Day Trip’n to Lincoln & Pub Lunch @ the Laboratory…

We had read an article in the Press a few weeks back that profiled the booming town or area of Lincoln, home to Canterbury’s esteemed Lincoln University. The boom has been happening post the earthquakes and seems to be on an uninterruptable rise with many folks escaping Christchurch for a more sedate, tranquil rural life. 

None of the Hounds could remember if we’d ever been to Lincoln, and if we had, we had complelely forgotten it…so on a recent gray, winter’s Friday we headed off for a visit.

It struck us as pretty much what was accurately descibed in the article, with lots & lots of new subdivisions going up like weeds, one pretty much indistinguishable from the other. The town centre had all the mod cons & required services (the library was super cool), including a decent choice of places for a drink & a bite to eat…We’d recently picked up the latest NeatPlaces pamphlet & the sweet description of The Laboratory ticked all the right food boxes and it is a craft beer joint to boot!

The Laboratory @ Lincoln… 

The Laboratory is the wonderful fruition of the blood, sweat and thousands of tears of Martin & Lisa Bennett who came to New Zealand to craft fine English style ales. The original incarnation for this effort was the Twisted Hop, which many folks will fondly remember on Poplar Lane. But like many CBD businesses, the earthquake was a fatal blow and while their partners moved on to re-open the Twisted Hop in Woolston, the Bennetts wanted to do something closer to home where they had settled down in New Zealand. And as fate would have it, in 2011 the Selwyn District Council approached them to be an anchor business in the new town centre plan. Bravo!

A Real Pub Feel…At Least Hound #1 Thought So…

Having lived in England from 2012 to 2015 (Hound #2 is 100% English), we had stuck our noses into a substantial number of pubs and this was mos def a pub! They even let Hound #1 in which certifies it as a pub in our books!

We had a quick perusal of the menu & as an early taste treat we opted for the Handcut Chips with Aioli ($9). Perfecto…hot & crisp and aioli heaven. We especially liked the serving cone – classic Kiwiana. Our beverages to accompany the chips: for me, a pint of the Twisted Hop’s Little Brother American Pale Ale ($9.50) and Hound #2 took the beer-less-travelled route & had a low alcohol Ha’Penny IPA ($9.50) which still was chocka with flavour. They have a more than decent selection of beers (both tap & bottle) to imbibe and please any hop preferences…

Even though we were very tempted by the wood-fired pizzas (we’d had our fill of pizzas that week), for our next course we decided to pick from the Small Plates & Salads menu. Hound #2 veered towards the Spiced Lamb Shoulder with Hummus & Yoghurt ($17) while the Braised Oxtail with Pappardelle & Parmesan ($14.50) was the ticket for me. We were both more than pleased with our respective selections and both plates were left spik’n span clean…we even used the left over flat breads to scrape up the residual tomato-y oxtail sauce!

Da Food: Top Left – Braised Oxtail with Pappardelle; Spiced Lamb Shoulder with Hummus & Yoghurt; and Super Chips & Aioli.

So if you fancy a tiki tour of the Lincoln area (Tai Tapu too – next blog post) and develop a bit of a thirst and some hunger that needs satisfied, The Laboratory will do you right…

KaiZaharra – Just Fancy Enough…

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Mesa with a View – That Be France Over Yonder…

It was Hound #2’s last day in Hondarribia before venturing back to the UK for a wee while so a menú del día was most def in the cards. She had scoped out a new place that had come highly recommended by an hombre we struck up a chat with over pintxos. So it was there we headed – only to be stymied by yet another Wednesday closing. Wednesday seems to be the Spanish or Basque restaurant siesta day…

Our back up plan was to try for the first time one of the places along the Bidasoa River & Harbour front – a place with a view. We scored a river side table at Kai Sahara, where the service is excellente! Quick, friendly and accommodating…

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The menú del día was short & sweet and only €16 – incluso of vino, coffee & dessert. Hound #3 decided to give the Sopa de Pescados a whirl as it seems to be an area specialty. We have attended 2 local jai lai events where a guest restaurant serves you food & each time it was a sopa de pescado, just like this one. Delicious….

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Sopa de Pescados

Hound #2 veered towards the Pasta del Día and she did not go wrong – the picture does not do it justice nor convey the wonderful flavours on that plate.

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Pasta del Dia

Our vino of choice these days tends to be 90% rosado or clarete (another blog post on that later). And this one from Bodegas Piedemonte was a winner – easy, easy quaffer.

