Good Manners, The Delights Of 'Twelve' and The Best Mum.
Monday 6 February 2012
It had snowed in England a few days before...also in north Holland...
but I set off late morning after checking the weather forecast....all seemed well.
The sun shining...a warm car...and some good CD' s...I hit Holland early afternoon.
I stopped for some lunch...Chicken Sate and some French Fries which the Dutch do well.
Funny moment as I ate...on the next table were a Dutch family with a young son of about 6 years old. As they were leaving he wandered over to see what I was eating. In his native language he asked what it was...and I answered in German...his mum then called to him and he turned to her and said 'Opa'(Grandad)...and scuttled off to join his family. His mother and I exchanged glances and we had to laugh. The botox is obviously not working!
Arrived at Europort at the Hook of Holland....north of Rotterdam...just after 4 pm...and loading started at 5 pm.
I find it is worth paying for 'priority' as you get on first and are first off next morning.
My fears were the cabin...having been kept awake the last time by a drunk English couple in bathing costumes. Yes...I know...you could not make it up! Searching for the room I finally located it...right at the front(bow). Wonderful...and in advance...I did not hear a sound all night. Must contact the Ferry people to acquire the same one on the way back.
I had brought along a half-bottle...and I mentioned this when booking the table in 'Logan's Brasserie'. The boat's name is 'Pride of Rotterdam' and has a Philippine crew who are very friendly. I decided to risk the House Champagne...'Philippe Lamarliere' Grand Reserve Brut' which was surprisingly very pleasant. The Rioja I had opened in my cabin to give it some air.
The Grilled Black Pudding with Caramelized Apples starter was larger than expected...but I had told the waiter not to even think about my main course until I had given him the nod. If you don't do this....you will end up with the last piece of any starter still being divulged as the next course appears. Very tasty indeed was the BP...and the Rioja was then tried.
Vina Ardanza Reserve Especial 2001
This is how I remember Rioja...a touch over-oaked but with the airing it disappeared.
Rioja has changed a lot...but I want it like this. It is ain't broke...don't mend it. This is certainly not broken...and excellent value for what it costs. Very smooth...with some coffee and leather tones...tart cherry on the palate...and excellent with any meat course I would have ordered. This I had done...but the Roast Lamb with Vegetable Broth was chewy...and not hot...so I asked for a short re-warm...which did not help.
Rioja 1 Lamb 0.
Points....for the wine...17...for the Lamb...as they say in France 'Null Points'
As already stated...the night was peaceful.
Tuesday 7 February 2012
Third car off the boat...I was on the road at 8am...a short stop for a Bacon Butty...and I was at my mum's home at 11am. It's been a year since my brother passed away...and this trip was to see how she was...and also to relax myself from the stress of the business. My Mum looks good at 87 years old!
Every time I go over...our first evening ritual has been to go for a Thai meal. The best one in the area is The Mews in Poulton. Another reason is that they have one decent wine on their list. We booked a table...which was correct as it turned out...with the place full an hour after we arrived. A favourite starter when eating Thai is 'Larb Gai'...chopped chicken and roasted rice. It can be VERY spicy so I asked them to tone is down so that Mum & I could share a plate.The first taste seemed to be OK...but by the time we had finished it was pretty much as always. However...my mum enjoyed it. We followed this with two curries...a Pineapple Curry with Pork for the lady and I took a Red Curry with Prawns. Both very good indeed.
Every time I go....about once a year...they have a new vintage of the wine...so there must be some more idiots who like a good bottle.
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Clear lined...fresh and bouncy...fruity gooseberry...and coped admirably with the spices.
I went to the toilet and half glanced at the door where it stated 'Please Lock The Door'. I presumed it meant when the staff were closing....so did nothing while in there. Later in the evening I went again...to find the door locked...so I waited ...and a lady came out to my surprise. I had presumed the restaurant would have one for each sex. Not so...good job nobody had came in on my first visit.
Funny Moment...or a better description should be...'Disgusting Moment.' On the next table a guy obviously had something between his teeth and searching the table for help he grasped a straw and opened one end a little...then with a gaping mouth...his fist inside...grimacing...he attempted to free whatever it was. The waitress produced a toothpick...but the same open-jawed position was in view. What is your hand for you moron! Cover it up...we don't want to see your tonsils. Is it any wonder that the youth of today have no table manners. 'Planet of The Apes' came to mind...one day he will get lock-jaw and it will maybe be a lesson to him. More 'Funny Peculiar than Funny Ha-Ha'
Wednesday 8 February 2012
A drive around the area to check on a few eating possibilities. The small country house 'Singleton Lodge' was on the list...and we booked the table for the evening personally...with the usual mention I would bring a bottle. It was still very cold and the walk in Lytham had been no pleasure with the wind. A relaxing afternoon...we waiting for my nice to collect us.
