We do a lot of things in life. I’m here to review a whole bunch of them.
We do a lot of things in life. Tons. Some good, some bad, and some that leave you non-plussed (and that can apply to both senses of the word, be it bemused or just not bovvered, innit?). But how often do we really get down to the nitty gritty of our experiences and document them in word format for the whole world to read? (Or at least provide the world with an option to read all about it – I wouldn’t want to be pushy with my drivel.) I’ve been wanting to start writing reviews for a while, with my own spin adeptly on them (she says). I don’t want to just write TripAdvisor comments or Amazon star ratings, I want to translate feelings, stories, sentiment and internal arguments about the things I feel strongly about (which could truly be anything, so be warned).
Fear not! I won’t be reviewing all the things I get up to. Heck, I may not even publish my thoughts some of the more special experiences I encounter and just reserve those for thrilling and enticing conversation. I’m here to dabble in the art of reviewing all manner of things: films, music, restaurants, alcohol or other more classic subjects prone to a good slating or applause. But I aim also to document life’s simplicities, like maybe a really, really fine mug of PG Tips (a good cup of tea can be the saviour of many a crisis, or the humble reward after a few hours’ hard graft – it all boils down to context and quality of the brew), or the satisfying way that the rain cascades down the window panes to create endless watery ravines and channels in that fascinatingly drippy way that we all notice once in a while when lost in a grey-rainy-day-daze. That may sound dull and pointless, but I swear to you that should the day arise when said review is written, I will make it pleasing and humorous and oh-so charming for you, lovely readers. (I hope.)
Oh, and there will definitely be game reviews. With. Out. A. Doubt.
So basically, whenever the mood takes me or something, for some reason or other, has struck a chord of review-writing inspiration, here I will be, voicing my opinion and rating a recent experience. I hope to do so in a mildly entertaining fashion at the very least. If I’m performing below par, please accept my profuse apologies in advance. The internet should be full of eloquence and intelligence at least as much as funny videos of goats leaping with glee! Though I’m not sure that even as a global collective we can outdo Trump’s prolific ineloquence and unintelligence…
But I digress. Wherever I see fit and have the unstoppable urge to let the world know just how surprisingly good Aldi’s own brand houmous is or what a car crash of a film the latest Pirate’s of the Caribbean was (NB: I’ve not actually seen it, and doubt I ever will, but I think it’s a fair assumption based on the third one, At World’s End, which was a poor follow up considering its two predecessors), I’ll be there with a little reviewski…
One final note: I intend on devising my own rating system for the various topics of discussion that will arise in this blog. It could quite possibly be alcohol related. For example: that boiled egg gets a four out of five pints from me! Or perhaps Ed Sheeran’s single ‘House on the Hill’ gets an irritating dregs-of-an-old-bottle-of-sour-white-wine-that-really-needs-chucking-out rating. It’s a work in progress, but bear with me on this.
So, here’s to a future more judgementally dissected and scrutinised by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my ramblings – cheers!
It’s a mouthful, but a very delicious mouthful indeed.
A few years ago, in my more obsessed dessert-foodie stage of life, I spent hours upon hours trawling the pages of tastespotting.com for exciting new recipes. I could frequently be found drooling over picture-perfect meringue peaks and oozing chocolate desserts, bookmarking near everything that excited me but with very few recipes actually reimagined in my own kitchen. Except when it came to ice creams. Why ice cream? Perhaps due to its longevity and the fact that you don’t need to worry about eating the whole amount in a few days before it goes off as with other delicious naughty treats. Or maybe it’s because I just love ice cream. Always have done, always will. There are plenty of pictures of me as a toddler with a Mr Whippy, Twister or Fab ice lolly, regardless of the weather. Hard core, oh yeah.
So one day, my virtual travels of the culinary world led me to a rather enticing recipe for tea & biscuit ice cream with a salty caramel swirl (courtesy of the Little Loaf‘s blog page) My curiosity instantly peaked and I just had to try it. To some, it probably sounds disgusting. Not me I – I love tea, and what tea drinker doesn’t love to dunk a McVities Digestive (or other biccy of choice) in a nice cuppa? The recipe had to be tried. Had to. To the kitchen! *Grabs apron superhero-style and bounds round the corner in a puff of icing sugar*
Making this ice cream requires a little patience, as all ice creams do due to the chilling and freezing. But if you’re willing to go the extra mile by making your own caramel too, it’s so worth it. I do every time; it’s not too tricky and less expensive than buying a tub of dulce de leche. Fortunately, the Little Loaf’s author, Kate, leaves a simple recipe at the end of the page which I have turned to time and time again for my caramel needs.
