Dodd’s, Ambleside, August 2017

It usually takes about 3 minutes to walk here when we stay in Ambleside. Regular readers may recognise Dodd’s as it has appeared here twice, at either end of 2016.

Today it took us 7 hours to get here from Brothers Water. Via Middle Dodd and Red Screes. So we didn’t take the easy route. Because there isn’t an easy route. There are mountains in the way, so you have to go up and over them. Particularly if you are bagging Wainwrights.

This was the view from Red Screes earlier on this afternoon.

Once we had arrived in Ambleside, it was a simple choice.

“Pizza?”

“Pizza”

That means Dodd’s. We always come here for pizza. I always have the same beer:-

The good thing about nerdy beer app Untappd is that it can tell you things like this. It tells me that I’ve had Brathay Gold three times. All at Dodd’s. It’s obviously a head turner, as the man at the next table wanted to check it out, and was soon ordering one for himself.

Same same!

In keeping with the “same, same” theme, I had the same pizza. I always have the Cumbrian, because it is delicious. Breakfast on a pizza. Slices of Cumberland sausage, pancetta and a local cheese, all topped off with a fried egg. The egg on a pizza always creates divisions amongst MOFAD fans – there are many who turn their noses up at the idea but it really works. I always save it until last as it’s the best bit!

Same same!

It’s fair to say that we’ve earnt a pudding today, this fruity take on a tiramisu had Mrs MOFAD’s eyes lighting up!

We had soon demolished it. Out of the corner of Mrs MOFAD’s eye, she had spotted a taxi arriving at the Market Cross where the taxi rank is, so we paid up and headed for that. We were soon speeding up “The Struggle”, down the Kirkstone pass, and back to the camp site in no time at all. It was certainly an easier journey than the one that got us here ūüôā

Another lovely visit to Dodd’s, next time it might be an easier journey though.

Advertisements

Sours night, The Needle & Pin, Loughborough, June 2017

Yes, it’s another “night” at the N&P. The latest in a long line of great evening events, including Belgian night, dark beer night, Thornbridge night, IPA night and the original (and messiest) craft beer tasting evening.

Tonight was the rearranged sours night, a month later than planned due to Sean’s man flu which caused the postponement of the original date. The best things come to those who wait, and wait we did, for the new date a month later. Mrs MOFAD was here again tonight, as sour beers are very much her thing. We were also joined by regular MOFAD companion Alec, and managed to have a table all to ourselves.

We started the night a little early, with pizza (from Peter as ever) and a beer from the bar.  This was a Platinum Blonde from Byatts, light and refreshing bitterness.

And this was a tasty pizza as usual:-

On to the main event, the sours. We began our journey with a very refreshing little number, a super sunny summer time beer, Jasmine Dragon from Dugges. Subtle jasmine notes, very nice. These Swedes know what they are doing…

Beer number two was standard saison stuff from Wylam, in the form of Le Saisonnier. The label hints at subtle rosemary and lemon balm flavours, but they were too subtle for me, because I couldn’t find them anywhere in here.

Snacks started to arrive next, humous and breadsticks first. We moved on to a “wild card” beer next, which Sean added in to the line up late in the day. Duchesse de Bourgogne is a beer that we have both come across before, in the famous Eagle pub in Cambridge (where Watson & Crick first announced their discoveries around DNA). Mrs MOFAD hated it (vinegary coke) but I quite liked it. That continued tonight, as I enjoyed the sweet, sharp and sour funky cola flavours, and Mrs MOFAD did hop face once more, despite no hop profile. Hop face appears when an unpleasant flavour is encountered.

Back to the plan next, and we journey up the A515 (or A6) to visit our friends at Buxton. In fact, you will notice the next beer in my haul from our last visit:-

img_6733

Superluminal is a collaboration with Stillwater, and they has produced a sour IPA. What you get is enoromous grapefruit flavour, but no hoppiness. Even Mrs MOFAD quite liked this one, the first time she has said that about an IPA.