She has a small car...but it is only a 10 mile drive. However, my mum opted to sit in the back...you tilt the front sit forward to get in there. That all went OK.
She tried to get out when we arrived...not that easy for a lady of here age so I stood there and took her arms and heaved her up and round the door. Funny...and I told her I would go in the back on the return journey ( and found out that it could not have been easy for her)
We were met (no we were not)...we had to look for someone to greet us...so we sat ourselves down in the 'living room' There are some rooms here as well and they cater for weddings and parties. Eventually a waiter and gave us the menus. I gave him a bottle of red to open and air. We decided on the food...and were led into the room with 4 tables. Only one was occupied so they were not overworked. The reason I say this was that we had to inquire after 10 minutes if we could have some bread and a bottle of water. They arrived very quickly and were followed by our starters. My trout salad was nicely done.
The pork that followed was OK...the roast potatoes the highlight. Good, honest food...but without flair.
Escapment Kupe Pinoir Noir 2009
This is aged 50% in new French oak. Very well balanced mouthful with no edges...and a gentle perfumed smell of truffles and vibrant cherry. Silky texture...and a nice dash of acidity. This can be enjoyed now...but the feeling was that it would open to show a lot better with a few years aging.
Thursday 9 February 2012
The weather had been cold but with clear skies up to now...but a few degrees warmer and the drizzle came down all day. We set of to a newly opened Supermarket near Preston.
Waitrose Supermarket mainly has branches to the south so I rarely get to visit a store. This one had opened a week ago...and I had checked their internet site and with my list of wants we set off. Searching the shelves I soon realized that not all were on show...so asked the wine manager. He said not all the stores stock the full range but asked me into his office and we made an order to be sent next day to my mum's address. I bought a couple of wines they did have and we set of back to the warmth of home. Today was not a day to walk along sea-fronts!
Across the square where Mum live is a Restaurant called 'Twelve' which we visit a couple of times when I am over. I had seen owner Caroline in the office and reserved a table...giving her the bottle we would be drinking. It had settled down after accompanying me on my journey. The restaurant is large room...airy...and the chairs felt cold on first seating...but warmed up when the menu arrived.
The wine had been opened a couple of hours ago....the food chosen...
Home Cured Salmon, Beetroot, Horseradish Cream, Micro Herbs for Mum...Pan-Seared Scallops, Pork Bell, Cauliflower Puree, Sesame Batons, Cumine Veloute for me...super it was too. Mum took Lamb Three Ways, Pan Fried Best End, Braised Shoulder with a Haggis Fritter. I convinced her to take it medium/ medium rare. She took the advice. I ordered 'rare' Pan-Fred Duck Breast, Confit Duck Leg, Fondant Potato and a Cherry sauce. All very delicious.
I asked Caroline where Sybil and Basil(her and her husband in the kitchen have been given theses names) would eat on a night off as I wanted to find something new on this visit.
She recommended a couple...and we will see.
Funny Moment...well..again...not really....head shaking more like. A young man of about 20 (a Buddy Holly lookalike) was at the next table eating his main course. He cut the meat...took it with the fork into his mouth...nothing yet to shake your head you will say...but wait for it...then he put his knife into his mouth and licked it clean! I gave him the benefit of the doubt...but 10 times during his meal. His mother should have smacked him round the head...but maybe she had taught him to clean his cutlery while eating!
Dear world...please try to eat properly...table manners are important and if you can't manage it...try not to visit the same restaurant as I am in....
The wine...ah yes...the wine...more important than knife-sucker...was from Huber.
Huber Schlossberg Spätburgunder R 2007
Super nose...the airing had given this a welcome hand...rich...sweet Pinot...strawberry and marzipan...and as all good wines should do...it continued with the same class onto the palate. Great mouthful of fruit with the soft earthy tannins.
Friday 10 February 2012
We set off to Blackpool to check out a restaurant Caroline had recommended.In the middle of the Winter Gardens...it was only viewable thought the windows...and Mum does not like Blackpool. We decided the evening meal would be a The Trafalgar in Fleetwood...and I invited along Mum's best friend to join us. I had taken the bottle of wine earlier.
