Happy National Pie Week!

Last week (March 6th to March 12th) was a week to celebrate the best of British pies. I went to Brewers Fayre to try their special Beef and Doom Bar Ale pudding, served with cheese and chive mashed potato, a mass of green beans and gravy.

Although it is more of an American treat, I saw this Moon Pie in So Sweet, Barnstaple. Moon Pie is similar to a Wagon Wheel but the biscuit base differs. This is a special Double Decker Moon Pie, a chocolate coated moon pie sandwich with marshmallow filling.

Hello Sushi!

I was looking for a birthday present idea when I stumbled on a tutorial for amigurumi sushi by NVKatherine.

I initially used the written tutorial pattern which is linked in the video description, but I would suggest using the video as it makes it so much clearer. The written tutorial didn’t make it clear that you had to make two pieces each for the toppings, so my pieces turned out a little different. However, it is generally an easy pattern (especially if you refer to the video tutorial), perfect if you are a crochet beginner.

So this is what I ended up making…what do you think?

Meiji Create-a-Gummy Sushi Bar

This is a DIY candy set from Meiji in which you can create your own gummy sushi pieces.

In the packet you get the pieces laid out. It is fairly easy to assemble, you just stick the gummy pieces together. The bottom layer gummies were stuck together in my set, so I had to get a fork to cut them apart.

The sushi pieces look cute and taste nice. The top pieces taste like strawberry and lemon. It isn’t as challenging or exciting as other DIY candy sets I have tried but it is easy to put together ans the end result is nice.

The Pelican, Barnstaple

The Pelican is a fish and chip restaurant and takeaway in Sticklepath, Barnstaple. It recently underwent a big redecoration in the restaurant in the last year or two, and it was runner up for a National Fish and Chip Shop Award!

This was the first time I went to try it, and I was expecting good things! There is quite a good selection on the menu – traditional things like cod, haddock, chips (their website actually offers all-you-can-eat chips if you run out!), as well as curries and fish pies. They do also have specials, although the waiter didn’t really promote them to us. The specials board says they have smoked haddock fish cakes using fresh, local fish delivered on that day. We shared the crab cakes and I had scampi and chips.

The crab cakes were ok, I wasn’t a big fan of them. The portion for a starter is quite large however.

The scampi was plentiful – normally most portion sizes I get are quite small, and there is lots of scampi meat (they use scampi whole tail). They were cooked just right and the chips were delicious – the right texture and not greasy unlike others I have eaten. I also took a quick bite from my partner’s cod and chips, and the batter is light and the fish looks and tastes fresh. Again, it wasn’t greasy.

We squeezed in room for a sweet. We had the Summer Berry Cheesecake and Mario’s Homemade Apple Pie. The portions were larger than I expected!

The cheesecake wasn’t the best I have had but the apple pie was nice. I wish there was an option to have it served with hot custard – that would have been even better!

Overall, the food was to a good standard and the price is not too expensive. The restaurant is beautiful, service is friendly and there is parking on site. The small criticisms I have is that some of the cutlery was dirty and the menus are sticky. Paying more attention to detail would make this experience even better.

Christmas Lunch at Thomas Carr at the Olive Room, Ilfracombe

Thomas Carr at the Olive Room was recently rewarded a Michelin Star for its use of fresh, local ingredients and superb flavours, and it is certainly very popular. I was wanting to try the food here, but the restaurant is currently closed at lunchtimes and closed on my only day off! So…I have been waiting a long time! On their Facebook page last year, they announced they had late cancellations for Christmas lunch, so why not try something different to your usual Christmas fare?

When you arrive, it is not what you would expect a Michelin Star restaurant to be like. It is quite a small restaurant, we almost drove past it! Inside there were only two other tables and the owner’s family seated for Christmas lunch. I can’t imagine a lot of people can be seated on a weekend night. The other Michelin restaurant I have visited was Castle Terrace Restaurant in Edinburgh, where the restaurant was huge, grand and the staff professionally trained. The Olive Room resembles a more smaller and cosier affair, where the staff are friendly and not afraid to talk to you.

The restaurant is simple and clean inside, and of course, decorated for Christmas! We had crackers on our table, complete with little toy and bad joke!

The restaurant is nothing fancy inside as I have said, so there seems to be a big emphasis on the food. After our drinks, we received some homemade bread with butter.

On Christmas Day, the restaurant was only serving a six course taster menu for £80 per person, so we were in for a long afternoon! We spent a good few hours here enjoying the food!

First up was some crab mayo on bacon and cheddar toast decorated with watercress and fresh apple. This was so delicious, I could have happily eaten more!

To follow, we had scallop with hogs pudding, artichoke crisps and artichoke foam. Again, the flavours and texture were divine!

Next, was a stone bass fillet with prawns, tempura squid rings and a bouillabaisse sauce. I wasn’t overly keen on the sauce, which had orange citrus flavours to it, but the seafood was cooked well, and the squid rings were lovely.

Afterwards, we ate the roast beef, served with potato truffle terrine, mushrooms and oxtail. The flavours were lovely, my only criticism is that we were asked how we wanted our beef to be cooked. Although we asked for medium, it came out very pink!

At this stage, we were feeling very full! But now was dessert time (with a pot of tea)! I am not normally a fan of lemon but this lemon posset was really nice. It was lemon jelly, under a lemon cream with biscuit crumbs topped off with a yoghurt sorbet. This also comes with a shortbread biscuit on the side.

Sadly, I couldn’t make it to the end and finish everything! The last dessert was a dark chocolate torte with burnt orange puree, honeycomb pieces and clotted ice cream. This is a nice dessert, very rich! However, I was too full to finish!

All in all, I enjoyed my visit. The restaurant fully deserves its Michelin star. The use of ingredients and combination of flavours is really inventive and tasty. It seems a lot of thought goes into every dish, and it is a credit to North Devon! Of course, the price is expensive, but average compared to other Michelin establishments.

I would like to return again, depending on their opening times, but I would probably opt for ordering off the standard menu rather than the tasting menu. I would definitely recommend The Olive Room to those who are visiting or live near Ilfracombe! Fantastic food and service!

Christmas Decorations in Barnstaple

I am always fascinated with Christmas decorations and how people use their imagination to create amazing displays that capture the Christmas spirit. These pictures are from Barnstaple, Devon.

Every year, Green Lanes shopping centre hosts a Santa’s Grotto for children. They are always elaborately decorated, and last year was no exception! They created a beautiful winter wonderland from the Artic.

I particularly like the penguin who got his head stuck in the snow!

The high street was decorated with twinkling orbs throughout.

In Joules, they had a winter mouse looking for Father Christmas.

Just Trio always have fantastic Christmas displays and I admire the effort they go to. In one window, they had a gingerbread house…

Squirrels playing in the snow…

Flying polar bear over a snowcapped town…

Polar bear and a Christmas wreath…and Christmas flamingos!…