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Chilled Rosado from Navarra

Healthy Hound #2 decided to go with the Bacalao con Tomate – another local area fish dish that seems to be on everyone’s menus. All gone…

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Bacalao con Tomate

And Hound #3 fell for an old time fave – Duck Confit a la Orange. Fenomenal! Very subtle orange sauce – just the way I like it. May have to eat a wee bit more of this duck confit as we are SO close to France.

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Confit of Duck a la Orange

And for dessert, Torrija Caramelizada con Crema Inglesa (very fitting name for an English girl’s dessert)…just what struck us both as a dessert thing we needed to try. No mistakes were made in the eating of this meal…

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Torrija Caramelizada con Crema Inglesa

 

Best Pizza in Frome…Castello Cucina Italiana

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If you are on a search for the best pizza in Frome, look no further than Castello Cucina – they know what they are doing in spades. They have a weekday (Monday to Friday) lunch offer of any pizza or pasta dish for just £5.95 – a deal to make you squeal! We had tried to take advantage of this offer one wet Friday afternoon, but at that time they were running the special from Monday to Thursday…damn.

So we vowed to come back, and we are very glad we did. Castello Cucina has now become one of our regular Frome haunts and we’ve not tasted any better pizzas. Out of town, At the Chapel in Bruton does several mean versions as they also employ a wood burning oven.

PIZZATossing

Round & Round the Dough Goes, Up in the Air…Nobody Knows.

On our last visit, we decided we needed to get out of our rut of a Margherita (for Hound #2) and the Parma (for Hound #3) & took the ‘Y’ in the road with the Diavola (devilish hints of heat & spice) and the Contadina (subtle goat cheese & rocket & onions).

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Diavola (top) and the Contadina (bottom) Pizzas….

And to top off the excellent food, the service at Castello Cusina is top notch – friendly, courteous and attentive. So make an extra effort to sample Castello’s fine food & be very happy a place like this calls Frome home.

 

Padstow Farm Shop – Top of the Line…

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When we are off wandering the British countryside, we make a concerted effort to check out the local produce. And an excellent way of doing that is to drop into the nearest farm shop. Farm shops are a relatively new phenomenon to the UK having taken wing about 10 or more years ago, and since then they have never looked back. We were fortunate on our West Country Tiki Tour to be in possession of the book “Wild Guide“, which besides pointing us to jaw dropping scenery & beaches or historical sites or places to stay, also listed many of the food stalls along our journey. And it had high praise for the Padstow Farm Shop (founded in 2006).

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When we enter a farm shop we often quickly pick up on a vibe and the vibe here was exceedingly good. Everything just seemed so right – and our intuition was 100% spot on as this place does farm shop in spades. Most of what they sell here comes from their own farm, and if not from their farm, then from farms within Cornwall. Much of the land is farmed under the Countryside Stewardship model – an environmental process where no sprays or fertilisers are employed. And the field margins are left uncultivated which creates a better habitat for rare species of plants & also encourages endangered wildlife such as the corn bunting, barn owl, grey partridge and hare. And to confirm the good vibe feel, Padstow Farm Shop & Farm have been named as South West regional winners in The RSPB Nature of Farming Awards for 2013. And the farm shop gets 100% of its electricity from a wind turbine – phew, what a vibe!

A quick tour… as you walk in through the front doors, you are greeted by a cornucopia of local produce in most excellent shape. Many a meal could be assembled from these baskets swollen with goods.

And just to the left of the veggie section is the Padstow Farm Shop’s own butchery where, again, locally reared meat is on offer where the majority comes from the Watson Smyth family farm (they own the joint).

PFSCheeseMeatAnd if you are looking to put together a summer picnic or host a BBQ for some friends, all the ingredients and top notch choices are found here – from wine to cider to cheese to sweets and crisps.

And a very special mention needs to be made of the Padstow Pasta from Cornwall as it is a unique product to the UK. As the photo below states, this pasta is made from home grown durum wheat which is then traditionally milled at The Cornish Mill & Bakehouse. And a very odd coincidence occurred as we were taking these photos, it suddenly dawned on us that we had actually won a bag of the Padstow Pasta in the Saturday Guardian’s Cook magazine contest. And it worked a treat too for a fine pasta dish….

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So if by luck or chance or planning you happen to be floating around the Padstow region, be sure to pay a visit to the Padstow Farm Shop & stock up…or order online.