This restaurant has been around for 40 years and specializes, being right next to the sea, in fresh fish. There is the normal menus plus a board of daily offers. The starters we chose were a Soup, a Chicken Liver Pate and Scallops Mornay. Mum's pate was 6 inches long and an inch thick...and the scallops looked like a main course. Mum's Haddock was tasty....I had chosen a Smoked Haddock...which had been a left-over from the day before as it disappeared from the board after I ordered it. The place filled up and a singer in the corner was the cabaret for the night. The photo of my course was taken before they tried to pile the vegetables around the fish. Feeling bloated and not exactly satisfied...the wine saved me,
Top Selection 2009
Deep spices...intense...creamy fruit...smokey...back home I would have left some in the fridge overnight...and seen it emerge even better...but the cabaret was starting so it was divulged there and then...and we were out into the night....
Saturday 11 February 2012
We drove to the bridge where we had spread my brother's ashes the year before...Mum had not been there since as no one in the family had found the energy or time. Part of getting through such situations is to face up the them and get them done. It certainly helped my mum.
A lazy Saturday afternoon...and nothing planned for the evening. Mum said she would cook( no way though as I don't want her in the kitchen working)...or maybe some good old Fish & Chips...but at 5.30 I called another Thai restaurant and we booked a table. Bottle of wine no problem...5 pounds corkage. The food was fine with the Gain Thai not quite up to the Mews on the first night.
Before entering the restaurant...we saw a new venture across the road called 'Indulge'.
The food 'sounded' great...so I popped in to ask if I could bring my own wine and pay the appropriate corkage. The owner was short in his reply...and that was that. More later.
The red I had purchased at Waitrose...
Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir 2007
Russian River Valley, U.S.A.
Very upfront juicy fruit on the nose & palate...with some hairy tannins...and strangely...as it opened the oak became more dominant
Now...if you have been with me from the start of this trip...you can guess what is coming.
Funny Moment....not really...another 'Disgusting' one though.
Into the restaurant walked a young couple,,,early 20's...she...blond hair...with 6 inch heels...and a green dress with a slit at the back up to her..........Bum's were made to sit on was what my teacher told me. She sits down and types away on her phone. That finished...they order.and the phone rings...LOUDLY...which frightened her boyfriend at first.
All of the above pretty normal you say...ah....but read on. The starters had arrived...and she put her hand to her mouth...looked around to see no one was watching (sorry girl...but you missed me)...she then took out her chewing gum and stuck it...under the table. Now...we used to do that as 10 year old's at school...and the teacher gave us a whack on the back of the head. However...it seems the Charm School where this girl had gone had not done it's best...or maybe she had left after the first week. Whatever...a whack round the head made you understand right and wrong and about discipline. Then my parents taught me manners.
My system would work nowadays...but those days are gone...and don't tell me I am old fashioned...the last few days in restaurants have proved my point.!!!
We asked for the bill..and a couple of ladies on the next table got up at the same time...one of them wearing some trousers that had sank down lower that planned...but I got the pleasure (I don't think) of seeing half of what was in there before she pulled them up.
Is this the end of it on the holiday...am I cursed(smile)...or is it just the North of England?
Sunday 12 February 2012
Lazy Sunday morning...then in the afternoon I was in the local pub at 3.30 (drinking coffee)...to watch my team play on the large screen. They won 1-0 so as I prepared to go out I was in high spirits. My niece was joining us this evening...and we were taking the 50 steps across the square to the Twelve Restaurant...where I feel safe...in the knowledge that food food and service will be offered. I had popped in earlier to give Caroline the bottle for the evening...the 2009 version of the Crystallum...the 2010 a few weeks ago had made me sit up. The food we ordered consisted of Foie Gras Terrine, Caramel Reduction...with my niece of 20 asking if I knew how it was made...I told her the geese I had seen on a farm in Alsace had all looked very happy. It did not convince her. It was excellent. My mum had the Lamb...again and my niece the Char Grilled Three Cuts of Beef, Dauphinois Potatoes, Peppercorn Sauce...and it was a struggle...to have it done medium rather than well done. The water seemed please as he didn't want to be bringing a piece of leather to the table. I have told them both I will make them wear blindfolds in future...as it seems the sign of anything red in meat puts them off. My Bambi...sorry...I mean Haunch of Roe Deer, Polenta, Chocolate Sauce...was ordered rare!
Crystallum Pinot Noir 2009
Was looking forward to this...after the 2010 a few weeks ago...it was very good...but the younger sibling had impressed more...or my memory was fading.
Out into the night...the mist was hovering...but the air seemed clearer than over the last few days.