Another wild card next. Vandervelden 135 Oude Geuze Vielle¬†is a geuze released to honour the founding of Oud Beersel in 1882. It was released in the spring of 2017 and is a blend of a 1-year old lambic aged in 30-year old Tuscan Brunello di Montalcino barrels and a 3-year old lambic aged in Beersel’s own foudres. I’d already pre-ordered a bottle of this, so it was nice to “try before you buy”. It has a best before date of 20 years hence, so I can safely cellar mine for a little while. I’m going to do just that, it was like a champagne amongst beers. It also went very well with a subtle goats cheese.

We return to the plan with another collaboration, NxSE, a joint effort from Gypsy Hill (the SE), and North Brew Co (the N), who have made a kettle soured raspberry beer. This was full of raspberry tartness and no sugary nonsense. Lovely stuff.

We move on to one of my favourites, mostly for the flavour, but partly for the artwork, which appears to feature Calculon (the acting robot from Futurama). Wild Weather make great beers, and they also do great names and artwork (cf. Curse of Threepwood and its Monkey Island homage). Dark of Ages Past was a lovely blueberry beer, which matched perfectly with Rebecca’s chocolate and cherry brownies, which complemented the sweetness of the beer very well.

We end on something more subtle, Morello Cherry Gose from One Mile End, very subtle cherry flavours and a hint of saltiness.

Another great “night” at the N&P. It’s been quite a journey from that inaugural craft beer night, and a sold out sours night shows that local drinkers are ready to explore all kinds of areas on their beer journeys. Looking forward to the next one, whatever it may be.

The Crown, Coniston, June 2017

We got here eventually. It wasn’t our planned dinner destination, but as we toured around a few pubs, there was a lack of space in one (we did have a table but as we hadn’t made a reservation we couldn’t be served), and a lack of things that Mrs MOFAD wanted to eat in another.

There were a few tables available here, so we grabbed one, grabbed some menus and sat down to peruse. Moments later I was off to the bar to order, 2 pizzas and a salad. I do like a pub pizza when they do it well. As The Crown also acts as the pizza takeaway outlet for the whole village, I had high hopes.

Pub pizza is not a derogatory term, more a reference to the type of pizza you find in pubs. It’s not going to be an authentic crispy base sourdough pizza, but more like the kind of pizza that we grew up on in the 1980s. That’s not a bad thing though. I have fond memories of some 80s pizzas.

These hopes took a slight dashing just a few minutes later when someone arrived from the kitchen to explain that my choice of pizza (crispy duck #obvs) wasn’t available, so I had to choose a new pizza. This was duly done and we sat back to enjoy our drinks and wait. A pint of Socks and Sandals for me, a new one from Robinsons (whose pub this is). A smooth and bitter pale ale, not an IPA as described, but a decent rye ale. Mrs MOFAD had Timmermans Strawberry, which turned out to be too sweet for accompanying a savoury dish.

Soon afterwards, the pizzas arrived, along with our salad. And good pub pizzas they were. Mine was a twist on a Hawaiian with added pulled pork. Because everyone likes to add pulled pork nowadays. Lots of cheesey goodness and a doughy base.

The side salad was somewhat of a let down. Not so many leaves and drowned in lots of dressing.

No pudding tonight, we will earn those over the coming days. A decent pub with a decent pizza, definitely worth a visit if you’re in Coniston.

Ye Olde Nags Head, Castleton, April 2017

Friday night is quiz night? Well, that’s most unusual, but who are we to argue? Tonight we were joined by MOFAD companions Andy & Kerrie for an evening of a few beverages, some nosh and then some good quizzing action.

First to the bar, and a good local pint to begin.¬†Thornbridge Crackendale is a delicious Citra pale ale. It’s one of my favourite hops, and makes for a good pint.

Kerrie and Mrs MOFAD were looking at the gin tasting boards. For a very reasonable price you get three gins, a carafe of tonic, a glass of fruity bits and a glass of ice. You can then mix your own G&Ts. Kerrie indulged in a board, Mrs MOFAD just had one as she was driving us home tonight.

Brain food next. When a pub has a pizza oven, you should have pizza. Pizza is great. All that lovely gluten, all that lovely tomato sauce, all that lovely cheese. And so many toppings to explore. Tonight, BBQ sauce, BBQ chicken, smoked bacon, onion and sweetcorn combined on the “Smoky Special”:-

It was accompanied by a Green Devil IPA from Oakham Ales, which was probably the best IPA that I’ve ever had on cask. If you look back on my beer of the month posts, you will spot a lot of IPAs. What you will not spot are any served from a cask in a pub. They are all in a bottle or a can (with the very occasional keg). I wish that I had a photo to capture this moment, but it was just too good to stop and photograph.

