Breakfast al fresco at the Green Room in Brackley.

Breakfast at the Green Room in Brackley

It has been a while since we visited The Green Room in Brackley, though we used enjoy a frequent weekend breakfast there. By chance we have now had two breakfasts there in a week. I have to say there have been some improvement in recent months.

When we arrived the place was busy, with the downstairs seating area full. It was a pleasant day, so we chose the one remaining table in the garden, rather than sit upstairs. As the photo shows, the table was rather small for a full breakfast for two! That was our choice, so no complaints – we could have had more table space upstairs.

Green Room Breakfast

The breakfast menu has always had a wide range of options, from simple toast and marmalade to the traditional Full English fry up. Vegetarian and high protein options are there and the staff are always willing to adjust the plate to suit your own tastes. My family doesn’t know how to use a menu – something is always changed!

Our breakfast started with a great cappuccino and dairy free hot chocolate, made with soya milk, which my wife assured me was good.

My full English was well cooked and tasty. For those who don’t know it a “Full English” is a fry up consisting of bacon, sausage, eggs (poached or fried), and often includes beans, hash browns and black pudding. A big test for me is how “clean” the plate is. Sometimes the full English is served with a lot grease on the plate. This is a no-no for me. I am happy to report that my plate was clean free of stray grease and well presented. As the photo shows I opted out of the beans! My wife’s “vegetarian with a bacon cheat” was similarly a well presented meal.

Other Meals

During the day, once breakfast is over (11:15 on weekdays, 11:45 on Saturdays) The Green Room offers a selection of interesting meals. Not your normal “pub food”, and always something imaginative. I have always found something good to eat there.

This is also a good spot to stop for a coffee. And there is always an interesting looking range of cakes on the counter.

Tapas is on offer during the evening, though I have not yet tried that. The Green Room also has an extensive range of gin, carefully paired with the right tonic. Enjoy that at the bar, or with your dinner.

Would I go back to The Green Room

Without question I would go back for breakfast or lunch. We do aim to try their Tapas at some point soon.

 

 

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Caught My Eye: Coffee and Black Ops

Caught My Eye: Coffee and Black Ops

Coffee seems to have been in my life a lot recently. Testing coffee in a new business – Brett’s Own Brews (good for a post at a later date), acquiring a new coffee machine and doing some experiments. I’m not talking instant here. And I’m also not talking high street coffee. No, it’s been all about great coffee from various suppliers for different purposes.

Personal Coffee Machine

Like many people I do enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning. Producing a really good cup of coffee can be a real hassle, especially when it comes to the clean up afterwards. Back in my student days I had a great little single cup filter machine. That’s useful – fill it up in the evening and load the filter with some good quality ground. In the morning, just switch it on and a few minutes later there’s a tasty, steaming cup of coffee ready to get you going for the day. Afterwards, just wash the cup and clean the filter and it’s ready for the next cup.

Morphy Richards SAingle cup coffee filter machine.

I haven’t had one of those for years, but I was given one recently and I’ve really been enjoying it. I’m currently enjoying a Rocko Mountain coffee from Monsoon Estates Coffee Company in Stratford upon Avon. In my view it certainly beats the Nespresso hands down.

Contact Coffee Company

I have also been given a bag of “Black Ops” from the Contact Coffee Company. Tried this one this morning, and it is everything it promises. Kick start your day with a mug of this and you will not be dozing off any time soon.

There’s not much “about” the company, but to quote from a search “Contact Coffee is an idea from two military men derived from our passion for Fitness, Military and most importantly, Coffee!”. Good coffee guys!

Coffee Blogger Italy

Taking a trip to Rome? I also found this interesting post about coffee in Italy, from a Northamptonshire (that’s nearby!) blogger, Nicole. Now this looks good – I think I need a getaway soon!

Coffee Cups

And before you go, do have a look at the selection of coffee mugs on my site, featuring some of my photos from various places. One of these is my morning coffee favourite. A good solid, interesting mug which is dishwasher proof!

