Joiners Arms, Bakewell, July 2019

Bakewell has been crying out for a decent pub for a long while. For somewhere that’s the home of the Thornbridge brewery, you’d expect something a little better than some Greene King and Marston’s houses, but that’s what you’ve had to put up with.

Until May 2019, when the Joiners Arms opened its doors for the first time, serving 6 cask lines of local and further afield beer, alongside 6 keg lines which included on opening night (and still do today) Pravha, Staropramen and Aspall’s cider. We’ll come back to them later.

The Joiners Arms is cast in the classic micropub mould, a nice minimalist design based around joinery (I love the planes inset into the bar). It’s all about the beer, which is kept in excellent condition. Food wise, there are some crisps, nuts and other small snacks around, and they have a selection of wines and smaller batch gins as well as soft drinks for those not wanting a beer. They are dog friendly too, with free snacks for your canine companions, and a water bowl for them as well.

I spent a few hours here (with a break for fish’n’chips down by the river) with regular MOFAD drinking companion Steve, and much less regular drinking companion (and friend to badgers everywhere) Andy. Our fourth member was unwell so had stayed back at base.

In different orders, we worked our way across all of the cask ales. The keg lines were ignored, as two of them were empty, one had Thornbridge Satzuma (a permanent fixture, which some of us had yesterday), and the other three contained the offerings mentioned above. On a weekend, you’d expect all of the keg lines to be in action, so it was a shame to miss out on some potential bangers. The cask line up was pretty decent though, so let’s explore what we sampled.

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I started out with West of the Sun from nearby Torrside Brewing, a lovely NZ hop profile coming through. Fruity hoppiness continued with Downdays from Rivington Brewing Co which was mellow and superbly sessionable. A more familiar name came next, Deception from the just over the border Abbeydale Brewery. A classic showcase of another New Zealand hop, Nelson Sauvin.

After our lunch break, the final three beers, all of which were familiar to me. My third encounter with Hawkshead Red, sweet maltiness and much better on cask than the bottled versions that I’d had a few years ago.

I passed on the Jaipur as I’ve had it (and variants like Jaipur X and Dry Hopped Jaipur) many times. That left one more beer, Lucaria from Thornbridge, which I had twice. I first had it back in December 2016, and remember it fondly as chocolate ice cream in a glass, a smooth, milky vanilla porter. There are now four other variants (strawberry, salted caramel, rocky road and mint choc chip, which sounds like old Thornbridge favourite Baize).

It was a nice way to round off our afternoon in the Joiners Arms, which is a pleasant micropub in the centre of Bakewell. You can’t miss it, it’s on the big roundabout on the A6, and passengers in cars can spot you as they pass.

I think the lady behind the bar was having a bit of an off day today, since she got very confused when being offered £11 to pay for £6 worth of drinks.

If I still had time to do my pub of the month round ups, this would definitely be in contention for July 2019. Given that I’m 18 months behind with that, I can’t see them coming back any time soon I’m afraid!

Hey you, up in the sky…

Not the first appearance of plane food in these pages. That was back during the New Zealand adventure in 2016, when Air New Zealand earned the MOFAD seal of approval. Today’s BA flight to Denver was less impressive, with a token curry (chicken tikka-ish type thing), and a chicken mayonnaise sandwich just before we landed. Another one that required a saladectomy to remove

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There was a tasty bonus in the middle of the night/flight (depending on which timezone you imagine this happening in). A mid-air Magnum!

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A nice cooling snack to enjoy between films. I managed three on today’s flight, Deadpool 2, Avengers : Infinity War and Solo : A Star Wars Story. The films were better than the food. At this point I’ve been awake for 17 hours…

The Swan Inn visit #2, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire, August 2018

I’ve said pretty much everything I need to about this pub with Saturday night’s post. We booked the table tonight whilst we were finishing our dinner on Saturday night, which pretty much sums things up. Before we have a quick gander at tonight’s dinner, a quick note on poncy menu pricing. I’ve mentioned this before, but if something costs £6.50, please display it on the menu as £6.50 not 6 1/2. I don’t want to be told that a pudding is 7 3/4, it is £7.75 – why the need for fractions? What does it achieve apart from annoying people?

Anyway, on to dinner, and another beautifully kept pint, this time Butty Bach from Wye Valley Brewery, a classic malty bitter. And in a proper dimple pot too.

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More amuse bouche crisps soon came our way…

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For main course, something a bit different for me, hot smoked salmon nicoise salad. After the glory of Saturday night’s steak, I had to make a hard decision not to have that again, but it was a good decision as this salad was also glorious. And that’s not something I often say about salads!