Monday 13 February 2012
Two down...one to go. The third Thai restaurant was this evening...most food places are closed on this day. The 'Suda' is mainly a take-away...but have some tables at the back and are planning to expand. No problem bringing wine...and as it was white I delivered it
in advance. As we arrives later...the waitress...nice...but a little dizzy...said the table we aimed for was reserved...then realized we were the people who had reserved it. We laughed and I asked her colleague if we were safe with her for the night. We were...she was very attentive....and not having a cooler...was happy to keep filling the glasses by taking the bottle back and forth to the fridge. The food....well the prawns were nicely done in batter....but the curry was...well...thickened...tasty enough...but not light as it should be.
Skillogalee Wines Clare Valley
The wine was tight...and as I am not a lover of young acidity...had difficulty appraising it fairly. Lime and toast...some oranges...but a while away from being my style. Certainly better with the food.....
Tuesday 14 February 2012
Valentine's Day. Before I had left Germany I had ordered some flowers from our local florist.
I called my office and my secretary said nothing had arrived so she called the shop and they were delivered. I called my wife early afternoon and she was as happy as a bunny. She asked how was my mum and myself...and I answered that the break was doing us both good...so my wife said to add on a few days...as they were managing OK with the business. I called P & O Ferries and booked a return for Monday 20th February.
We were going to have some Fish & Chips that evening....but decided that some more Thai from the Mews would be nice...so I collected it and we ate at home. The last drop of the previous day's wine did not convince me to up the marking. The Siglo 1 cigar was a delight.
Wednesday 15 February 2012
As the trip was now extended I drove over to the Restaurant 'Indulge' in Poulton mentioned on the previous Saturday. It was midday. As I entered the manager was in an intense conversation....'insulting my chef...I know the police...$§***' and so on. I asked for the wine-list and glanced through it as the owner continued his rant on the phone. The wine-list was ordinary...and...grrrrrr...no vintages. As he finished I introduced myself and inquired about bringing a bottle as the list was pretty basic. Nothing nasty....but before I could say the food list looks great etc...he had flipped...' Come in here...insulting my food and wine...' and asked me to leave. Now...I am an easy going guy...practically everyone in the world gets on with me...so I tried to placate him. No chance...nada...he was gone...eyes fiery. As he was still ranting I made for the door...then turned round and said...'Ever thought that you are the problem with all the hassle in your life?...and left. We had a few things to do...but as we drove past at 12.40...he was stood staring out of the restaurant window....nobody in there eating. If the restaurant is still there in 12 months I will be surprised as his character certainly does not lend itself to dealing with customers. Maybe I should send Gordon Ramsey to him!
Restaurant Twelve again this evening. I told owner Caroline about my 'happening' with the guy in Poulton. She gave me the thums up when I quoted my parting shot t him. In previous restaurants he had lost staff due to his temper...and on a visit to Twelve had almost been removed! I told you all it was not me...I am too lovable.
Tonight was just perfect. Not knowing what to expect....I ordered the starter Pigs Head Croquet with Puy Lentils, Apple Puree and Crackling. To be honest the description does not really do it justice. I had to laugh when the waiter brought it...placed it down on the table and said 'Pigs Head'. Teasing him I said...'Are you insulting me or is that the name of the dish? The crackling is not for the wearers of false teeth. The whole was delicious and paired well with the red. I opted again for the Pan-Fried Duck Breast, Confit Duck Leg, Fondant Potato and a Cherry sauce. I prompted Mum to have a Poached Haddock which was also a hit. The restaurant was very busy and I sat there taking it all in. I find it very pleasurable watching a well run restaurant...the whole thing flowing...everyone knows what they are doing...and are attentive and very friendly. Easy if you try...Mr. Angry Man in Poulton!!!
Schubert Marion's Vineyard
Pinot Noir 2008
Waipara, New Zealand
Some info on the bottle...spends it's youth in 30% new 70% used French oak barriques...13 months in all. It was very very good...one of the best NZ Pinots yet. Reminded me a lot of a Baden Spätburgunder. Wonder if Mr. Schubert has any German connections with a name like that. Seductive soft fruit from the glass...great ripe, sweet strawberries on the palate...perfect now. One from the case of Pinots from Waitrose. I had the sense to order 2 bottles of this one.
You are a clever boy Barry.
Thursday 16 February 2012
Enjoyed the cold sunshine in the square...with the windmill in the background.
As my Mum had tried to cook while I am over...I finally conceded for this evening...and decided it was also going to be wine free one. Soccer on TV...Manchester City in Porto....they won!