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Weald Smokery – Great Lunch Stop

It’s always good to find somewhere different to eat, especially when it’s not the usual “pub grub” style of food. And so it was at the Weald Smokery near Flimwell in Sussex. We spotted a chalkboard sign advertising the food, on the main road heading towards Hastings, so stopped to check it out for our lunch

Smoked Seafood Lunch

Common to many bistro style cafes Weald Smokery offers a selection of sandwiches along with a few meals. All looked tasty and interesting. Following the “smokery” theme we opted to share a fish pate and a Fish Sharing platter.  Service was quick and very polite, and we didn’t have to wait long for our food, sitting outside in warm sunshine.  We were definitely not disappointed and enjoyed a tasty and ample fish meal.  The pate was served with salad leaves and toast. The sharing platter included salmon, trout, smoked prawns (which I had never tried before) accompanied by taramasalata, a dill sauce, salad leaves and olives, and an assortment of artisan breads.  Sitting in the sun in this countryside spot it is easy to think that you are in the countryside, and forget that it is only 17 miles to Hastings, at the coast, and a good source of fresh fish, as we discovered on our visit to Robertsbridge on a previous trip. 

A Bit More about the Weald Smokery

The Weald Smokery is one of a limited number of smokehouses in the UK producing smoked foods by traditional artisan methods. It has been family owned for 30 years, and has received awards for its products. Do check out the website

Why Visit this Part of Sussex

Flimwell is a village on the A21 route between the M25 London ring road and Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea, both on the coast and popular in the summer holidays. The village is situated in an Area of Natural Beauty, and is inside “1066 Country”, near the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Medieval Bodiam Castle is nearby. 

Pay The Area a Visit

Travelling down towards Hastings? Stop in and have a look around.  Or just take a day trip…. 
Bunny Chow - Home made in the UK.

Bunny Chow – A Durban Speciality

 

One thing that has to be a part of any trip to Durban is a Bunny Chow. But Durban is far away, so I had to make one at home. There is something really delicious and comforting about a serving of good curry in a hollowed out loaf of bread with the gravy soaked into the bread! That’s my latest attempt above. A lamb curry garnished simply with coriander leaves. A bunny chow is, of course, eaten with fingers, using the bread.

 

History of the Bunny Chow

 

The bunny chow appears to have originated in Durban in the 1940’s, though there are different stories about how it came to be. One way or another Durban, and for that matter a good part of kwaZulu-Natal, has a large population of Indian descent. Durban is known for its curries.

 

The bunny chow is basically a curry in bread, with the bread used as a bowl. Originally the curry would have been vegetable, but over the years mutton and chicken have become common. I have also eaten beef curry in a bunny. And, of course, it is unusual to find a mutton curry in the UK, so lamb it is!

 

Typically it comes, in Durban, as a “full” (i.e. 800g loaf), “half” (half an 800g loaf) or a “quarter” (typically half a small, or 400g loaf). The middle of the bread is carefully removed as a single piece, leaving the crust as the bowl. The crust is filled with curry, and the bread removed from the middle used to top the filling. Sambals can be added as necessary.

 

Bunny Chow in the UK and Making Your Own

 

There are a number of places in the UK advertising bunny chow in various forms, though I have only once sampled a local version, from a South African kiosk in Camden Market in London. I have heard that it is popular in some places, with pubs offering it on one day a week, then two, then all week.

 

If you are making your own bunny chow, there are two parts to remember:

 

  1. Bread which can form a bowl;
  2. Curry which has plenty of rich gravy. It can be meat or veg.

 

Personally I prefer to make the curry to fill the bread, but you can buy the curry from your local Indian takeaway. The do look at you sideways if you don’t order rice or naan, though.

 

Simply remove the centre of the bread, fill the crust with your chosen curry, and enjoy!

 

A Google search brought up a few UK based bunny chow restaurants. Not surprising as there are a few South Africans around:

 

 

My Bunny Chow Recipe

 

I have a big family, so this is intended to feed 8 people. Curry freezes well, though we rarely have any leftovers to freeze.

 

Play with quantities and spice mix as you wish, using this as a base.

 

This recipe has been used for mutton and beef, and, with a couple of variations, chicken. In the UK i use it with lamb.

 

Ingredients

 

  • Cooking oil
  • 3 large white onions
  • 12 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Ginger – I use about half of a ginger root from the supermarket
  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 6 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 3 or 4 chillies – depending on how hot you like it. I use 4 supermarket chillies
  • salt to taste
  • 2kg meat
  • 3 tins tomato
  • Coriander leaves
  • Bread – 4 x 400g loaves, farmhouse, split tin or small sandwich loaves

 

Method

 

Brown the onions. add the garlic and ginger and fry it all together for a minute.

 

Add the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt and stir it all up together.

 

Add the meat, mix it all up and mix it all up well. Let it cook for ten minutes.

