I've decided that springtime in England is magical. I am sure I wasn't the first person to make this discovery. It has been several years since I have been in England in the spring. Lambs and calves roam the rolling hills. Speckled eggs waiting to hatch lay in nests nestled in hiding places. Daffodils and tulips bloom everywhere. The green of the hedges and hills is surreal. It's still a bit chilly and rainy but on those occasions when the sun pops out and everything warms up suddenly, it's like you have been transported to heaven. Everyone smiles when the sun comes out.
We have been eating all of the amazing food I had hoped we would eat. The day after we arrived, we had a big family feast. It was one of those perfect days when the sun was shining down and making everyone so warm. We ate spinach pie, potatoes, salad, peas, and treacle tart with custard. Claud's parents, siblings, aunts and uncles were all there. The kids rode horses and jumped on the trampoline. It was a perfect lunch.
Then, I had the most delicious Indian food in Newbury. I ordered two dishes because I couldn't decide on one. I figured I could take some home with me but instead I was able to eat it all in one sitting. They have these big chunks of cottage cheese but it isn't like the cottage cheese I would expect it to be. Instead, it is big chunks of cheese. The Indian cottage cheese is the best. In London, we ate lobster with noodles at a Chinese restaurant. Chinese lobster and noodles is really different and very delicious. That was a new dish for me. We ate Mexican food at our friend's restaurant, "El Camion." If you are ever in London, you have to visit this Mexican restaurant. There are two of them: one in Soho and the other in Portabello. Everything is so delicious there and believe me, I almost tried everything. I sipped a "Pink Chihuahah" at the Soho restaurant and Claud discovered his new favorite drink, "the Bramble."
Mint adds a subtle brightness to new potatoes.
Fresh mint from an English country garden
Steak dinner with new potatoes and mint
Right now, I am sitting in a beautiful cottage in Dorset. We are near the seaside. Out the window, I can see rolling hills and hedges. There are cows grazing near a lake. The sun is trying to shine through the clouds. Pink, yellow, and red tulips dot the hills. Yesterday, I saw my first primrose. They are so delicate and beautiful and right now they are covering the countryside. Dorset is my favorite place in England. They have delicious seafood and the beaches are fun and lovely. On Sundays they have a massive car boot sale, which is like a swap meet but traditionally people sold their goods from the trunk or "boot" of their car.
Yesterday, I ate fish and chips. It was too cold to eat it from the stands outside that line the seaside. Instead, we opted for the sit down restaurant where it was warm and cozy. The fish and chips arrived and the fish was not battered. Although the tartar sauce was super delicious and the fish was tender and perfect, it wasn't that traditional version of fish and chips I was expecting. So, I will be going back into Bridport today to have some more. A friend last night told me that Crewkerne has the best fish and chips. I'll probably find that town.
We have been cooking amazing meals in the cottage. Last night we ate mini tostadas with tiny corn tortillas, cheese, black beans, sour cream, extremely hot sauce, and cilantro. That was such a treat. We came home from the beach and our friend, Sage, had it all ready to go on the table. I must have eaten one thousand of those tiny tostadas. They were so good! Yesterday, I made a full English breakfast for everyone in the cottage. I had real English pork sausages and thick English bacon to use. Claud tells me that it is never quite the same in the United States. He seemed really pleased with his heaping plate of eggs, sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast and beans. I had fun making it.
New Potatoes With Mint Recipe
15 small new potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes in a large pot of water. Let the potatoes cook until they are tender to a fork (about 30 minutes). Drain the water and cut the potatoes in half. Add the butter, onion, mint and mix well. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
The first night we arrived here in Dorset, we noticed a beautiful herb garden just outside the door. We stopped at the grocery store on our way to the cottage. Claud picked out some rib eye steaks for dinner. I chose the snow peas and some beautiful small new potatoes. Inside the cottage, there is an amazing old fireplace, which is also a bread oven, has a kettle to boil water and some grills to cook meat. It's amazing! We cooked the steaks on the grill in the fireplace. As I began boiling the potatoes, Claud ran outside to pick some mint for the potatoes. "Mint?" I asked. He said, "My dad always adds mint to the potatoes." I had never heard of adding mint to the potatoes but it sounded like a spring dish. Claud cut up the cooked potatoes, added butter, diced onions, salt and pepper and mint. We all sat down once the steaks were cooked. I really loved the minty potatoes. The mint was subtle, not overpowering. It was the perfect complement to an English springtime meal.
Well, I managed to make another trip revolve around food. I just can't help it. I am going to go now and find those perfect fish and chips before it's too late. Cheers!