Once I heard lockdown restrictions were easing, I pounced on an opportunity to make a booking for a place I have wanted to go to for years.
The Hand & Flowers by Tom Kerridge, has been recommended to me by so many people; that after a few months of no restaurants and saving some money; I booked a lunch date for two.
Why all the hype and fuss about this. Well... as they say, they are...
"A cosy, welcoming pub with outstanding food
The Hand & Flowers is the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars. We’re located in the beautiful Georgian town of Marlow, where we serve delicious, award-winning food in welcoming and comfortable surroundings."
"At The Hand & Flowers, we believe that great ingredients are crucial. Get them right, and you’re 90 per cent there. We take an honest approach to food, allowing the ingredients to be true to themselves, with a drive for flavour and nothing too complex. We have strong relationships with producers to ensure the best possible produce for our guests, and that includes many local suppliers."
I think, 'pub', 'two Michelin Stars' and 'delicious' are the things that appealed to me.
Chef Tom Kerridge also is a big draw and having one of his cookbooks and watching him, countless times of TV, means I had to sample his food myself.
Having got to the pub, on a lovely hot day, we sat outside in the sun and had our drinks. The outdoor area was very relaxed and sat in the sun, I felt like I was on holiday.
We both went for cocktails to drink and had an Old Fashioned each. One was with duck fat and the other was alcohol free. Both were very tasty, the Alcohol with duck fat version was very sweet and I made sure I enjoyed every sip in the sun.
The food we had ordered :
Looks good right?
It reads well, looked great and tasted even better. As a couple eating, the benefits are obvious; quality time and the ability to share. Although, we each ordered what we wanted (I went for the Pie to start and Lamb bun for main), we still sampled each others dishes... and then shared the chips.
To describe the food, we would say it was clever, full of rich and deep flavours AND absolutely YUMMY.
Or you could even describe it as complex and simple at the same time.
The Hand & Flowers is a special occasion type of restaurant. What this means is, book in advance, save up and believe the hype.
It was well worth the visit and I am already saving up to go back again.
GOOD TIMES: The food will leave you full and happy. The best bet would be to book a room so you can just go and lay down after.
WATCH OUT: It is pricey and there will be a wait. So book in advance.
OMG: The lamb bun, is a neat little package, that packs a punch. So tasty and i can see why it is their signature dish.
Lockdown has been tough for all. Many are struggling and we are all looking to silver linings to help us get through.
A key one for me has been spending time with my family. I am also lucky to have a garden.
A project (wish) that we started before lockdown was to start growing some herbs and veg.
The two we focused on and the two that actually did well were Carrots and Rocket.
The rocket was my wife's project and she nurtured them from a tiny seed in a jar, to a pot and then in our veg planter. It was amazing seeing them grow and grow. Once they had established themselves and we protected them from the cats, foxes and insects; we then began to feast.
This is where we really started to enjoy the freshness of the produce.
Pick, wash and eat. Once established it is that easy and quick, and when an ingredient is that fresh it can go with almost anything and at any time of day.
Breakfast = with any type of eggs
Lunch = as a salad or on the side of meat
Dinner = rocket pesto (as below) on a pasta, pizza or tuna salad too.
The carrots were given just as much love, if not more. Some are actually still in the veg box, getting bigger and longer. As you can see from the picture above, home grown carrots come in all shapes, forms and sizes.
The carrot leaves are something that surprised me and gave a great look to the garden. I always try not to waste food and this is true with the leaves too.
I decided to use the leaves as a replacement for coriander in a few recipes; these included fish cakes as well as in a salad and a smoothie too. CRAZY
Gardening and growing your own herbs and veg needs patience. You need to care for it, but also be ready to sit and wait for the wonders.
They are not all ready at once and when they are... use it.
Fresh is best, but it can be frozen as you may get a lot ready together. We used our rocket to make a lot of pesto and most of this was frozen to use at a later date.
Last tip from me, is that you should be bold and brave with what you have and grow. It is all fresh and healthy and reduces the amount of plastic used and means you are saving money too. Hooray!
GROW, GROW, GROW. Even if you don't have a garden, indoor boxes can be used too. Enjoy the journey.
The lockdown life has meant missing out on our favourite food places. At the start, the options were very limited. However, week by week we have more delivery options and the new craze has been the DIY kits.
I had to start off with a burger kit and was then luckily gifted a pizza kit. These are such great ideas as not only do you get restaurant quality ingredients, but also a step by step guide on how to make it. Lastly, a great reason to do this, is that it comes at a great price too.
As lockdown was about to start, I had a quick craving of Pizza Hut and had to get it.
Since then, I was surprised that in eight weeks I have only had takeaway/delivery only three times.
Delivery of fast food since lockdown has changed, mainly due to options being limited (restaurants closed and Enfield options aren't the greatest), but also because, as I am home more and I have more time to cook.
I take pride in being able to experiment, not wanting to waste food and using all of my cook books too.
Below is a quick review of the three takeaways that I have had in the last eight weeks.
This was an order from my wife. We haven't had Indian food for a while, so this option came up and we went for it.
We went for some of our usual faves such as a Mixed Grill, Butter Chicken and Sag aloo. All pleased the three of us (3 year old boy too) and we even had some leftovers the next day.
As a self pronounced foodie, I am learning a lot quickly.
However, I have still so much to learn.
Three main areas that I have realised I need to work on are: