Given that the beginning of the month is usually a bit minimal on the food front, due to the health regime promises we make to ourselves and the general lack of dosh, January for me was pretty tasty. Here are some of the most scrumptious bites.
An Italian Job
I was doing quite well on the healthy eating and drinking front at the beginning of the year, but half way through January it was my beloved fiancé’s birthday so what could I do but show my support and indulge? His parents ventured to the South West to celebrate with us for the weekend, so on the Friday evening my culinary skills were put to the test. What to cook for the in-laws? Lasagne of course! I thought it was a touch on the dry side myself but despite that it was pretty tasty and seemed to be a hit. Perhaps that was more due to it being washed down with a delicious bottle of Argentinian Malbec, kindly brought by our guests. Not a bad start to the weekend!
On the Saturday we continued the Italian theme with dinner at Carluccios. As it was a celebration we pushed the boat out with starters and Prosecco all round – I practically waddled out of the restaurant afterwards I was so full!
It was a delicious meal though and the service was as warm as the atmosphere – an ideal birthday experience. As my first course I chose Parma ham. They really do give you a plateful and the Buffalo mozzarella it was topped with was like no other I’d tasted before. It was so soft that it was almost more liquid than solid and the creaminess perfectly complimented the salt of the Proscuitto.
So after a mountain of ham, what do you think I chose for my main course? Fish maybe? A vegetable dish? Nope, I chose spaghetti carbonara. Yes, that’s right, a delicious creamy pasta dish laced with smokey pancetta. More ham! Not very imaginative I know, but it’s one of my favourite Italian dishes and I couldn’t resist. Just the right amount of sauce to coat the al dente pasta made this is fantastic choice.
You would think that at the ripe old age of…well, let’s just say that I’m in my thirties! So you’d think that as a food enthusiast and general piggie, by now I would have tried most types of cake. But when I met a friend recently in a Topsham cafe, I experienced a foodie-first: Lemon Meringue Cake.
I loved the lemon meringue pies my Mum made when I was little, but I’d never seen the refreshing, zesty ingredients applied in this way…perhaps I’ve led a sheltered cake life. The light and fluffy sandwich was cemented together with a zingy smooth curd and topped with a generous layer of lemon cream icing. What a refreshing revelation for my taste buds!
Lunch with a view
When a new pub or restaurant opens in the city I’m usually chomping at the bit to go and have a nosey. But the Samuel Jones down on Exeter quay opened way before Christmas and I’m ashamed to say I only made my first visit there at the end of January.
A low winter sun was blazing in the blue sky and shimmering on the river below. The place was packed inside and out, but we managed to squeeze onto a table near the bar. There wasn’t an extensive choice on the menu and as the waiting staff kept walking past holding dishes that weren’t on there, I presume there must have been a specials menu that we’d missed.
No matter though, the burgers we’d ordered were tasty as were the proper chunky chips on the side. My veggie burger was a tower of soft goats’ cheese with slices of roasted aubergine, pepper and pickled beetroot.
Very enjoyable and definitely a cool place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon. I’m looking forward to going back soon to try a Bailey’s latte. The brunch dishes looked enticing too. Hmm, I can see frequent visits to my new local happening over the next few weeks!
So there we have my not so lean start to the year. Well, you know what they say, start as you mean to go on!