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Mrs MOFAD had rack of lamb with polenta (another first) and that was also delicious.

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Another pudding was in order after more exertions on bikes and on foot today, so this dark chocolate and seville orange fondant with walnut and hazelnut granola and grand marnier and orange ice cream was an indulgent delight, melting in the middle.

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A second great meal at this great village pub. If we’re ever in the area again we’ll come here again.

The Beehive, Combs, Derbyshire, July 2017 #2

As foretold yesterday, we are back again. A little more tired today, as we have been doing one of our walks, and we have certainly earned some sustenance today. Not as hard earned as some of the dinners after the walks we have done as part of these circuits, but still a just reward for our efforts.

On to drinks, and if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it. Which is another way of saying that there were no new ales on (despite our efforts to empty the Mobberley cask yesterday) so it was more of the same.

Back to the specials board again, and it’s time for spot the difference from last night. There are 2 changes. A new soup, and the chicken special replaced by lamb.

The lamb was very tempting, but I was going fishy again, with the last of the char grilled marlin, with lemon and asparagus risotto.

This was not bad, but I always expect a risotto to be amazing, because of the amount of care and effort that should go into it. I find that making risotto is quite a therapeutic thing, you take your time and make a lovely dinner. It’s just stirring at the end of the day, but that process produces great results. So when you get one that’s just ok, it can feel like a bit of a let down.

The second matter in hand, is whether to flake the fish and distribute it throughout the dish, or plonk a lump on top. The flaked option can feel more like paella, but the plonked option does feel a bit like an afterthought. Mrs MOFAD had a pork stroganoff which was very nice.

It was soon time for pudding, with this ice cream sundae/knickerbocker glory concoction.

Sweet and delicious. Just like last night, another pint of that tasty Mobberley ale appeared to accompany proceedings. Yet another pleasant evening in the Beehive. Hopefully another walking weekend will bring us this way soon, lovely place.

The Apple Pie, Ambleside, June 2017

An Ambleside institution.

We have been visiting the Apple Pie on and off ever since we’ve been visiting Ambleside. If there’s ever a day when we’re not out on the fells (usually due to inclement weather), you’ll find us having lunch at The Apple Pie. Named after their famous apple pie, they also do sandwiches, pies, quiches, salads and other items, as well as various hot drinks and soft drinks, and a few local beers.

There are many great places to eat in Ambleside, but this is usually the only place where you see people queuing out of the door on a weekday lunchtime. That was the case today, with a 5-10 minute wait for tables, but everyone in the queue happy to wait for their table. Once seated, service was quick and food arrived swiftly.

Inside the pie things have changed around a lot over the years. The front entrance and counter are still pretty much unchanged (you can still get your takeaway and bakery items from the main counter). There are no tables in the front area any more, and no more seating upstairs. Things have changed out the back too, with tables moving around and new seating areas created, as well as kitchen areas where toilets used to be and various other changes. They are not ones for standing still. You can also stay at the Pie if you want to.

Like the premises, the filled roll (sandwich) line up has changed over the years. The Thai chicken used to be one of our favouries, today that is replaced by the “spicy chicken” which has mayo, mango chutney, cream and various spices to make a nice sandwich filling, along with a good filling of salad (including beetroot which so many places shy away from).

As we’ve walked plenty of miles this week, we treated ourselves to the famous apple pie (although the mixed spice and sultana version had sold out) with ice cream.

Delicious, and a lovely Friday lunchtime treat. The ice cream to remind us it is summer (we’ve had some scorching days this week) and the warm pie to combat the cool drizzle of today.

The Apple Pie is a must visit if you are in Ambleside.

Joy Ice Cream, Quay Street, Auckland

What is one of the first things you want when you arrive on holiday? Particularly if you’ve left temperatures of 5 degrees behind, and arrived to bright sunshine and 25 degrees.

So you go to your hotel room, unpack, have a shower, and then start exploring a new city centre. You walk down to the harbour (if your city happens to have one). And you hunt for ice cream. Auckland’s harbour is pretty famous – this is where the French intelligence services sank the Rainbow Warrior in July 1985, the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, which was on the way to protest against a planned French nuclear test.

Enough of the darkness of modern history, let’s get an ice cream, a lovely rum’n’raisin cone, thick and creamy and perfect for cooling down in the southern hemisphere sunshine. That first holiday ice cream is often the tastiest!

And there’s a comedy cow outside. Obviously.