The Bulls Head, Castleton, April 2017

Another sunny April day, and a twist on a familiar Peak District walk. We’ve walked from Hope to Castleton and back quite a few times over the years, and via quite a few different routes. Last time we did it, we stopped off at The George in Castleton for lunch.

Today we did the low level bit first, and arrived in Castleton with plenty of time to stroll around the shops (picking up a beer or two at the village shop), as well as buying some gifts elsewhere. As before, you are spoilt for choice in Castleton, as there are so many great pubs. We opted for The Bulls Head, a Robinsons pub that we have passed by so many times.

We sat down, checked out the menu and then popped up to the bar to order. This interesting looking concoction is Lucy Jack (Grapefruit Edition) from Norwegian brewery Lervig, full of juicy grapefruit goodness, although it could have even more hops and grapefruit for me. Very refreshing after a morning of walking.

My lunch was predictable, because pulled pork was on the menu. Pulled pork was ordered, in the form of this sourdough sandwich, served with salad, and we ordered some sweet potato fries on the side.

It was delicious. So often pulled pork can be sickly stuff, but this had the right balance to it, and it was a very tasty lunch. Another great Castleton pub.

We headed off soon afterwards, as we have the high bit of the walk still to come, returning to Hope via the Lose Hill ridge.

Brew York 1st birthday party, April 2017

Brew York, so good they named it once. So good, that they are already celebrating their first birthday with a series of events at the brewery over the weekend. Today we have been exploring the city, via the city walls. York still has most of the walls that surrounded the city 700 years ago. The tops of these were partly rebuilt about 150 years ago so the public could walk along most of them, and “feel safer” by having a tall parapet on one side of them. They are usually just called “the walls” although locals also sometimes refer to them as “the bar walls”, after the four main fortified gateways or “bars” where you can access the walls.

It’s a great way to explore the edges of the city. And at many points, you can descend back down to street level, and explore more things in the middle.

This is how we came to our lunch stop, descending from the walls at Red Tower (where they finish for a while) and then making our way down to Brew York, on the banks of the Foss, where they just happened to be celebrating their first birthday.

Brew York was born when founders Wayne and Lee met on the stag do of a mutual friend. A few years later they met again, when Wayne’s home brew was served at a party hosted by that same friend. Soon, they started brewing together, gaining confidence from the feedback on their home brews. What if they could open a brewery? Well, they did.

In 2015 they started the admin work of opening a brewery, converting a warehouse by the Foss. In March 2016, Viking DNA was the first beer brewed on site. This beer was a nod to the heritage of the brewery’s location (where the Jorvik Viking centre was originally built).

The birthday weekend was in full swing when we arrived at lunchtime. Raffle tickets were being handed out at the door, a local band were just tuning up, and we grabbed a couple of seats inside. I went off to the bar to order some drinks and Mrs MOFAD stepped outside to check out the street food vendors in the yard, and order some lunch.

Let’s look at the drinks first. The murk bomb on the left hand side is a refreshing raspberry wheat beer called Razberet, and the hop bomb on the right is a classic session IPA called X-Panda, featuring Citra, Simcoe and Chinook hops.

Lunch soon appeared, some tasty pulled pork baps from Smokin’ Blues Street Food, some lovely rare breed pork shoulder, and not overpowered by a sickly sweet sauce. A nice crunchy slaw, much better than that supermarket stuff.

More murk next, in the form of Triple H, hoppy, hazy and heavenly, perfect with that pulled pork. This one combines Centennial, Citra and Mosaic hops to great effect, citrus and floral flavours. It went beautifully with the pork.

Whilst this was all going on, we were also doing some quizzes, identifying beers from labels and identifying breweries from bits of logos. Visitors were also invited to suggest a new beer to be brewed. My suggestion of Richard’s Third Hop, combining English, Australian and New Zealand hops with a Richard III based pun was not a winner. Maybe I’ll brew it myself when I retire!

