The Royal Redgate, December 2018

The pub is in Warwickshire, the pub car park is in Leicestershire (according to the boundary signts outside at least). It describes itself as the most central pub in England, and was awarded the “Country pub of the year” award by the “Living in the Shires” magazine.

It was our destination for Sunday lunch today, as we had taken some plants over to Mrs MOFAD’s sister’s new house, after her recent stay with us. It was also a chance to say hello to our former feline house guest Holly, who is adjusting to her third house in as many months.

As the pub is only a mile and a half away, it was the ideal choice for lunch. They serve the full menu on a Sunday lunchime alongside a choice of roasts (beef or chicken today). Between us we chose pies and a chicken burger, from the rather mucky menus (they really need a clean folks).

Five beer engines available, although only two populated, with Hobgoblin, and a Ringwood beer. This tells you that this is a Marston’s pub, which tells you that the beer will be meh. Lime and soda it was then, although this turned out to be £3 a pint – ouch!

The food arrived, and it was very nice. All of the pies came on plates, with chips and veg. My chicken burger came on a silly bread board. Maybe they only had 3 plates, so didn’t have one for me. It was very tasty, as were the pies that everyone else had (although they all left their greens!) Proper good pub chips too.

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We decided to have pudding, and as ever, the chocolate torte was the right choice, which Mrs MOFAD and I shared. Rich and dense, with a nice blob of pistachio ice cream, a hazelnut tuille sort of thing, and some crushed nuts too. And some saucy cheffy squiggles.

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A pleasant Sunday lunch, but clean up those menus please, and check your lime and soda pricing 🙂

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BBC Good Food Show Winter, The NEC, November 2018

So here we are again, the annual visit to the Good Food Show. A compressed trip this year, as we had a discounted ticket which meant you couldn’t get in before 11am, and Mrs MOFAD had an appointment with an aircraft this afternoon (off to Munich for work).

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Luckily, the show was smaller this year, so we managed to do everything in 4 hours. There seems to be a trend towards shrinking over the last few years, and there were so many producers missing. No Port of Lancaster smokehouse, no Dean’s Shortbread, no Geeta’s, no Debbie & Andrew’s. No White’s, no Wild, no Saucy Fish, no Yorkshire Provender.

The most startling thing was the lack of breweries. I think 2016 was probably the high point for this, whilst this year there were only 5 or 6. Barely any cider makers this year too. Still lots of gin dominating the drinks village. Good to see our friends at the Curry Sauce Co back again (and they are now available in Ocado too!)

I met some fellow ministers:-

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and as usual we sampled some good food and drink, the standard random selection of beer, cheese, apples, gin, chocolate, sausages, pears, biscuits, chutneys, sauces and chicken teryaki. Definitely a much smaller show this year, but we still returned with a decent haul (some items not pictured for reasons).

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Hotel Teatro, Denver, October 2018

A spooky evening and another quick Denver post. This evening picks up where this afternoon left off, networking with the people that I met at The Renaissance earlier on today, along with a few more who couldn’t make it, as they have only just rolled into town.

Another buffet meal, with the usual selection of meats, breads, salad bits and other things. There was an added tasty bonus here, lots of plates full of churros, the Spanish doughnut which is probably from Portugal by way of China. These were lovely, as they almost always are, crunchy and sprinkled with lightly spiced sugar.

Tonight I got to sample Sour Apricot from Dry Dock brewery in Aurora, Colorado. A nice balance of sweet apricots and sourness, tart and fruity with sourness from the brewing process. It went well with some nice bits of cheese from the buffet.

There was also a Tivoli Helles Lager, another Denver brewery, who are based on the Auraria College campus of Metropolitan State University in Denver. A very easy drinking lager with a very German taste, which is probably because it is brewed from entirely imported ingredients.

Finally a “Face Down Nitro Brown” from Telluride Brewing, also in Colorado. A bit of a hybrid of an English and American style brown ale (the beer that your Uncle drank in the 1970s) that is silky smooth and super malty.

Afterwards, I found out that this is a four time award winner, taking gold in 2012 and 2014, and bronze in 2016 at the Great American Beer Festival for “American Style Brown,” and also a gold at the 2012 World Beer Cup.

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A pleasant evening of chat and beer and food.

Renaissance Hotel, Denver, October 2018

Another quick post from Denver. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m here with the day job, which is in full flow today, with four different meetings in three different places downtown. Most of the day will be spent at the Renaissance, a Denver hotel that was built inside the former Colorado National Bank. During the renovation, they added two new floors to the building, whilst retaining most of its features, including the three-story atrium with classical marble colonnades and 16 large murals depicting the life of Native Americans on the plains. Three of the bank’s massive vaults were also retained, including the basement meeting room where we are spending some of the day. The thought of doing some kind of Ocean’s 11 re-enactment did cross our mind.

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The coffee was a bit ropey, but the buffet lunch (chicken legs, vol au vents, cheesecake) was not too bad, with some nice pizza (still warm from the oven), braised chicken breast and some salad and other bits.