For the ice cream the instructions suggest the use of loose leaf tea, but I steep normal black teabags and the results come out just perfectly. I used 3 PG Tips tea bags for my last batch of ice cream (yes, I’ve made it a fair few times over the years it’s that good!) and they produce a perfectly lovely flavour. So just use whatever tea bags you have, or if you want to splash out on some posher tea – loose leaf or bags – for a higher quality brew, then by all means go ahead and experiment. The tea-custard base is just the right level of sweet to balance the tea’s tannins.
Once the base is cooled and churned to semi-frozen (or arduously frozen by hand – you need have the patience of a saint to do it that way) and ready for the freezer, it’s time to layer up. I would suggest to just use your judgement as to how much caramel and crushed biscuits you add, but I’d say I use about 4-5 tablespoons of caramel and no more than 5-6 crushed Digestives is about right. Make sure your caramel is room temp at least or heated slightly in order to get some good streaks and globs of caramel running through your mix. It’s also good not to pulverise your biscuits completely and leave a few good chunks as a nice textural contrast to all the other smoothness going on. Leave to set for a few hours or overnight, then indulge….
The gorgeous swirl of caramel adds a nice toffee richness to the delicate tea ice cream, while the Digestives add a delicious crunch. For me, this recipe is hands down a winner, and I’ll bet that even non tea-drinkers would like it! You could mix up the biscuits for Hobnobs to add a lovely buttery oatiness, or perhaps some Amaretti biscuits for an almondy Italian twist. The ice cream world is your oyster! Hmmm, a scoop in one of those oyster wafer shells would be interesting too….
If you love your ice cream and enjoy a bit of sweet experimentation, then I highly recommend giving the Little Loaf’s recipe a go. It’s a winner for me and I’ll keep coming back to it for years to come.
I’d say this recipe gets a glass of smooth dessert wine, or perhaps a decent measure of good French Armagnac brandy as an alcoholic ‘thumbs up’ from me. Cheers!
It’s not often that I treat myself to a meal out, so when I made arrangements to meet up with my friend today I thought ‘Hell, why not? Let’s go for it!’. I put forward the notion of going to a new burger kitchen that’s opened up in Brighton’s East Street Tap pub going by the name of ‘Burger Kult’. They proclaim to serve some of the best dirty burgers in town, and you know what? With all the conscious efforts to be fitter and healthier at the moment I deemed it about time to indulge in something sleazy like a dripping, oozing burger. Plus, I need my protein, right?
We arrived at the bar and were served by the lovely barmaid pronto (the perks of going midweek lunchtime). We both ordered the Chuck Satan (Remix) burger, evidently a best seller and with the list of mouthwatering filling such as maple bacon, Bourbon BBQ sauce, red onion and muscovado relish, St Giles cheese, fresh tomato and lettuce (yes, all in one burger) you can see why the punters might be tempted! We took our seats and waited with eager anticipation for the glory that was our lunch.
The devilish order was out pretty swiftly, and let me tell you the divine smell that hit my nostrils was enough to get me pretty darn excited for the flavours that were about to hit my taste buds. And with good reason. It. Was. Sublime. Hands down the best burger I’ve ever eaten. The burger was pink in the middle which really paid homage to the quality of the meat (ground chuck steak) making it beautifully succulent and moist. The bacon, BBQ sauce and relish were so juicy and sweet against the savoury of the beef, these elements swaddled the meat in a tender, oozing deliciousness. Then the cheese just brought the savoury back up again to match the sweetness, swamping everything with a gorgeous creamy Cheddar flavour. The salad was lovely and fresh, cutting through all the indulgent excitement with a hint of colour and crunch. Even the brioche bun was delicious – again, a little sweet but so soft and lightly buttery throughout.
Completing the experience was a side of fries served in coloured tumblers, which added a funky element to the presentation. And I have to say they were damn superb fries. Halfway between a fry and a chip (I’m not a skinny fries girl, so I was happy), they were perfectly formed and cooked, and well seasoned with the chef’s secret spice stash. (Perhaps a delicate paprika/chilli blend..?)