There was more exploring to be done, but with the sun beating down outside (it was a glorious day) it was important to be properly hydrated, so I grabbed another beer from the bar. This was Big Eagle, an American IPA with four hops and four malts battling it out from dominance. I think the malts win the battle in this one, but it’s quite nicely balanced.

The Brew York Tap Room is a cracking place, a working brewery with enough space for a decent amount of visitors. With some good food and great beers on offer, it’s the perfect place to unwind in one corner of the city centre. You could stay all day. We had more to explore, so moved along. Whilst the scenery was just a little different, with the sunshine, live music and great food and beer, it also reminded us of last year’s trip to Fat Monk in New Zealand. We’ll definitely be back again one day!

Highly recommended!

The Hunting Lodge, Barrow Upon Soar, October 2016

What is it that you need after you’ve been away in Suffolk for a week, sampling a few Adnams beers. Another Adnams pint of course! A pint of Broadside to accompany a catch up with some friends from work.

The Hunting Lodge in Barrow upon Soar is somewhere that I’ve been a few times over the years. It has always been known for good food and drink, and that reputation continues. It’s always busy because of that. Plenty of things to choose from on the menu is just one reason why there are always plenty of customers in. There’s masses of choice on the a la carte menu, plenty more on the early bird and snack menu.

Keeping it light today with a BBQ pulled pork baguette with chips and salad. Another good pub pulled pork, staying away from sickly sweetness and tending towards gentle spiciness and stickiness.

A lovely spot for some food and drink and a catch up. Well worth checking out if you’re in the area.

TPN 2016 #19

A holiday is always a good opportunity for triple pork nirvana. However, I have passed up the opportunity a few times this week, because there has been a lot of lovely fish to tempt me, and I do like some fish beside the seaside. The day started as usual with some bacon and egg rolls to fuel our forthcoming cycle ride.

Today, the power of pork was compelling. We had a lovely ride over from Snape to Orford, parked our bikes in the beer garden of The Jolly Sailor, popped in to reserve a table for lunch (it gets busier than you’d imagine for an October lunchtime), had a quick stroll around the village, and then came back to eat. A very nice Cumberland sausage baguette, onion marmalade, salad and vegetbale crisps.

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After a lovely lunch in a lovely seaside pub we carried on with our ride and popped in to Snape Maltings when we had finished, to stock up on some food and drink goodies at The Food Hall – well worth stopping by if you’re in the area.

We drove back to Reydon for a quick shower and change, and then out into Southwold for dinner at The Sole Bay Inn. This pulled pork burger proved to be a perfect way to achieve triple pork nirvana today.

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A well rounded nirvana today and a very tasty one. It’s about quality not quantity.

The Star Inn, Wenhaston, Suffolk, October 2016

Well, this was an interesting experience. Before I go any further, let me just say that the food was lovely and there was a nice pint too. And the staff were also very friendly.

Ok, here we go.

I don’t normally take photos inside pub toilets. I know that’s not a sentence you should need to write. But this pub was different. Very different. To almost any pub we’ve ever visited. A distinct League of Gentlemen feel to some of the decor. Are you local?

So let’s start with that toilet. An Adnams sign. NFS. Or “Normal For Suffolk”, since there are so many Adnams pubs. This was in fact just one of two that we visited this week that wasn’t actually an Adnams pub. There was a vaguely interesting old car picture on the far wall. Looks reasonably normal.

Let’s swing round to our right shall we? What’s that over there? Bar skittles, tournament horseshoes and something else that is all perfectly abnormal for a pub toilet. This is all rather weird. And these are just the bits that I could photograph because no-one else was watching.

The bar area was a similar mish-mash of things. Old newspaper articles, a lovely old fireplace, a dartboard, some randomly arranged 1970s style rope light, a harp with one string, skulls, spiky things, hooks and rings and more besides. It’s just all a bit odd. Not unpleasant, just odd.

