Leaving London early on a Friday afternoon. One of life’s smuggest rituals. Leaving the office early too, even more smug but not without equal pangs of relief and grief. However, a few minutes is all that’s needed for the “oh I should really be in that meeting” to quickly fade when you are hashtag winning by beating the rush hour traffic and train queues.
This mundane state of bliss was Jimmy and I last weekend. We ventured up to Northumberland for a countryside weekend. Incidentally this is the first out of 2 weekends we are to spend ‘yup neeerth’. The second being Yorkshire in a few weeks.
I love retreating out of the big smoke and into the rolling countryside. The very sight of wide open fields for miles and miles makes me think…the world is okay. We aren’t heading into a state of panic and world implosion from mass overcrowding and over population, look at all this space! For me it the most reassuring journey I can take.
To add even more kudos to this I have noticed, especially in the past few years, the food and restaurant choices in rural Britain have become some of the best in our country. This wasn’t always the case. The 90s and 00s was all Beauchamp Place and eating a tomato and Mozzarella salad with Kate Moss in San Lorenzo. OR for a more gastronomic experience it was 2 day marinated duck with a few Michelin Stars at La Gavroche in Mayfair.
Now its weekends away to Le Manoir in Great Milton Oxford, the Fat Duck in Bray or The Hand and Flowers in Marlow for some triple cooked chips. Rural Britain is booming when it comes to food.
This is not the same in other European (can I still say that?) countries. Take France for example. You just don’t get the same quality food and restaurants in the rural areas as you do in the seemingly busier towns. I’ve looked, and tried and failed miserably many times to find anything.
In fact, I actually don’t think you get good quality food generally in France anymore. France to their food is like how the Brits are to inventions, both are living off former glories. The brits continue to harp back to the good old days of the industrial revolution where Britain steamed (no pun intended) ahead with rail road tracks and factories. Then there’s France and its Le Cordon Bleu training school opened in 1895 and its best chefs in the world alongside the Michelin Star food scheme.
Nowadays inventors are called entrepreneurs and inhabit Palo Alto creating digital worlds beyond my comprehension and Japan tops the chart for the most Michelin stars. So maybe both countries aren’t worlds apart as both would like to believe…
Anyway, back to my country weekend.
We were staying half an hour outside Newcastle. Sadly, we weren’t able to venture into the toon but I have been before and although it intrigues me hugely, I am glad I was able to explore other areas.
On Saturday, we went on what couldn’t have been more of an English/tourist/middle class activity. A castle tour. Alnwick and Bamugh Castle + gardens (can’t forget the gardens) and ending up in a local restaurant Jimmy found inside the village of Bamburgh called The Potted Lobster. We optimised the townie in the country vibe. We were even wearing matching navy zip fleeces and I was carrying a trendy Mulberry silver croc bag. Talk about living the stereotype.
We sat down and looked at the menu.
Everything we wanted to eat and more. Why? Because it was all fresh and fishy and honest and, well, so British seaside. I could almost taste the crunchy accident sand in my mouth like when you are a child making castles out of buckets.
I went for the carrot soup and crusty bread to start, whilst Jimmy had potted lobster. Simple and warming like a big hot vegetable hug in a bowl.
I then had one of the specials which was halibut and homemade tata hollandaise sauce (genius) to which I ordered some parmesan and truffle chips for the side.
Jimmy had dover sole. Both fish were cooked to perfection. Silky flesh that was pillowy and luxurious in every possible way.
It was in this moment I realised that what may be insignificant to some, is pure luxury to me. Like simplicity. Simple things done well. Or even loneliness is luxury. Me and Jimmy with no one else around, be it on a beach, in a cinema, driving on the road. What could be more blissful than unaccounted for privacy. Simple and uncomplicated is luxury and the Potted Lobster is a true example of this. Not too crowded. Nothing fake, nothing fancy.
To end Jimmy had the lemon tart. I questioned whether this would have been made in house (not quite sure why as I didn’t even eat it) but apparently it was. Blow torched topping with oozy tart sharp lemon mixture underneath and crumbly base (a little soggy) but it didn’t matter.
Gosh. It’s one of the luckiest moments I have ever felt. Sitting opposite my love, eating delicious warming feel good food having been previously culturally fed too.
It was then I had a thought. Why would I ever go back to London. What possibly could I want there that I can’t get here? Maybe my upcoming booking at Cornerstone? On second thoughts, I best head back.
Rating: (0-5) ***