Thursday 27 December 2012

Hello strangers :)

So firstly, hello and welcome back; please forgive the cobwebs and dust - it's been a while..

So where have I been? Mostly seat 11C on Lufthansa flights to/from Düsseldorf, or BA flights to Milan - but mainly in meetings and working daft hours...

But, and here's the good bit, occasionally I get let out of my day job (well given I now have 3 employers this actually isn't very often) and I get to experience something really very good. So here goes...

A long time ago a great group of friends got together and decide that at least once a year we'd all get our posh togs on (or I'd at least shave and wear a suit) and dine out at a high quality restaurant to sample their fine food, wines & service.

This year it was my turn to sort it out - don't laugh! Sometimes I can actually  organise things in advance, and of an OK fashion - so this year I thought we'd go north, to the lakes and stunning Cumbria... So, here's a tale in picture form...

Space is a premium in Cumbria :)

Trying not to get too distracted we wondered around the local area, but a clue to our specific location

Until we found 'our house' for the weekend

Wonderful building full of charm & style

Until off we strolled into the village...

The Kings Arms (not my picture) for a light lunch snack - great beer & food (Aspen chips & beef sandwich fully recommended!)
The Kings Arms Cartmel

We then managed all of 50yds onto their sister pub Royal Oak Inn (not my picture)

The Royal Oak Inn

With beer courtesy of Hawkshead Brewery I full recommend the Windermere Pale as a gentle supping pint whilst watching the day go by :)

Finally after a brief refresh and smarten up back at 'our house', we walked 250yrds and
said hello to our real destination - 2 Michelin stars, 10/10 Good food guide, #2 in UK...

And on to the menu - yes there are no choices, just
 a full 17 course tasting menu (excluding the cheese, port & whiskies courses) to work through!

Oyster pebbles - meringues filled with an oyster mouse. Taste of the sea that dissolved deliciously. Complete with  Oyster Leaves to nibble. Just don't try and eat the real pebbles in there as well!

Cockles and seaweed - a seaweed cracker (like a prawn cracker) filled with a delicious cream with juicy cockles...

Smoked Eel with ham Fat - possibly one of the nicest starters I've ever tasted.  Crispy skin simply dissolves to leave juicy ham with eel - perfect! If they did take-outs or on-line orders I could live on these...

Squid with Chicken - a squid ink cracker with dots of oil, crispy chicken skin and a pate, delicious...

One of the most original presentation styles I've seen in a long time - pottery 'sacks' full of  "Crispy potato with Coddled Eggs". Perfection...

Cod yoke, sage cream, radish, salt & vinegar. Pea shoots with baked salt & vinegar rice.  

The taste effect is one of posh fish, chips & mushy peas :) Utterly brilliant...

Swede, turnip in a light but strong cheese sauce - delicious

Fresh warm three types of bread

The most superb Venison tartare with amazing candid balls tasting of pernod - a sublime mix of tastes and textures that I could eat again and again

Artichoke and truffles - purée and crispy fried, strong flavours done well 

Scallops and chard - delicious and I don't know what they do to the ruby chard but it's sublime 

A whole new meaning to beetroot and ox tongue - delicious

Plaice with mussels & leeks with celeriac  

Suckling pig belly pork and veg :) Sublime...

Sea buckthorn, buttermilk and squash - sweet & bitter deliciousness...

Quince, lemon verbena & hazelnut all done to look like rocks - fantastic!

Blackberries, plum, malt & stout

My kind of cones for dessert - Pear, Calamint & Sweet Cheese

Biscuits for the cheeses

A small selection of local cheeses that we made a good dent into, accompanied by some fine ports

The finest chocolate pudding ever according to the good Mrs F...

We sat down to our table at 7pm and left at midnight, the restaurant atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming - not overly formal like some, and happily accepted a variety of casual smart to formal dress codes. The staff were friendly, witty, well informed, discreet and professional - just how it should be.

Our stay in the house also included full breakfast the next morning, so at 9:30 we found ourselves back in the same restaurant at the same table enjoying a 4 course breakfast including full-English. Needless to say we left Cartmel very happy, with full stomachs and well rested and refreshed.

So finally on to some contacts for those people that made it possible :-

@Simon_Rogan  Owner and uber-Chef
@Lenclume the restaurant team
@MarkDBirchall  Head Chef
@rjwbex Superb front of house

L'enclume restaurant itself can be found here

We stayed in L'enclume House and can recommend it fully appreciate the fine service from Franck and the team.

The local cheese shop that supplies L'enclume and is a great place to spend an hour on Sunday morning browsing superb cheeses and nibbles :-

Will we be back? Oh yes definitely!