On then to the food and drink. This pulled pork baguette was one of the best things I had all week. A real decent baguette (not just some part baked thing that you buy at the supermarket and heat up in the oven for 5 minutes). The pulled pork was really nice too. And a simple side salad with a nice dressing.

A range of local ales on too, including Adnams (for the tourists apparently) and then things from smaller breweries. I had a pint of Starling by Green Jack, a smaller brewery based just up the coast in Lowestoft. A very tasty light bitter, and just the kind of thing you hope to find in a nice village pub.

This pub has to be experienced to be believed. Great food and drink, and plenty of quirks to keep you talking!

Pub of the month – August 2016 – Ye Olde Mustard Pot, Midhopestones

Another month of pub visiting.

First in this month’s round up, The Quorndon Fox, in Quorn. The Quorndon Fox was a fox specially bred for hunting wild Quorn in order to feed vegetarians.

Vintage Inns are another example of a good chain of pubs. We’ve been to them around the country, in Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Derbyshire and probably some other shires too. You know what you’re going to get, which is usually decent food and a good few ales on the bar. The menu is the same up and down the country, and they change them regularly throughout the seasons.

August’s visit (we’ve been here in pre-MOFAD days) provided an example of those good ales – Abbeydale Moonshine, a classic session pale ale, light and hoppy.

You can also keep it light food-wise with a simple sandwich menu, offering things like chicken BLT – grilled chicken breast, bacon, gem lettuce and tomato. There’s also chargrilled rump steak with horseradish mayonnaise, beer-battered cod goujons and samphire tartare sauce (posh fish fingers), prawn and hot-smoked salmon, Taw Valley cheddar and pickle or Yorkshire ham and grain mustard. These are all served with “straw fries” (Stringfellows for all you 80s frozen chip children).

The aforementioned chicken BLT came in a good bap with good chips. And served on plates!!! The little chip bowl had been heated up to keep the chips warm, so it served a purpose but I still tipped them out anyway.

On warm summer evenings there’s also a nice beer garden out the back to enjoy. We were dining in the garden, and you get to go and raid the fridge for condiments. No tiny sachets here, go and grab a jar of mayonnaise or tomato sauce or whatever from the fridge in the little shed and spoon yourself some out. A lovely pub.

The next two pubs come from a Bank Holiday weekend away.

Next up we have The Royal Hotel Hayfield. Just up above the village of Hayfield is a very nicely kept Camping and Caravanning Club camp site, which was to be our base for the weekend.

On the Friday and Saturday nights we found ourselves wandering down into the village, and to The Royal Hotel, where we’ve eaten on a few previous visits to Hayfield. Good beers available as per previous visits. On the first night I started with DB Number One from Dorking brewery, with malts, a little hint of hop, and maybe a tiny amount of smokiness…

Dinner was soon served, and we had both opted for “Italian chicken”, chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and wrapped in parma ham, served on a bed of crushed new potatoes with a rich tomato sauce.

It was quite nice, but the tomato sauce needs a bit more work. It wasn’t “rich” as described, instead a little bit watery. Another 5 minutes of reduction and it would have probably been about right. A bit under seasoned too.

This was accompanied by a pint of Byatt’s “Marvellous English IPA”. If this wasn’t labelled as an IPA I would have rated it higher. It is writing cheques that it can’t cash. Nice beer but not an IPA.

Just 24 hours later, we were back. After a rainy day out on the bikes we decided that a nice quiet evening in the pub was required. We had popped in to The Sportsman Inn but they were absolutely rammed, so we walked down in to the village again, and back to the Royal Hotel. First up a pint of Longdendale Lights by Howard Town Brewery, a good session pale ale:-

Dinner was well earned, despite a curtailed ride. For me it was the Royal burger (beef and horseradish), topped with bacon and cheese and served with a salad garnish and chips, whilst Mrs MOFAD opted for the burger sliders – three mini-burgers of pulled pork, beef and chicken served with chips.

