Wednesday, February 17, 2010
One of the good things about living in Birmingham (apart from the family and friends over the road and just around the corner, the Balti Restaurants, when I can shake myself the best symphony hall in the country, and the fact that the place is in my blood and bones) is that you can get out of it very quickly into some of the loveliest bits of the country. From where we live it's only half an hour to the Cotswolds on a good day and you can't get much lovelier than that.
So off we went yesterday lunchtime; the sun was shining and Stewart had only scored a 6 on his I am edging into diabetes and have to go and have blood tests scores. Lunch was on the agenda. Our pub guides etc are all out of date and anyway I can't find them so we just pointed the car south and hoped for inspiration. You have to trundle through some boring bits but then South Warwickshire emerges and things look very much brighter.
After a few bends, we decided to do a very risky thing, go back to a pub that we knew had changed hands and that we used to love. It's in a village called Paxford, which oozes charm and no doubt wealth and it used to be run by the only black woman chef who was making it big in those days. She ran the Marsh Goose in Moreton as well. Being black and female and living in the Cotswolds, trying to make a go of things, can't have been easy but the food certainly helped. Most notable were the chips, she was double frying best Maris Piper before Heston was out of short trousers; we have since had double fried chips cooked in duck fat, which leave all contenders standing, in a market town close to our place in France, looks very similar to a Cotswolds town too; but the Paxford chips were nearly as good and certainly something to gladden the heart.
It always takes ages to find it but we did and there was a Michelin Pub Guide 2010 rosette in the window so that looked promising and apart from a change of pictures the place looked the same. The woman in charge now looks like the person who used to take your order in the old days, just older and taller; she was the same woman we discovered later so responsibility has clearly worked on her height. The staff and the other clientele were, as before a bit Cotswold posh, but at least there was no royalty, nor Kate Moss nor any Brummies in green wellies, so we should be thankful for small mercies.
Anyway the food was superb still and so were the chips; Stewart ordered the posh fish and chips (you know - beer batter and crushed peas) for his main along with a pint of Hook Norton (the good diabetes news was clearly going to his head) so, as he does not subscribe to the school of husbands that will part with a single chip if you have turned down the opportunity of ordering some, I had to order a dish of chips to go with my healthy butternut squash, leeks and goats cheese lasagne option. It was lovely and went beautifully with the chips, as did the two glasses of grassy Sauvignon I washed it all down with; and just the thing for a Shrove Tuesday when you might be soon be facing at least 40 days in the chemo wilderness.
We had a quick jaunt around Stow on the Wold and then back home to really stock up round at Jess and Tom's on lashings of traditional Shrove Tuesday pancakes oozing lemon and sugar. Harry told me to take my headband off my head as I wasn't bald yet and said he loved me and was glad I hadn't died in hospital. That I took to be the best Shrove Tuesday padding anyone could possibly wish for and I am sure it will keep me in good stead in a couple of weeks time when I head back to hospital and the next time and the next time, when the wilderness demons will be abroad and the chips will be well and truly down!