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Archive for July, 2010

One of the advantages of occasionally working from home is managing to get more done in a morning than you could ever hope to achieve in an entire day in the office. Another advantage is being able to have lunch with your wife. I might often spend £10 a day on a paper, coffees and lunch so attempted to stick as close to that as possible. After 20 minutes sniffing around the net i’d come up with a few options and eventually picked two courses at the Bell Hotel in Sandwich for £11.95. Ding dong.  These offers do, however, always involve some form of compromise and as we set sail for the port of Sandwich we braced ourselves for a very short menu, small portions and cheap ingredients. We arrived. They didn’t. My impressive starter of sea trout tartare, cucumber gazpacho, horseradish and lime shouted summer, whilst the ham terrine with tomato chutney, quickly vanishing across the table, brought a smile to Mrs G’s lovely mush. These were quickly followed by rump of lamb with smoked potato puree, baby courgettes and rosemary jus for me, and plaice with butter and new pots for her. Mine was superb. It’s normally only onions that bring a tear to my eye but today an exquisite courgette had me reaching for the hankies. The lamb was quite prefect, each mouthful a pleasure. No weeping from Mrs G – she’s a toughie – but a thumbs up all the same. Now my wife loves her desserts and was mesmerized throughout lunch by the numerous raspberry creme brulees (with almond shortbread) passing the table. So many went by that I couldn’t believe they hadn’t run out. Just before she ordered hers they did. Dong! Dong! How she didn’t cry I will never know. The cream cake pick-up en route home helped, but I know it will be a long time before that culinary scar has healed. As I type, sitting at my London desk, I’m pondering how I might convince my bosses to open a Thanet office. Maybe I’ll send them a link to my blog, that should do the trick.

NB If you have a third course it will be £14.95

Upper Strand Street, Sandwich, Kent, CT13 9EF, 01304 613388.

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Oh! I do like to eat beside the seaside, and with the summer months now upon us I can do it regularly. How better to start the weekend than with a relaxing morning alongside some calming water? The stresses of the past week just float away. With a brisk walk under my creaking belt it’s exactly the right time to order a bacon sarnie, sit down with a paper and (admire) the world going about its business. The only work I have to do is decide where I’m going to tuck in. With so much excellent coastline and an abundance of cafes and kiosks this is always a pleasant dilemma. For the purpose of this article I decided to visit four untried bacon peddlers. The first stop for me and my guinea pigs was Derek’s at Louisa Bay. Being closest to Chez Gannet I’d made a few coffee stops in the past but hadn’t chosen to order any food until now. Two bacon sandwiches later and Mrs. G, the Monkey and I were feeling rather content. This would be tough to beat. Thick white bread, good butter coverage, decent quality bacon, proper ketchup and a nice location. Next week it was the Jet ski Café in Margate. It’s the biggest, newest and liveliest of them all, offering the most varied menu. No use to me though, as I’m only here for the bacon, which, I’m sorry to say, tasted of onions and was a tad too greasy. Mrs. G’s was onion-free so I guess it was just a bit of bad luck. It also felt a little odd sitting in a car park eating my breakfast. The third week involved a trip to Saddle Sore at Pegwell. I’ve always wanted to stop here, so expectations were high. It was ok but didn’t quite stack up to its forerunners. I did, however, notice some great looking chips that will be enjoyed at a later date. Monkey loved driving the toy vehicles dotted around and was rather tearful when our departure curtailed her joyriding. The month of bacon was brought to a close by a trip to Westgate. We intended to visit Pav’s but it was so ridiculously busy that we jumped ship and went next door to St Mildred’s Cafe The bacon was plentiful and well cooked. The bread was okay but certainly not up to the high standard of Derek’s. There are still many places I need to try out but based on these excursions Louisa Bay will be the place you’re most likely to find me pawing through ketchup-covered supplements with a satisfied smile on my face. Oh! I do like to eat beside the sea.

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“The next station is Canterbury West.” I hear that seductive line 10 times a week and for once I decided to give in. It was a balmy Friday evening when I stepped down onto the platform to meet my wife. The sunshine worked its magic and made everything seem that much better.  It was our own Brief Encounter. I, a rotund, bearded and chipper Trevor Howard. Mrs. G a pregnant, radiant and rather peckish Celia Johnson. Once the steam had cleared we walked the short distance to the Goods Shed hand in hand. It’s an impressive building that comes alive with diners once the farmer’s market punters have carted their rations home. We were seated by one of the immense windows overlooking the track and watched the night quickly descend whilst we happily chatted about our day. A visit to the communal blackboard announced that there were five starters and a six mains on offer, any of which I’d have been happy to receive. I eventually favoured the smoked trout on toast with duck egg and asparagus (£7.50) proceeded by the slow cooked belly pork with spiced apple sauce, garlic roast potatoes and more asparagus (£15.00).  Mrs G had scallops with black pudding and a bean salad (£9.00) and then the Cod fillet with smoked mussel butter, roast potatoes and asparagus (£15.00). All the dishes are well presented, contain local produce and are large enough that you may well struggle to get through three courses. Mrs G just about managed it, but she is, as she so often points out, eating for two. The food was of a very good standard although some elements were tepid rather than hot and I would have greatly appreciated knowing that my choice of dishes would mean my eating asparagus twice that evening. Neither of us were drinking but a nose through the wine list offered up acceptable bottles from £13.50, some gems around the £20 mark or if you fancy bringing your own then they will charge a corkage of £7.50, a very tempting offer. The golden age of steam may be long dead but the golden age of cooking is alive and waiting for you to get on board at Canterbury West.

Station Road West, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 8AN, 01227 459153.

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