The sliders could have done with something else to accompany them (I donated my coleslaw), and the rolls were a little dry, but the fillings were all good. My burger was nice also, just a hint of horseradish, and a good brioche bun. Despite the silly mesh bucket, we did get plates, and a hint of salad garnish. A very nice burger.

The Royal Hotel is definitely worth popping in to if you’re in Hayfield. Although they do stop serving food at 7pm on Sundays, which is slightly annoying on a Bank Holiday weekend!

Our winner this month is somewhere that we’ve never been before, Ye Olde Mustard Pot in Midhopestones, on the outskirts of Sheffield.

Bank Holiday Monday must involve some kind of pub trip right? You would think so, but so many establishments seem to give their chefs the day off and stop serving food. Great for the hard working chef of course, but what about the hungry customer?

On this particular Bank Holiday Monday we were in transit from our camp site for the weekend to a family BBQ. After a nice drive across the northern edge of the Peak District, we were on the look out for somewhere near to Langsett Reservoir, where we were planning on having a little stroll in the summer sunshine.

Whilst driving around, we chanced upon Ye Olde Mustard Pot in Midhopestones. Despite the massive car park looking a little empty, they were in fact open and doing food (until 4pm), so we parked up and found a table in the bar (there’s a patio with benches out the front and also a beer garden around the back).

We ordered some sandwiches and then sat back and waited. There was a bit of a delay because it was a busy Bank Holiday lunchtime, but we were in no particular hurry. It gave us time to listen to the story of a nearby table who had recently seen a concert at Jodrell Bank, home of the Lovell Telescope and home since 2011 of a few live music events.

The gentleman on the table mentioned the name of the artist in question and it was all I could do to not burst out laughing. He had apparently been to see “that John Michael Jar”. I wondered if this was some kind of Jean Michel Jarre tribute act from the north, but further description suggested that it was the real JMJ, just beautifully mis-pronounced.

Anyway, enough of this local dialect amusement. On to lunch. We had both ordered the same thing, a roast chicken baguette with chorizo and smoked cheese.

It was absolutely delicious, probably the tasiest thing of the whole month. The baguette was stuffed to the gills with filling, loads of chicken, plenty of chorizo and no skimping on the smoked cheese. Proper home made chips and a decent bit of salad on the side. One of the sandwiches of the year.

A lovely cosy pub serving great food. There was also a good pint on (Bradfield Farmers Blonde) but there was lots more driving to do, so I passed. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area and a worthy winner of pub of the month.

The Royal Hotel, Hayfield, August 2016 #2

Hang on I hear you say. Weren’t you here last night? Yes, we were. After a rainy day out on the bikes we decided that a nice quiet evening in the pub was required. We had popped in to The Sportsman Inn but they were absolutely rammed, so we walked down in to the village again, and back to the Royal Hotel, as we had enjoyed it last night.

Same drill as last night, grab menus, sit down, order food and drink. First up a pint of Longdendale Lights by Howard Town Brewery, a good session pale ale:-

Dinner was well earned, despite a curtailed ride.  For me it was the Royal burger (beef and horseradish), topped with bacon and cheese and served with a salad garnish and chips, whilst Mrs MOFAD opted for the burger sliders – three mini-burgers of pulled pork, beef and chicken served with chips.

The sliders could have done with something else to accompany them (I donated my coleslaw), and the rolls were a little dry, but the fillings were all good. My burger was nice also, just a hint of horseradish, and a good brioche bun. Despite the silly mesh bucket, we did get plates, and a hint of salad garnish. A very nice burger.

This was accompanied by a Marston’s pale ale, typically average Marston’s stuff.

Thankfully, there was time for another Longdendale Lights since that was much better. There were a few other ales on that I’d had before too. Another nice night at The Royal Hotel, definitely worth popping in if you’re in Hayfield. Although they do stop serving food at 7pm on Sundays, which is slightly annoying on a Bank Holiday weekend! It does pretty much guarantee that we’ll be eating elsewhere tomorrow night though.