There was time for pudding before the quiz began. A sticky toffee pudding is always a good choice, and that proved to be the case again tonight. Sticky and unctuous.

A pudding needs a pudding beer (and further hydration for the brain in advance of the quiz getting started). McConnel’s from Thornbridge is a smooth and sweet vanilla stout with smoky notes, and very sessionable for a stout.

A lovely meal was then followed by a fun quiz. We did quite well, and certainly had a moral victory over the team behind us who were desperately Googling for a few answers. No prizes for “My Pointless Friend Richard” tonight, but we had a lot of fun.

A great pub, lovely good, good beer and a great gin selection. A good pub quiz too. Well worth a visit.

The Needle & Pin, March 2017

A little “halfway between birthdays” event for us. We had a bit of a think about where we wanted to have a little event with a little¬†group of friends. Often these happen in various chain pubs about the area, but I wanted our one to happen in my favourite pub. So we made it happen (with thanks to Sean who let us reserve the entire upstairs area for the evening).

My evening began with a pint of Beer Hub Brew #1 from The West End Brewery, a new Leicester brewery that opened up last year. This was a cracking session pale ale with good hoppy notes.

Some pizza arrived from Peter Pizza. We tucked in.

This was accompanied by North Riding Brewery’s Neapolitan Milk Stout, which is like childhood in a glass, the 1980s ice cream classic in pint form.

Downstairs, it was bar manager Jet’s birthday. Sean had very kindly rebranded one of the pumps to celebrate this ūüôā

Whilst one or two people were confused by this, Mrs MOFAD was choosing another beer, Curse of Threepwood from Wild Weather Ales, a fruity and tart rhubarb and hibiscus sour wheat beer. If you don’t recognise the name, Guybrush Threepwood was the main character in the Monkey Island series of games. One for you 90s gamers!

One more pint to celebrate, a Thornbridge favourite, Lord Marples, a classic bitter.

A lovely night out with friends and beers.

Pizza Express, Loughborough, February 2017

With apologies to Don Covay and Aretha Franklin:-

Chain chain chain! Chain of foods…

Pizza Express opened its first restaurant in London in 1965, and has been expanding ever since. Over the last 20 years or so they have been a kind of corporate football, changing hands around four or five times. Whilst they’d like you to think that they are that same company with a Sicilian chef cooking authentic pizza, nowadays they are just another chain owned by a Chinese private equity firm.

We’ve always been well equipped with pizza places in Loughborough. I had my first Leicestershire pizza at the Purple Onion, way back in October 1992. We’ve had the big chains (Pizza Hut & Domino’s) for a long time. We’ve got a Papa John’s. We also have local places such as Croma, Mario’s, Sliced! and Dominic’s (definitely not Domino’s, honest). The most recent (December 2016) TripAdvisor review¬†is hilarious, and it won’t encourage you to visit Dominic’s.

There is one place that is head and shoulders above all of these. That is Peter Pizza. I have written about them several times already. They do the best pizza. They are top on TripAdvisor. They even have the slogan “Come and try the worst pizza that one guy on TripAdvisor ever had”.

So what did a sleepy market town need? Two new Italian chains of course. As part of the new Cineworld development in 2016, we got Bella Italia and Pizza Express. Tonight, we were off to the cinema again with MOFAD dining companions Karon & John. We decided to go to Pizza Express beforehand, as it is very close to the cinema.

There’s only one decent beer choice on the menu, the Peroni Gran Reserva, a pleasant double malt beer. The standard Peroni is just dull, but this has interesting sweet and malty notes that go well with pizza.

On to that pizza. I must admit that I found the menu a little uninspiring. There are nine pizzas with chilli on. There’s one with chicken. There’s one with ham. La Reine. I had that. It was quite nice, but it was no Peter Pizza.

