The Apple Tree, West Bridgford, December 2016

Two pubs in one day? It’s a risk that you have to be prepared to take at this time of year ūüôā After a lovely lunch with my team at The Otter, tonight Mrs MOFAD and I were off to meet some friends for a birthday bash at another pub, this time¬†The Apple Tree in West Bridgford, where we were robbed in a pub quiz on a previous visit (with many of the same people who were here tonight).

Nothing inspiring on the pumps tonight. So into the fridges for a bottle of Hiver honey beer which I’d heard of a while ago but never had. Imagine taking a lager and stirring in a teaspoon of honey. You’d get this.

After a full lunch, I wanted to keep it light, so opted for the sea bass with “crushed” new potatoes (they looked more pulverised than crushed), beans and peas and a lemon beurre blanc sauce. Actually, I think the menu describes the potatoes as “buttery baby potato champ”, and they are certainly not that which is why I mistook them for crushed. It was a bit of a mess really.

No matter, this was not a fine dining experience, just some food with friends. The sea bass (the important bit) was good, not over cooked and the sauce worked well. Just a shame that the veg were just a bit meh, but after such a nice lunch I wasn’t all that bothered. The food was much better for me last time, although Mrs MOFAD had a very good chicken tikka makhani. When you have over 30 options on your main menu, it can be hard to make sure they are all coming out at their best.

Christmas 2016 beer ideas – Vibrant Forest brewery

Here we go again with another in this year’s series of beer gift ideas. Vibrant Forest have been on the go for a good few years now, I first came across them in 2015 when I had a pint of Cydonia at The Filly Inn, which was hoppy, fruity and delicious. They had my attention!

In 2016 they have been all over my radar, thanks to MOFAD drinking and camping companion Matt, who has kept several of us well stocked with their beers. We enjoyed some Bourbon Oktober in July, and a very vibrant Salted Liquorice Stout in September (it’s now called Cambrian Root (after the “Cambrian explosion” around 541 million years ago, when most major animal phyla appeared on Earth).

In October, we held our own mini beer festival, at which many VF beers made an appearance. We loved the smooth coffee notes of Umbral Abyss, the mellow tartness of Zuur, the piquancy of Black Forest and the very special Imperial Red IPA (Special Edition). I also enjoyed a Summit, a classic hoppy modern pale ale.

If you want to buy some, their brewery shop and bar is open on a Friday from 12pm until 6pm and Saturday from 11am until 3pm. They will also be open on the following days leading up to Christmas:

December 22: 11AM to 6PM
December 23: 11AM to 6PM
December 24: 11AM to 3PM

You can also buy online direct from the brewery via Eebria:-

The Otter, Kegworth, December 2016

The Otter in Kegworth is now my team’s¬†traditional team Xmas dinner venue. Every year I take my team out for Xmas lunch, a small token of appreciation for another year of hard work. I think it’s now 5 out of 7 years that we’ve been here. We tried a couple of other places, and they were nowhere near as good. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it, as The Fresh Prince wisely advised us.

The Otter in Kegworth is always warm and inviting, perfect for cold December days. Although, just like last year, this was not one of those. It was about 12C outside, which is welcome but still feels wrong. The canal-side location is great in summer but also looks nice on a sunny day like this.

It’s still a Vintage Inn and not much has changed in the last 12 months. They still¬†have an excellent online booking system which makes sorting out your reservation a doddle.

So let’s get on to today’s lunch. Pretty much the usual selection of ales. I did want the Purity IPA but it was off so it was Sharp’s Atlantic again, a good pale ale that is much better coming from a pump than a bottle.

A good selection of starters to choose from as usual, between us we had spiced roast carrot soup, pork & fig terrine, prawn & lobster cocktail and my choice was oven-baked button and portobello mushrooms in a garlic & mature cheddar sauce with a parsley & chestnut crust. It was very tasty.

If you think it looks familiar, that’s because it does. This was last year’s:-

Next up, the main course. Five things to choose from this year, but no-one went for the nut roast (lazy vegetarian cop out) or the sea bass (which looked tempting). We had the traditional turkey, with some of the trimmings, a sirloin steak , and a couple of slow-cooked short ribs of beef, with mash and a spiced vegetable fritter.

The beef was lovely and tender, falling off the bone and crisp and caramelised on the outside. Delicious. The spiced vegetable fritter was a good addition, although a little sneaky as it contained a slice of sprout. It was hidden by the spices but you could tell that evil was lurking.

Once again, if you think it looks familiar, that’s because I had pretty much the same thing last year. It was really tasty, which is why I had it again.

So finally, to dessert. Christmas pudding was of course available, as was a spiced plum and rhubarb crumble pie/tart. It has to be chocolate for me, chocolate orange torte with chocolate sauce, cream and strawberry. Full of chocolate and orange goodness, a dense texture although slightly crunchy/crispy.

Are you ready for last year’s? Yes, chocolate torte it was. Sometimes different is good, sometimes the same is what you want.

We all had a great time as usual and enjoyed the food. A great pub for your festive dining, and a great pub all year round!

Two hundred likes, like!

Another quick self-congratulatory post as we reach another small milestone. 200 WordPress “likes” where people “like” your post. I’m also approaching 500 posts and might even get there before the year is out if I catch up with some of the backlog.

I’ve now got reasonably up to date with my scribblings, but there are at least another 20 posts in the pipeline, plenty more to come from the ministry in 2017…