cup of tea...and down to drive to car off the ship. The roads in England were clear...only crossing the Pennine hills could you see the amount that had fallen. Arrived at my mum's place(near Blackpool) late morning...happy...but 'knackered'. Mum lives in an idyllic village called Thornton.....
I had planned restaurants for the whole trip..and my mum had been 'warned' she would not be cooking. Tuesday evening...and we were off to a Thai..The Mews. It was very cold as we walked there...and it was VERY cold inside. The marble glass tables didn't help..plus the iced-water. The food was good...and the place warmed up as people came in....but the funny moment came when the owner collected the soup dishes...'Was it good?'..he asked...I replied positively and then said' but it is very cold in here'..to which he replied' Yes...I know'..turned away and went to the kitchen. You had to laugh!!! The green and red curries were fine...and I had chosen the only good wine on the list..Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. No vintage on the list..and it arrived with 2009 on the label...which of course should not have surprised..as down under the vintage is 6 months earlier. Thankfully the style has changed...the gooseberry dominance I remembered had been reduced...this was soft..creamy smooth...with the right balance. Mum loved it....
Next day Mum & I set off to Lytham....a complete opposite to nearby Blackpool...we had a Fish & Chip lunch at the legendary Seniors Restaurant. On the way back home I wanted to check 2 restaurants I wanted to visit. Both closed...so I waited until 5 pm and called them both. Answering machines telling me they were both closed. A third choice was called..'Anon'...the owner was on the phone...was he open..don't know..why not...heating not working..call again in 30 minutes. He called back at 6 pm...heating working....table for 2 I said...can I bring a bottle...no problem...do you have a good wine glass...yes..he replied..wine is the reason I started the restaurant. I had taken with me 3 Spätburgunder(what did you expect me to take?)...and the one for this evening was a recent find. The owner Tim..greeted us...no-one else in the restaurant...and that was how it stayed. Midweek...and it was cold outside. He is very amusing...and was fascinated by the wine...and impressed after having a taste.
Weingut Michel Achkarren Schlossberg Spätburgunder *** 2007
Loads of sweet ripe fruit...earthy strawberry....soft tannins and excellent value at € 19,--
The food was delicious...the duck strips on a plum compote..and the Lamb in mint was also very good. It was a lovely, cosy evening....and as we waited for our 'taxi'( my niece and god-child had agreed to collect us)..I tried the cheesecake.We said goodbye...thinking we would not see Tim again.
Thursday was a lazy day...and mum said she would prepare some salmon. Off to the supermarket to get a bottle of white. All of them have a large range....but the whites were mostly Australian. I finally chose the Banrock Station Reserva Chardonnay Verdelho 2008
The first glass was pleasant..then the oak set in....I struggled to enjoy anymore...
Friday...and I wanted to take my brother, his wife, my niece..and my mum out to dinner. After much discussion...they asked if we could go to 'Anon'. I was more than happy....so a table for 5 was booked. We arrived...the place was full...which I was glad to see. The food was again delicious...I ordered a white from the list..and had the red I had brought along opened to air.
The white was from the Penedes in Spain...
Gran Clot Dels Oms Chardonnay 2008
It was non-oaked...crisp green fruits with a refreshing dry finish ..racy and spicy...and found it's partner in the Aberdeen Haggis
Claus Schneider Pinot Noir trocken Barrique
Weiler Schlipf 2005
This was as good as ever....see here
The main course..Goosnargh (the area where they are reared) Duck honey glazed in a rum sauce...from the 'specials of the day'...was a perfect foil.
Mum(85 years old!) & I look happy enough....
Saturday evening and a table for 2 in a restaurant across the square from my mum's place.....stagger home! It is called 'Twelve'..and has been there for many years. Modern..with young bouncy staff....maybe not really fully informed....but not a problem. I took along my third wine....
The food was good...Starter was Foie Gras on toast...followed by herb crusted Lamb.....well presented....and the wine was very good...the third of those that traveled with me.
Weingut Seeger Heidelberger Herrenberg Blauer Spätburgunder 'R' 2007
This is Reserva quality...more weight than many...nose leapt from the glass...the vintage makes it already approachable..but there is power here..to age and widen...no pain to drink now though...
Not good...thick weighty wine glasses......should be others on offer...in case a wine nut like me arrives....
The cheese plate was nicely presented..
Sunday was what it should be in England...if I remember rightly...a trip to a pub for lunch..weather was cold but sunny...which my mum loves....then a lazy day......next morning I left for Bristol.