Unusually for me, I polished off the lot. Quite often I hardly have any bun and savour the chips, but care I did not! I was not elegant about this meal in the slightest and licked my fingers of every last morsel of BBQ sauce and chip seasoning before me. Dirty burgers are a thing for a reason. They’re good. They’re VERY good. In fact, they quite possibly are my new favourite thing and I’ll have to go back to Burger Kult to try the rest of the menu. Although I may have to limit myself to one every two weeks, because I’m pretty sure that a dirty burger is a big fat NO-NO on any personal trainer’s list. Any more often than that and it’s high cholesterol, here I come!
Honestly, I can’t recommend Burger Kult’s dirty burgers enough. So get yourself down to sunny (and windy) Brighton and order yourself some drool-inducing, juicy gorgeous meatiness – or the vegetarian ‘Holy Ray’, butter-griddled Halloumi cheese with tortilla chips, BBQ sauce piquillo peppers and lord knows what else, it sounds amazing. I hear tell that there’s also a vegan option in the making….. At Burger Kult, they will endeavour to make it devilishly delicious, whatever your foodie inclination. I know I’m hooked.
Booze rating: a few super-chilled pints of Pravha, or any of your favourite European pilsners to wash down that dirty, disgusting indulgence. Oh yeah.
This weekend saw the prenuptial hen do celebrations of a friend of mine, for which there were many surprises planned and I was thrilled to be a part of. Apart from the inevitable copious amounts of booze drinking – gin in particular for this special bride-to-be! – there was quite a different activity planned for Saturday morning (having kept Friday night fairly light in anticipation of the ensuing event…).
A pole dancing session! Eeeee! Just to clarify, that was an excitable exclamation rather than a fearful one. The idea of doing pole dancing for fitness has intrigued me for a while: it’s super strength-building and develops excellent core muscles, and I think just looks pretty darn fun. Spinning and twirling pulling all kinds of unusual shapes on a pole like a sexy acrobat holds quite the appeal to me. You might have guessed it, but I was the one to suggest the pole dancing for the hen weekend 😉 And surprisingly, everyone was up for it and willing to give it a go!
Instructed to wear short shorts and a vest top for maximum grip from our skin to the pole, off we went to our session with eager anticipation – although I’m probably largely speaking for myself here. Our trainer was a bouncy, fun, gung-ho trainer called Alice who runs pole dancing classes in her Funky Monkey studio in Bath. She was fantastic at getting us all giggling and loosened up with some warm up stretches, and she had quite a fun introductory activity for us. Stood in a semi-circle, we were asked to step in one at a time and strike a pose whilst shouting out our name, then say our pole dancing name which was to be a combo of our first pet’s name and mother’s maiden name. Feeling rather sophisticated, if perhaps a little snooty-sounding, my designated pole dancer’s title was Cocoa Charles (Cocoa was my first pet rabbit – thank goodness I remembered because initially I thought I’d be William Charles after the name of my first hamster at the age of about 8. That just wouldn’t work).
Suitably warmed up and ready for action, we had 4 poles across a group of 7 and paired up with the hen working alongside the instructor. The bouncing energy that was Alice demonstrated a variety of basic pole dancing moves and poses, of which we were instructed to have a go at ourselves – some of us tentatively, others with gusto. I was in the latter and happy to throw myself at and around the pole! I loved it, and particularly enjoyed the spins we did, which were called ‘the fireman’, ‘attitude’ and ‘the cradle’. Each spin required three steps around the pole before swinging into the move and propelling yourself around the pole – it takes some force, which I think is what some of the group were a little afraid of or lacking confidence to do. It was double points if you managed to spin your move right down to the floor with grace, rather than the pose ceasing midway down the pole leaving you with an awkward angle to try and depart from without looking like a tangled up flamingo.
Once we were familiar with how to manoeuvre around and work with the pole, Alice then began choreographing a dance routine. I had no idea this was going to happen, and it was brilliant! Working with our pole partners, we were taken step by step through a whole dance tune (I can’t remember what, but it had a great beat to swing our hips to). It was a lot to take in and remember the moves – we all had blank moments and realised we were completely out of synch with everyone else! – but it was hugely fun and great to do an activity where we all worked together. It was made special for our hen too as she was made star of the routine as she climbed a human staircase and was lifted *ahem* gracefully (ha!) up and around in a laying down pose for the camera. After several run throughs of course. After which we still fluffed a few steps….!