 

Add the tomatoes and chillies, turn the heat down and let it simmer slowly for about an hour. It’s cooked when the meat is tender and the oil is rising to the surface.

 

Cut the loaves in half and carefully remove the bread from the centre in one piece. Fill the crusts with curry, garnish with coriander leaves, put the removed bread and top and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Boerewors on the Braai on a UK winter's day

Boerewors on the Braai (Even in the English Winter)

 

The Saffa influence is clearly here in England. The boerewors in the picture was sourced from our local butcher in England. And good ‘wors it was too. I’m told that his first 20kg production of boerewors sold out in 2 hours, based solely on word of mouth and facebook!

In fact, the sun dared to come out on a Sunday afternoon in late January. Winter or not, we lit the fire and cooked up a sample of the sausage. Great way to spend a Sunday.

About Boerewors

Boerewors on the braaiIf you have visited South Africa, or been to a South African braai (barbecue, but no hamburger allowed 🙂 ) you may have eaten boerewors. If not, it was almost certainly offered. It is commonly eaten in the Southern African region, largely in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and also common in Botswana and Namibia. As people have migrated from those regions they have taken their favourite recipes with them, so it is available in many parts of the world where you will find South Africans. In fact the name comes from the afrikaans “boer”(farmer) and “wors”(sausage).

Boerewors is made primarily of beef, often with pork or lamb, sometimes with a mixture of both, with a mixture of spices. Each boerewors maker has his/her own preferred mix, so it can be a challenge to find the ideal taste.

Cook boerewors on the braai for best results, but cook like any other sausage in the oven or on the stove.

#braai #braaitime #barbecue #boerewors #uk #winterbraai #braaiinwinter #englishbraai #food #foodonthefire #boereworsbraai Posted on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/Bef_1b4F75k/@hairy1travels.

That Was 2017

That was 2017

2017 is one of those years where we can say we did a lot and enjoyed ourselves. Some of it has been blogged, some not. Read my next post for more on that.

Here’s a quick look back at 2017

France

Our first trip of the year was to France. the first time I have been to France. It was really a great get together with friends. Eating good food and sitting ’til the early hours near the beach drinking wine and enjoying ourselves.

Blue Bayou

We stayed at Blue Bayou, with the beach just a short walk away.

A view of Beach and sky with Valras Plage on the horizon. Near Blue Bayou.

A view of Beach and sky with Valras Plage on the horizon.

Carcassonne

Flying in and out of Carcassonnne, La Cite, the old Citadel was a must for a visit.

Outside the old walled citadel, La Cité, at Carcassonne.

Outside the old walled citadel, La Cité, at Carcassonne.

Agde

Known for its naturist beach, which we didn’t visit, we had a short time there and took a boat trip, then experienced a bit of local take-away cuisine.

Boats and a big wheel in Athe Harbour at Agde.

Boats and a big wheel in Athe Harbour at Agde.

Valras Plage

We visited the market in Valras Plage and then enjoyed cocktails with a beach view.

A busy Market Street in Valras Plage.

A busy Market Street in Valras Plage.

GreatFood

As always we found great food, and even tried that French delicacy, frog’s legs.

South Africa

With family ties in SA, a long planned visit came together exactly as planned. That was a mixture of hectic days and relaxation by the sea.

Hermanus – Whales and Prawns

Having been in Hermanus once before, we had a long standing plan to visit. We were not disappointed!

Hermanus is in South Africa’s Western Cape area.

A sea view from Bientang's Cave Restaurant in Hermanus

A sea view from Bientang’s Cave Restaurant in Hermanus

Hermanus – Winelands

A day trip into the Hermanus Winelands was a surprise find. A great day out.

In the winelands near Hermanus, this was our view over lunch.

In the winelands near Hermanus, this was our view over lunch.

Umdloti

Umdloti, north of Durban on South Africa’s kwaZulu-Natal coast provided a few days of tranquil getaway.

Rough seas on the beach at Umdloti, looking towards Durban.

Rough seas on the beach at Umdloti, looking towards Durban.

Durban

Visiting Durban while staying at Umdloti, we had a few good days in the area, visiting the beachfront, harbour and the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

Durban Beachfront Bay of Plenty

 

Closer to Home

Of course it is not all about long trips. There’s a lot happening closer to home. Have a look.

 

And 2018?

Who knows. There are a lot of changes coming our way, so watch this space.

Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous 2018