Mrs MOFAD had the same, but in Romana form. What this means is that they roll the dough out a bit thinner, to make a larger base, and then charge you another couple of quid for the privilege. However, it just seems to go colder more quickly. We also had a mixed salad on the side, which was also a little uninspiring. A tomato chopped up, five half slices of cucumber and a handful of leaves. Not exactly value for money. We could have had twice as many (better) pizzas, better salad and better drinks at Peter.

You expect your local independent to be more expensive than the chain, but it’s the other way round. Pizza Express is over priced and underwhelming. There was nothing specifically wrong and it was convenient, but if you’re going to charge ¬£13.50 for a pizza, it should be stunning. Even though we weren’t in a hurry (for once!) we did feel rather rushed out of a largely empty restaurant.

The Parcel Yard, Leicester, February 2017

Have you guessed? Another night out at the Leicester comedy festival. If you look back through February 2015 and February 2016 (and all “pre-MOFAD” Februarys) you’ll find this familiar pattern. The Leicester comedy festival goes from strength to strength, with this year’s shows stretching out through three and a half weeks, and a huge mixture of “standard” tour shows, work in progress shows, podcast recordings, new material nights and a few special events (such as Robin Ince’s only live solo show in 2017).

On then to our choice of dining tonight, The Parcel Yard. We came here last year before a show, it’s perfectly placed for Leicester station (which is why it was absolutely packed tonight, more on that in a moment). It’s also a short walk to De Montfort Hall, which is where we were heading afterwards.

Why was it so packed? Ah, that’s an easy one when you spot lots of striped rugby shirts inside. Leicester Tigers had been¬†playing at home, having beaten Bristol 50-17. The pub closest to the station is very likely to be busy, as fans eventually make their way home, once suitably refreshed. And there were quite a few that were suitably refreshed.

This does lead to one other thing. A limited menu. This is a sound business decision, and a very sensible one. If you know you are going to be packed out, the last thing you can possibly do is offer a full menu and get all those hungry people fed in good time. So you limit your offerings in order to keep service speedy and customers happy. As a customer, if there’s nothing you fancy from the more limited menu then you can vote with your feet and go elsewhere.

There was something that we both wanted so I trundled off to the bar and ordered. My beer choice was¬†a pint of Ruckin’ Flanker, a collaboration between Steamin’ Billy (owner of the pub) and Charnwood Brewery.

The limited menu contains a selection of burgers from the usual menu – not all of them, as there’s one missing, sadly the one I was going to choose. There are also¬†“favourites” such as fish’n’chips, steak, vegetable lasagne and all day breakfasts, the full selection of pizzas, and some salads, sandwiches and sides. Plenty of things to choose from.

Because we were right at the front of the pub (it’s quite a long building), Mrs MOFAD was pondering how they would spot us to bring the food out (there are no table numbers, spoons with numbers, flower pots with numbers, wine bottles with numbers or any other identifying items). Thankfully (perhaps), the barman serving had entered “middle aged guy by front door” into the till, so they would know where to find their customer. I guess I can’t really argue with that.

On to the food. I am often a creature of habit, so I had the Q burger again,¬†beef burger topped with¬†pulled pork, crispy bacon, Red Leicester cheese, onion rings and pickles served with fries and coleslaw. Just like last year, it was very tasty. And just like last year, there was no plate, just this wooden tray that you’d expect to find in your greenhouse or shed. How do I sprinkle vinegar on my chips? Where does my blob of sauce go to dip those chips in? We want plates!

Mrs MOFAD had a pizza again, this time the¬†Steamin’ Hawaiian, topped with ham hock, spiced pineapple chunks & mushrooms.

This was less good, as it appeared to have either been over cooked (although not burnt) or left under a heat lamp for too long, as the ham was quite dry, and the base was almost cracker-crisp in places.

We were soon fed and watered, and then wandered back up London Road to De Montfort Hall to watch Sue Perkins in “Spectacles” – some readings from her recent autobiography mixed with amusing photos and other stories, and a Q&A section in the second half.

An entertaining night out, which would have been even better if the chuntering women behind us could have kept their mouths shut for more than 30 seconds. When their mouths weren’t full of wine they were nattering away about nonsense, occasionally related to an on stage anecdote. It’s fair to say that there were a lot of people out tonight who had not been out to a comedy show before.