Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas at the Inn

I've already raved about The Inn at Grinshill and of course Chris Conde (their fabulous chef!) in a previous blog. We had already decided & booked to have Christmas lunch there before our 1st visit. The rest of the family had decided to do their own thing for Christmas, and I certainly didn't want us to be two sad old codgers sat at the kitchen table eating a huge turkey dinner that neither of us really wanted.

So Christmas day was a stress-free event - we had a lovely lie in and had already opened our respective presents the previous evening. Andy had a trouser press (partly a gift for myself as I wont have to de-crease his trousers with the smoothing iron anymore after they've been hanging in the wardrobe!) and I received a telescope - yes, a telescope.  I have recently taken an interest in the birds feeding in our garden and am fascinated with the moon.  So why not binoculars I hear you ask? Well, as I have a wonky eye - almost blind in the left in fact - binoculars don't really work for me, (nor does 3D TV so that's saved some money) so a telescope it is!
Anyway, after our lie in & a nice soak in the bath, we were ready to go off for our meal.  It was booked for two o'clock so as we still had plenty of time, we jumped into the Merc & went for a leisurely drive in the Christmas Day sunshine. The roads were full of Christmas Day visitors and those like us who were off to be wined & dined instead of cooking at home.

On arrival at The Inn, we were welcomed at the bar by Kevin Brazier, our co-host, in fine spirits & his usual friendly self.  A swift sherry for me before making our way to the dining room where we were greeted as if we were part of the family by Victoria Brazier, including hugs & kisses. Such a lovely lady.  We were shown to our beautifully decorated table, where we found not only the usual crackers but  a Christmas card addressed to us personally, and 2 large red baubles tied with ribbon which we were advised we should take home & hang on our tree to remember the staff at The Inn.  It's these little touches that make you want to go back again and again. The excellent food is a bonus!  I even got a wave from chef Chris Conde as he plated up his masterpieces at the 'pass' for the full to capacity dining room.


For Me: Pepper Crusted Fois Gras with Cointreau Jelly, Micro Leaves & Sourdough toast
 For Mr: Rosary Goat's Cheese, Beetroot Powder, Pain D'Epice, Beetroot Puree & Balsamic Jelly
Pan Fried Fillet of Beef, Mushroom Duxelle, Truffle Mousseline & Creamed Cabbage
There was also a selection of traditional Christmas vegetables including Sprouts which unfortunately were left as they were much harder than I like (Too raw for me!!! but that's the only complaint)

Then cane the Assiette of Desserts to share between us: 
Panacotta (Coconut), Nougat Parfait, Cherry Mousse (with Kirsch) and Christmas Ice Cream
This in turn was followed by homemade Christmas Puddings, flamed with brandy at the table
The puddings were light & delicious
The meal was completed with Coffee & warm Mince Pies

For chef Chris Conde there was something else to finish off service for the day:

Once again we had not been disappointed with our visit to The Inn at Grinshill and I for one, can't wait to go back with friends & family so that they too can experience such great hospitality & gastronomy.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Occasionally, I will be posting some of my poetry.
This piece was writtem quite a while ago after the death of my grandmother - sorry if it's a bit morbid!



Your skin once so ruddy and plump with life
looks grey against the whiteness of your linen shroud.
The lines around your mouth and eyes
which showed the laughter in your life, are gone.
Gone are the worry lines from your brow
which showed how much you cared for each and every one of us.
Gone is the warmth you shared
with everyone you knew, and
As I see you lying there so cold,
I know that what I see is just a shell.
My nan, she is no longer there, but
her love and warmth live on inside my heart.

