It’s not often we close the door and put the answerphone on during working hours Monday to Friday. We only did this once last year and that was the last Friday before Christmas. This year, we thought, well, it’s not massively busy, the shop can stay closed, it is raining horizontally, let’s go for lunch!
We had a couple of good reasons to go to lunch, if ever a reason was needed: we are 40% up this Jan on 2011 and so far 38% up on Feb 2011. Having said that, to put 2012 into context, the early part of 2011 was grim as it seemed the whole of the North of England was covered in 6ft of snow, which was not conducive to sales. Secondly, we are about to enter a busy period of cheese making and BRC auditing and I know from past experience that we are going to be quite pushed for the next 2-3 months, so why not take advantage of a quiet day.
So, to make ourselves feel less guilty about going out for lunch, Lydia had arranged in advance to do a cheese tasting with the Exec Chef at Simonstone Hall, a rather splendid huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ type lodge about a mile away or so from our little dairy. By the time we met her there, she was beaming and very pleased that Ribblesdale Cheese will now appear on their cheese board. Well done Lydia!
The Exec Chef, Hannah, has chosen our matured natural rinded goat and cow, unpasteurised Wensleydale, Blue Wensleydale and Tasty Wensleydale. They also plan to take our chutneys in 5kg pails. We are very chuffed!
Let’s talk about the food! Lydia had pate to start, Stu a huge helping of black pudding, hash brown and fried egg and I had prawn and crayfish tail martini with marie rose sauce. It was the shape of the glass, not the liquid variety! It was at this stage that I remembered that I had forgotten the camera. The other two looked mightily relieved and that is why we don’t have any photos.
For mains, Lydia had the duck, Stu an amazing steak and kidney pudding and I had haddock and chips. We washed it down with pots of tea and decaff coffee. As for my food, I can honestly say it was 10 times nicer than the Wensleydale Heifer, our Christmas lunch venue and a lot larger portions. I felt cheated there when I had a dainty, genteel piece of hake the size of a train ticket whilst the others tucked into outsized portions of fish and chips. It was my turn to have faultless fish and chips, really nice mushy peas and out of this world chips. I know I have not eaten that much in an awful long time.
And all three of us managed to sneak in a dessert: Lydia and I had warm chocolate brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce whilst Stu had a fresh fruit salad; excellent food and really good service and very nice, friendly people. It was lovely to take a break and do something relatively spontaneous and just a little bit naughty. I think all three of us had a great time. I am looking forward to a revisit!