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A nice hotel for a meeting, and it’s cool to explore all of the old bank vault bits and pieces. Oh, and they also had small TV screens inset into the mirrors in the toilets so you could watch ESPN Sports News (or whatever the equivalent of Sky Sports News is) whilst you wash your hands. Yes, they really did have those.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, California Street, Denver, October 2018

Another day, another chain restaurant. A seafood chain this time, and a few more people have gathered in Denver now, so we opted just to cross the road and go here. I can see it from my hotel room, so it was pretty inevitable.

As you might expect, there’s a lot of shrimp on the menu, but that’s not really my thing. Most of it is breaded and deep fried too. There’s also tilapia, salmon and mahi mahi. Alongside that there’s steak and ribs and a burger. I had the Texas chicken sandwich, deep fried chicken breast (super crispy batter), bacon, cheese, guacamole, chilli ancho mayo and fries. Oh and some limp shredded iceberg. And a nice tangy pickled gherkin. It was pretty good stuff.

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Another decent selection of beer, fast becoming a thing here in downtown Denver. My choice was Trail Beer by 10 Barrel Brewing Co, from Bend, Oregon. It was a tasty pale ale with notes of citrus and pine, and went nicely with the chicken. Later on, I discovered that this was another AB InBev beer, one of the portfolio of things that they’ve spent the last few years gobbling up.

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A decent dinner once more, in slightly odd neon tinged surroundings.

Henrys Tavern, 16th Street, Denver, October 2018

Another night, another bar full of wall to wall TVs showing a feast of sports. You certainly don’t need to miss any sporting action if you want to go out to eat in Denver. It’s everywhere.

Henry’s is a small chain which originated in Portland, but it was hard to tell it apart from Yard House, where we went last night. Not quite so many beers on tap, but still a decent selection, and a similar menu with the usual selection of burgers, tacos, pizzas, fish’n’chips and stir fries.

If I see a BBQ chicken pizza then I’m likely to have it, and that was the case here, BBQ marinated chicken, applewood smoked bacon and “sharp” cheddar (which didn’t lacerate my mouth).

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Another local beer to go with it, Upslope lager, malty with a crisp finish, brewed up the road in Boulder.

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Nothing remarkable about this place, but a perfectly pleasant place for a pizza and a pint (actual volume of pint may vary, because Americans have a smaller gallon, so if you have 1/8th of a gallon here it’s 473ml instead of 568ml). Oh, and there’s sport. World series again tonight.

Yard House, 16th Street, Denver, October 2018

The day job has brought me to Denver for a week. My first international solo trip which is hopefully going to be very rewarding. My research has told me that Denver is a city of beer, so I will be putting that to the test over the next few days, before getting down to some long American conference days (first session 7:30am, last session a networking event lasting until 10pm). There will be city exploration before then. And not so much humble bragging…

It’s a very convenient city from my first impressions. A train from the airport costs $9, and takes you to the heart of “downtown”. Although tonight, there was a replacement bus service for the last leg of the journey, on an absolutely roasting hot bus. It felt like a very British welcome, what could be more British than those three words “replacement bus service”?

After that, there’s a free bus that runs up and down 16th Street “The Mall” all day. When your hotel is on 15th Street, that’s very convenient. So, arrive at hotel, check in, find that the bill that was supposed to be pre-paid hasn’t been, sort that out (or so you think), and then go out for something to eat.

After strolling down 16th Street for a little while, my dining companion and I chose Yard House. This may have had something to do with its tagline “World’s largest selection of draft beer”. A bold claim indeed. I counted 108. That’s pretty good going.

It’s almost the same as the number of TV screens in here. It’s a Saturday night, and it’s wall to wall sports. NFL, NBA, College Football and the World Series of Rounders (lazy English derision of Baseball). Turn your head a few degrees and you can watch a different game every time, although only one audio stream is available (World Series tonight).

On to that beer then. How do you choose from 108? For me it was a choice of familiar favourite styles, and a dry hopped pale ale from Boulder Beer Company called Hazed & Infused won the day. Delightfully hoppy, easy drinking and fresh flavour. Enough to liven up the taste buds after 19 hours awake.

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Next up, some dinner. I’ve already eaten four meals and some snacks in this elongated day, but you have to adjust your body to a new timezone, so having another dinner is a nice way of doing that. Fried chicken is a popular dish on this continent, and I do love it when it’s done right, so I was drawn to it on the menu.

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A tasty, juicy piece of chicken, nice and crisp on the outside and served with creamed corn (not something I think I’ve had before), bbq beans (meh), spinach mashed potatoes and bourbon gravy.

The photos are a bit rubbish because this was one of those occasions where explaining the whole concept of The MOFAD was not on the agenda, so a quick snap was all that there was time for. Sadly there wasn’t time for more beer, because it was time for bed. There’s always tomorrow.

There’s definitely tomorrow.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……

PS – the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Boston Red Sox 3 – 2, in what turned out to be their only victory in the series.