Christmas Eve 2011

Well it's been a little while since my last blog but I thought I'd share my Christmas experience with you all.
On Christmas Eve, We invited hubby Andy's Son & his girlfriend along with Andy's daughter & her boyfriend  to a dinner party.
I tried to make a cheffy starter of garlic mushrooms & caramelised red onions in filo pastry tartlets and served it with a beetroot puree & a fromage frais mixed with mediterranean herbs. The main was Roast beef with the usual trimmings and there was a choice of desserts: Black Forest Gateau, Lemon Cheesecake or Raspberry Pavlova.  What went wrong? Well.......................
Starters: The filo tarts were like stone cases, the filling was almost cold but they tasted OK
Mains: The beef was over cooked and the yorkshires were forgotten - they actually stayed in the oven until Christmas Day!
Desserts: No fresh raspberries so tinned had to do & the cheesecake managed to collapse just before serving but it tasted just fine - The gateau couldn't go wrong - it was shop-bought!
All in all a meal not devoid of errors but I'd actually drunk so much sherry & wine by then that I actually didn't care anymore!
Presents were exchanged, Mince pies & cheese & crackers remained in the fridge and so our guests went home & I decided it was the last time I do Christmas Eve dinner. Especially when I found out after that my step-daughter & her boyfriend had had a large meal at lunchtime and weren't hungry anyway!! Why??

Monday, 5 December 2011

Ode to hangovers!

Lesson Learned

Last night I thought you
were my friend, you helped me to
forget my loneliness, to laugh
through the tears.  To stand
up against others
who tried
and yet,
this morning
you have brought me so much pain.

You are no friend of mine
you were cheap
and nasty
red wine.

Friday, 2 December 2011

A Meal to Remember

If you are looking for that extra special treat then look no further than The Inn at Grinshill. Their head chef Chris Conde was a quarter finalist on Masterchef, the Professionals and should definitely have gone further but I think nerves got the better of him. His food is amazing and worth the trip to the Inn even if you don't live in the area. 

On our visit last night, we were given a warm & friendly welcome by Victoria Brazier who is one of the proprietors of the Inn. After a drink in the bar, we were shown to our table, prime position to watch Chris at work. He plated up every dish to perfection on the 'pass' in full view of all diners. 

Our meal began with an Amuse Bouche (a taster dish courtesy of the chef) which was a carrot & orange soup with baby coriander served in sweet little coffee cups & saucers and very delicious! 
For starters, I had Pan fried Scallops & hubby had the Goats Cheese & Beetroot textures, both works of art. Mains for me was Braised shin of beef served with escargots, roast shallots, truffle puree & parsley whilst hubby chose the 2 cuts Pork (Belly & Loin) served with apple caviar & Cauliflour. 
We were then given a pre-dessert course (again couresy of the chef) of vanilla ice cream with a mousse topped with popping candy served in a shot glass. Dessert proper was Eton Mess with a difference for hubby & Coconut Parfait for me stacked high with caramelised banana, chocolate, pecans & what looked to me like biscuits made from rice crispies - absolutely scrummy! 

Wonderful Coconut Parfait Tower

Chris Conde's twist on Eton Mess

Belly & Loin of Pork cooked to perfection

Braised Shin of Beef

Goat's Cheese with Beetroot textures

Pan Seared Scallops
This venue gets straight 5 stars across the board from me - I think this was possibly the best meal I have ever had!!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

This blog is for those having a bad day - it tells the story of Santa's bad day and it's consequences!

When four of Santa's elves got sick, the trainee elves did not produce toys as fast as the regular ones,

and Santa began to feel the Pre-Christmas pressure.
Then Mrs Claus told Santa her Mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more.
When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and
two others had jumped the fence and were out, Heaven knows where.
Then when he began to load the sleigh, one of the floorboards cracked, the toy bag fell to the ground and all the toys were scattered.
Frustrated, Santa went in the house for a cup of apple cider and a shot of rum.
When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had drank all the cider and hidden the liquor.
In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the cider jug, and it broke into hundreds of little glass pieces all over the kitchen floor.
He went to get the broom and found the mice had eaten all the straw off the end of the broom.
Just then the doorbell rang, and an irritated Santa marched to the door, yanked it open, and there stood a little angel with a great big
Christmas tree. The angel said very cheerfully, 'Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn't this a lovely day?
I have a beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?'

And so began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.