Sunday, 30 August 2009

peacock at the rowsley

on bank holiday o and i were out in the peak district in derbyshire. our weekend splurge involved a three-course dinner at the peacock at rowsley. the dining hall is a simple rectangular room whose windows look out into a well-kept garden. one of the walls is painted a spring green lending freshness.

we start of with aperitifs in the bar and then make our way to the dining hall. once seated o and i are handed the dinner menu. we consult back and forth on our choices and eventually decide as follows – i start on a salad of a melon, berries and rum. it is beautifully presented with my melon sculpted in a rose shape served on a disc of watermelon and berries and cherries on the side. the dressing is of rum. it’s a quintessential summer salad and the fruit is very sweet and juicy. on the other side of the table o is tucking into a rather elaborate starter – a square of toasted brioche topped with a poached egg, a disc of warmed goats cheese, an asparagus spear and hollandaise sauce. for a person not so keen on goats cheese o looks quite satisfied and before i can say anything he tells me that the goats cheese is quite mellow and hasn’t over-powered the rest of the ingredients.

our entrée’s arrive and are once again beautifully presented. o’s is a classic british roast, slices of carved beef whose centre is a deep pink edges are seared a dark brown. with it is a yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and gravy. steamed vegetables bring up the side; bright carrot batons, peas and cauliflower with cheese. i have chosen sea bream that comes sitting on top of puy lentils – its skin is bring silver and glistens lightly. the sides have a length of warmed turmeric cream. the fish flakes easy and is full of flavour.

choosing dessert turns out to be a tricky affair as most of the choices are tempting. first both of us are tempted by the creamed rice pudding that comes with cherry preserves but we veto this choice as it’s something we can get pretty easily, all the time. next is the trio of ice cream that includes strawberry sorbet and passion fruit ice cream both of which are homemade. o also toys with the idea of white chocolate cheesecake with blueberry compote that i am not particularly keen on [i like the good old fashioned baked cheese-cake!]. then there is the lemon tart…but really i had already made up my mind on the sticky toffee pudding. and o after some mulling over chose the same. we couldn’t have chosen better. the pudding came served in a bowl, warm and a dark toffee in colour. there was a huge dollop of cream on top and thick toffee sauce all round. each bite revealed a dense toffee flavour with the zest of orange.

we finished on after-dinner coffee that was served with cream and milk and delectable hand-made truffles whose centres were liquid dark sea-salt caramel that oozed after the first bite.

Monday, 3 August 2009

roti & naans

i love roti, in all its shapes and forms - the laal mandari which is round, quite thick and made of wholemeal flour (strangely termed ‘laal atta’ which literally translated means red flour). then there is pateeri roti made of slightly fermented dough and is slightly thinner. roti’s white flour cousins are called naans - roghni is a round patterned one, sprinkled with sesame seeds and brushed with clarified butter as soon as it emerges from the tandoor. afghani naans tear away in long strips as they are long and linear hemmed in by a thick and very soft crust. stuffed naans are a meal unto themselves and are best enjoyed with yoghurt, plain or minted, the best is keema naan (minced meat). on my last visit to the tandoor mum and i stood in the sweltering heat and while we waited for our order of roti and naans to be prepared we couldn’t resist the temptation of a fresh roghni naan. fingers and tongues slightly scalded we tore bits and peices and ate, all the while grumbling about mid-meal snacking. to me roti from the tandoor is what warm bread is from the oven to europeans - or as euphorium bakers say, it is the simplest pleasure in life.