Friday 17 February 2012
The first of three evenings booked in at Twelve. No...I am not getting paid to promote it...but sitting down this evening....I find piece of mind...and don't really want to be adventurous and disappointed over my last 3 evenings in England. I had taken the white wine earlier...and this evening it was going to be fish as the main course. As a starter I took the Milli Feuille of Goats Cheese...absolutely delicious and and probably a better marriage with the wine than the main course. Mum went for the Chicken Liver Parfait...but I am trying to convince her to take the Foie Gras Terrine tomorrow night. Her main course was a light and fluffy Poached Whiting. Pan Fried Seabass, Mini Fondant, Mussels and Parsnip Sauce was my pleasure for the main course. Got to mention, by the way, the excellent bread on offer. Mum managed a dessert...a trifle.
Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru 2008
Purchased direct from the Waitrose supermarket last week...28 UK pounds. It is a snip...not for your oaked Chardonnay lovers...this is delicate...fine Burgundy is sometimes indescribable...it is just IT. The gentle creamy feel spread over the palate. Fine length and a second bottle purchased will be given a couple of years.
Saturday 18 February 2012
Slept long....then just sat there staring into space...no phone calls...no appointments...no PC...only my laptop...been a while since I had this long a break from all the stress of business.
A sunny start to the afternoon...and I set off to the Football Stadium....Fleetwood Town...who are top of the 5th Tier. Sitting watching is much colder than you think....and as much as I was wrapped up...it was 'Brass Monkey' weather...( So cold it freezes the ***** off a Brass Monkey...in case you are not familiar with the phrase). We even had a five minute hailstorm. Fleetwood won 1-0 and I was back home to try to get some feeling in my toes.
As threatened...in the restaurant...I convinced mum to try the Foie Gras Terrine. Let's say she ate it...but would not order it again. Her main course was more to her liking...Grilled Lemon Sole, Mini Fondant, Fennel Viege. New on the menu tonight...Roast Guinea Fowl Breast, Confit Leg, Fondant Potato, Celeriac Puree. What liquid would help it down?...
A Pinot from Down Under.
Mac Forbes Coldstream Linot Noir 2010
Yarra Valley, Australia
This must be the first Pinot Noir from Austrlalia for ages...New Zealand is where I go to from down that corner of the world, The Waitrose website had stated 2008/2010...so it was no great surprise when the 2010 was delivered. My question?...what happened to the 2009 Vintage.
This was fresh, young, spritely...prickly tannins
Sunday 19 February 2012
Bad night...no sleep...long day...enough said...food and wine to save me.
I had asked Caroline to write a message on the flashing notice board at the back of the restaurant. Got a tear in my mum's eye.
This was probably the quietest night so far...about 25 people in all...which to many restaurants would be a godsend. Mums main course was an Open Chicken Pie, Leek & Pea Vegetables, Butter Puff Pastry while my final assault was Forest of Bowland Aged Beef Fillet, Braised Shin, Carrot & Swede Puree.
Riorret Merricks Grove Vineyard
Pinot Noir 2008
Mornington Peninsula, Australia
Gloss and polish feel...this was a nice wine to finish the last visit to Twelve. Looks good as well...as a waitress commented. Concentrated....but smooth...cherry fruit...quite long
Hope for us yet.
On the next table was a young man..about 14 years old...with his mother and grandmother. He held his cutlery correctly...spoke clearly...listened attentively to his elders...and didn't once tap into a phone.
I went over to his mother and congratulated her on a job well done. It is possible then....
A kind gesture from owner Caroline...who thanked me for probably holding the record...6 visits in 14 days...and my meal was on the house tonight
Monday 20 February 2010
A good night's sleep...
Set off for Hull around midday making a detour to pick up a few bottles from a Majestic store in Berveley. Losing an hour overnight means getting into the restaurant early.
The Ship is the Pride of Hull with the Portuguese team in there. A starter of Smoked Salmon and another glass of the respectable Champagne were followed bya Casterbridge Rib Eye steak...
with some Pommes Frites...and it was a good choice. The half-bottle I had brought....
Was a red from Spain...is the better way to describe it...still tight...even at this age...and we started out this trip with a 'real' Rioja...traditional versions for me.
Tuesday 23 February 2012
A bad night...with the winds strong until about 3am...and I managed 3 hours until 6am.
Decided to get some breakfast before leaving the ship near Rotterdam...which was at 9 am. Four & a half hours later....the 460 Kilometers were behind me...and I was back home.
RésuméBest Wine: The Huber....Thursday 9th...a long journey with me from Germany...was on top form.
Best Meal: All 6 at the Twelve...but Wednesday 15th just heads it.
Best of the Worst Moments or Worst of The Worst Moment:
Well...'Buddy Holly Man' was not nice....'Chewing Gum Paris' was yucky...but 'Jaws' on the first night will remain in the memory. One day he will get lock-jaw...when the God of Good Manners decides to punish him. Ha!
Best Mum: MINE!