The moves are a real test of upper body strength, and although I lack a bit in flexibility, I was pleased that I was able to hold myself up fairly well and do so horizontally too for some of the moves. But my word does pole dancing make you ache afterwards! Hence it’s a great workout 😉 My back and shoulders have suffered a bit, but worst is my chest – holding yourself against a big metal pole when you’re a boney-chested slim physique isn’t too comfortable. I feel rather bruised, but it’s not dampened my enthusiasm to have a go at an actual lesson for fitness. As it so happens, there are quite a few options local to me – time to book up a trial!
Big thumbs up for pole dancing from me, it gets a sexy few G & T’s to cool off with after some hot stuff working the pole.
Maybe I’ll be able to do that one day….
Here’s how damaged I can expect to feel if I took up pole dancing:
You don’t want to miss out on the flavours of this dish…
I love cooking. And I love a delicious, warming, flavoursome chilli – great for those cold and wet winter (or in Britain’s case, summer) evenings to make you feel all scrumptious and satisfied inside. There’s nothing quite like a rich, beefy spiced chilli con carne to hit the spot. Or so I thought…
Earlier in the week, I decided to make the effort and plan a few healthier meals for the next week or so. Not that there’s anything too unhealthy about a beef chilli (unless you load it up with nachos, guacamole, sour cream & cheese of course), but in my scrolling through the BBC’s Good Food website for healthy recipes I came across a rather enticing vegetarian chilli recipe. Full of spices, a dash of cocoa, peppers and beans aplenty, it compelled me to give it a whirl. The taste test proved beyond expectations – and they were already quite high!
During cooking, I was getting all the rich and thick spicy aromas that point to a good, flavoursome chilli as it bubbled and thickened in my casserole pot. The preparation took a little effort, but nothing that I’m not used to. It involves blitzing a few ingredients in a food processor to make a paste and a certain amount of chopping, but once all that’s done it’s largely a case of adding the prepared items as and when called for. Then it’s just down to time and heat to mingle the magic inside the pot of glory. The ingredients that give the dish it’s full-on flavour are the roasted peppers – of which you reserve the jar’s liquid and use that in cooking (adds a slight tang, which is an unexpected pleasing quality) – chipotle chilli paste, great for smokiness and punchiness, and a can of refried beans alongside the kidney and black beans. It’s a beany bonanza!
Little side note for anyone else out there with a garlic intolerance like I have: you don’t need to adapt the recipe! There’s no garlic in it! There’s likely to be some in the chipotle paste, but not much over a whole dish. I have to adapt my recipes so often to reduce or eliminate the garlic that it’s really quite refreshing to find a chilli recipe that doesn’t need any changing for my needs, yet still gives such a satisfying and complex flavour 🙂
If you want to jazz it up, go ahead and add cheese, jalapenos, coriander, whatever floats your boat. But honestly, give this recipe a go and I bet you won’t miss the meat! I’m going to let you in on a secret… It’s actually even vegan friendly! But Shhhh – don’t tell the hardcore meat-eaters! You just know that they’ll turn up their noses before they’ve given it a chance.
The recipe is quite simple at heart, but like all good dishes it requires a little time. But most chillies do anyway, so why not give it a go? You really have to try it! The taste is really quite something. Honestly, I troughed my bowlful without even thinking about it and was disappointed when it had all gone! There’s always seconds, and a few more days’ dinners to look forward to…
If you fancy giving it a go, then please do check out the Double Bean & Roasted Pepper Chilli recipe and cook away! You will not regret it or be disappointed with the flavours, I promise!
Reviewski rating: a bottle of rich Cabernet Sauvignon to warm you from head to toe, just like the chilli does.
I’ve visited France, Germany, and Spain this year.
You probably don’t see any difference between the above pair of sentences. But what about this pair:
On Twitter I’m following my friends, Stephen Fry, and Miley Cyrus.
On Twitter I’m following my friends, Stephen Fry and Miley Cyrus.
The second sentence is quite ambiguous. Do I mean that I follow my friends on Twitter, in addition to the celebrities Stephen Fry and Miley Cyrus? Or do I mean to say that Stephen Fry and Miley Cyrus are my friends, and I follow them on Twitter? The latter would probably make for some interesting dinner-party conversations, but that’s probably not what I meant, is it?
Still, just to be sure my meaning is clear, I can use the first sentence, with the comma between Stephen Fry and Miley Cyrus. A comma like this, before the last item in a list of three…
Chucky – renowned cult classic of horror. Another that I have known about for years, yet never watched. Lord knows I’ve seen images of the doll all over the place, his evil blue eyes, fiery red hair, denim dungarees and knife-wielding toy hand all ingrained as an iconic image of horror that we have become so familiar with. Until a couple of nights ago, I was ignorant as to Chucky’s story. All I knew was that he’s a doll who kills people. Turns out I had some learning to do.
And boy did I enjoy being educated! There’s no beating about the bush with Child’s Play, oh no, it gets straight to the action. From the word go, the audience is thrown into a chase scene as wanted serial killer Charles Lee Ray, nicknamed ‘Chucky’, (played by Brad Dourif) is pursued by the cops. There’s shooting, blood and a lot of death threats followed by Lee Ray’s voodoo chant. Said voodoo crucially leads to some ’80s special effects lightning – you know the sort, the kind that’s blatantly superimposed over the equally cheesy thunder clashes. Oh, and Charles Lee Ray – Chucky – possesses a Good Guy doll via his black magic before dying of his gun wounds. A Good Guy doll is the ‘in’ gift for a young kid if they’re into full-sized ginger dolls with oversized freckled heads, a few shitty catchphrases and possibly the most terrifying gaze you’ve ever seen (and that’s before it’s been possessed by a serial killer).
Et voila! In about 5 minutes, you have the set up for the rest of the film: psycho villain seeks revenge on cop by taking supernatural possession of a kid’s toy as a vehicle to extend his failing human life. And we all know that the Chucky doll will end up in the hands of some innocent child…. Sure, it’s predictable, but in my view there’s nothing wrong with that in this movie. It is a slightly cheesy set-up, but it’s what they do with Chucky that matters in my view.
There is something inherently unnerving about children’s dolls anyway, before adding the layer of evil soul possession. The unblinking fixed stare, permanent rubber smile, often disproportionate heads (enhanced in the Good Guy dolls – seriously, they’re the size of basket balls) and the lifelessness of a stiff toy doll mimicking the purest, most innocent stage in life: babies and childhood. To me, demonising an innocent (if slightly creepy) children’s toy doll is a brilliant idea. And of course, the Chucky-haunted doll lands itself in the lap of a young boy called Andy as a birthday gift. (Great little actor Alex Vincent is by the way, the kid who plays Andy; really convincing performance.) Also, funnily enough, it was sold by a dodgy looking back street peddlar – what could go wrong?
Plenty, of course. The doll starts talking to Andy when nobody else is around – and inevitably, nobody believes Andy when he tells them that the Chucky Good Guy doll is alive. Then comes the first bit of evil Chucky behaviour where he kills Andy’s babysitter once Andy has gone to bed and she’s all alone (good bit of irony there that a ‘Good Guy’ doll is now effectively a ‘Bad Guy’ doll). I love that the iconic lightning flashed in the background as the babysitter sat in the living room on her own – we all know what that means! In true horror style, lots of little creepy noises and small movements prepare us for Chucky’s first strike. I love all of that stuff: the gradual build to something bad happening, but what exactly will it be…? The rest of the film contains less of the building sensation, generally tending to get more directly on with the plot and focusing on Chucky’s sworn revenge.
I think there’s joy in this kind of predictability though. The film isn’t hiding anything: it makes things very clear to the audience that the spooky backstory and sinister underhandedness spell ‘danger ahead‘. It drums up the anticipation in an obvious way, the way that so many classic thrillers and horrors out there do with lightning, dodgy characters, dark and cold nights, lightning, magic spells – all of these are classic, timeless components to a scary story of some kind. They’ve been reworked again and again over the ages, and if you’re introduced to a horror, you expect some of the familiar signs to be there: they intentionally grab our attention and make us clock all the little ‘sinister’ elements that build to the bigger horror/thriller plot.
On the production of the film, I have to say that the set designers and costume workers did a great job of Chucky’s animation. There were no strings apparent, his movements were all pretty slick, and the nasty grimace that the doll adopts when Chucky is making his appearance obvious is very aggressive and threatening. Some of those expressions he pulls are seriously intense with violence. Whenever Chucky went into ‘doll’ mode – static and lifeless – it always sent a little chill of suspense through me, just waiting for when he
would reanimate and jump out in attack. That sort of ‘playing dead’ aspect gets pretty much everyone. I think Chucky has to go down as one of the most persistent characters who just won’t die at the end – not that that’s a bad thing. His molten, charred corpse just keeps going, limbless though it becomes – he’s one hell-bent nasty soul. Can’t wait to see how he comes back in the sequel….
One thing that I didn’t like so much was how they dealt with the murder scene. I know that it’s a slightly dated film now, but not one cop batted an eyelid when Andy’s mother comes running into the apartment block looking for her son even though it’s been cordoned off. She barges straight in, and then dashes directly through to her apartment in which the detective and his team are acting quite blasé. I don’t think they’d have even looked up if she’d streaked in naked shouting “I did it!”. Some of them were just settling in comfortably on the sofa with the paper! *Tut*
We all know that in modern films, crime scenes are well protected areas and it’s only ever with some reluctance and ID that the police let someone through. Out of the whole film, I found this scene the least believable(!). I guess that this lax attitude here must be down to the era it was filmed in, but surely not all of those films from the 1980s were so casual…? This aspect raises some repercussions with the film Aliens about which I discussed the unprofessional behaviour of the soldiers – both this and the crime scene in Child’s Play are serious things that would be dealt with very differently in modern films. In some ways it helped move things along quicker – no hold ups with bureaucracy, forensics and red tape preventing Andy and his mum from living in their home (whereas in movies now they’d be out of there so that the cops could investigate). So, even though it’s kind of annoying (I found myself saying out loud “That just wouldn’t happen!”) and completely inaccurate, the lack or professionalism in the crime scene did spur the rest of the film along. It is a slightly predictable horror film, after all.
Petty issue with the cops aside, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Child’s Play and look forward getting involved with the whole Chucky series. The sinister doll and his maniacal antics, the predictable eeriness of the horror genre and on the whole intriguing plot earn this film a few dark, sweet strong Kraken rum mixed with cola to see you through the madness.
Full of flavour and feeling full! This was a roast with the most.
Raise your hands, who likes roast dinners?! As 95% of the UK raise their hands and wave eagerly, crying out “Me, me, me!”, drool escaping down the side of their quivering jowls. The other 5% are stared at with utter bewilderment – who could not like a big ol’ Sunday roast with all the trimmings? Well, a few of us.
I’m not a hater of roast dinners, by any means. I’m in the rare 1.5% of Brits who aren’t too bothered, but just every so often, a really, really decent roast with tons of veg and good quality meat would actually do rather nicely, thank you very much. So before you oust me, wrongly branded as one of the 3.5% who are true Roast Haters, I do partake in the Sunday tradition from time to time and enjoy it. Maybe once every three or four months. And undoubtedly at Christmas. But Christmas dinner is a whole other sub-genre of Big Dinners, so we’ll leave that one there for now.
The past weekend was one of said occasions, having promised during the week to treat us (me and the hubby) to a pub roast. It turns out to have been one of the best ideas I’d had all week. Presenting to you……
The Poet’s Smoke and Ale House’s Roast Dinners!
They honestly were The Business. Our plates were literally piled high with heaps of delicious vegetables, succulent meat, roast potatoes and a very proud-looking Yorkshire pudding. Honestly, this roast gets points for being the tallest Sunday lunch I’ve ever been presented with. I wonder if there are any pubs that go as far as to present roast dinners taller than they are wide…
The Poet’s Smoke and Ale House is a pub that we’ve frequented a good handful of times, both for drinks and eats, so we already knew the standard would be pretty decent. During the week the pub specialises in American-style grub, with burgers aplenty, smoked ribs, smoked pulled pork, smoked half-chickens, meat platters, nachos, chilli dogs, the works. (They do some very good quality vegetarian fare too amongst the mighty meaty menu.)
So yeah, they smoke a lot of their food. I just LOVE smokey flavours, so there was a good chance I’d be having something smoked for my roast dinner. Eagerly eyeing up the Sunday specials, one thing caught my attention: smoked leg of lamb. Now, I’m actually not a big lamb fan, always deeming the flavour too farmy, the meat too greasy, and just generally not my thing – most of my lamb-tasting experiences have consisted of plain grilled cutlets which gives you the full whiffy fatty lamby farminess. But I’m keen to change my view and try different incarnations of the meat to see whether I can find a lamb dish that excites my palette. The smoked lamb got my palette, taste buds, and stomach so excited that they all did a joyful, greedy dance as I hoovered up those tender slices of meat. It wasn’t greasy, didn’t have that pungent strong farm-like taste that I’m so offended by, oh no – the lamb was smooth and succulent, the smokey flavour ran through the meat without being overpowering, it was deliciously savoury, not too rich, and without a doubt the best lamb I’ve ever eaten. Woohoo for taking a food risk!
My partner in delicious crime chose to have the 14hr smoked grain fed Australian brisket – this also did not disappoint. More subtle in its smokiness than my lamb, the beef was rich in flavour and again beautifully smooth and fall-apart tender. However, we both felt that the lamb won the battle of the tastebuds. Both dishes were awash with a rich not-too-thick-or-too-thin gravy, perfect for Yorkshire pud swirling and roast potato sponging. The roast potatoes had a thick crisp crust and fluffy centre to boot (I have a confession here, I’m not big on roast potatoes…. *Gasp!* Aaaaargh *Someone faints, someone else fetches the Emergency Extra Strong Tea to whiff under them and bring them back* …They’re just not my thing. Give me mash any day over roasties. Please don’t judge me!) – my husband appreciated the roasties at least. The Yorkshire pudding was gorgeously puffy with crisp edges, yet also had decent substance and a lovely pancake flavour to it.
And the veg. Oh the veg! I thought my greens, purples and oranges would never end, there were so many! A superior selection of vegetables is something that I really look for in a roast dinner, and The Poet’s did not fail to perform: a buried treasure of cooked red cabbage, blanched kale, roasted/sautéed carrots, mashed swede and chunks of roasted beetroot were hidden beneath the swathes of meat and tide of gravy, brightening up our plates and nourishing our bellies. They all tasted wonderfully fresh, each carrying with it its own earthy or sweet or strong individual flavour (I’ve experienced some awful roast dinners before where all the veg tastes like the same watery mush, I knew we’d be safe from such vegetable tragedy here). Having them all cooked differently too provided the dish with some nice variation – though perhaps the carrots could have been cooked a fraction less. I like a little bite to my orange roots. Still, it was a terrific selection and we hungrily devoured the lot.
By the end of our meal, we were two very satisfied diners. Two pints of a local ale (GoldBier by Harvey’s of Lewes) and a massive plate of food down and I was pretty much done. I know that the desserts are awesome at The Poet’s too, but I couldn’t face shovelling a whole load more calories down my throat. Somehow, my husband could! Mississippi Mud Pie was ordered after much dithering over the many superb sounding sweets (I would have plumped for the Pecan Pie – next time, I guess!). To quote the man himself, “It’s like a brownie on steroids!” came the review of said gooey, chocolatey dessert, which came served with a scoop of chocolate ice cream.
A successful Sunday roast it was indeed! I do enjoy The Poet’s, both its food and the pub itself. The décor is quite trendy, full of wooden furnishings – some tastefully painted in blues and creams – with some quirky hangings and mirrors adorning the walls and plenty of light to illuminate the heaving bar and brighten up the space. The staff are friendly too and the service always quite quick. I’m surprised and slightly saddened that it wasn’t busier. Sure, it’s summer, so not typically roast dinner season, but lately it’s been pretty grey and damp – surely the perfect excuse to hide yourself away in the cosy confines of your local public house to chow down on their delicious food. Worked for us anyway!
I’d say that this Reviewski is worthy of a few well-pulled pints of your favourite golden ale or lager, served by a charming barman or cheeky barmaid with the sunlight just glinting through the rain-flecked windows and some cool Sunday blues riding the soundwaves. ~ Poetic, right? For The Poet’s pub!
If I’ve enticed you to try a meal or just to pop along to The Poet’s Smoke and Ale House for a pint or two, you can find the pub tucked into the Poet’s Corner area of Hove just behind Portland Road. Check out their website or Facebook page to be tempted further – cheers!