Friday, 15 January 2016

Belated Christmas and New Year 2015-2016

This is a bit belated, but never mind.  We had sparklers and an Asda Silver Fountain in our back garden for new year:

This was our tree.  A real tree that had to be watered - as usual.  We placed it in our kitchen this year and it was topped with Woody from This is England for a while and then with Kanye West (would that have anything to do with our teenage son?).  We like to choose something topical as the fairy for the top of the tree and both these men were a good idea.  Oh, I can see that the mince pies made an appearance - they must have been just out of the oven when this photo was taken.

We used white lights.  My husband had to go to Homebase to get another set as ours weren't working - they only have to function once a year.  I also like the multi-coloured ones, but I'm really not keen on those blue ones.

A photo of my father carving the Xmas turkey.  We had a lovely lunch at my parents, near Chagford, cooked by my mother.  All the trimmings and plenty of it.  Just lovely.  And no trouble at all!

I made two batches of mince pies - with one I used my own pastry and shop bought mincemeat and the other I used shop-bought pastry and homemade (by someone else) mincemeat.  They were both good - I think this allayed my fears of pastry a little - I just put all the ingredients in the kitchen blender and then refrigerate for half an hour or so before using, and it was easy and fine - but I know from previous attempts that pastry can be tricky.

Although connossieurs thought the homemade pastry was better - there wasn't a huge difference. I always top mince pies with 'Nigella' stars - they are appreciated more than pie lids, use less pastry and are much less fiddly as they can be 'plonked' on the top rather than carefully sealed and shaped.

The whole festive period was spent in Devon.  I enjoyed many other festive treats, but was too greedy to take any photos of them!

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Cranks, Dartington: Tasty New Winter Menu

I went to Dartington shops last week (near Totnes in South Devon) and whilst there went to Cranks.  It is a vegetarian restaurant (I am fully carnivorous) but I like the fact that this cafe is dependable, reasonably-priced, homely and comfortable. Oh and it's warm.  I like a place that I don't have to keep my coat on!

They have got a new winter menu, which is very appealing and we sampled two items from that.  There was a very tempting parsnip, apple and cashew nut burger but I went for the lasagne.

My companion had the Seasonal (Leek and Cheese) Tart (with salad) (£8.35) and I had the Vegetable Lasagne (£8.35) with loads of different homemade salads.  I particularly liked the fact that none of these contained mayonnaise.  Mayonnaise is a pet hate of mine.  My companion said that the tart was very tasty - it certainly looked good.  The lasagne was really good too - the accompanying salad was fresh and there was lots of it. I liked the fact there was a mixture of salad, beans, grains and a fresh coleslaw.  A large salad on its own is £6.10.

There is a self-service bar which you slide your tray along, where you can see the food - I realise that the food is made earlier in the day, and is not cooked to order, but sometimes it is nice to be able to see something that you fancy and order it.  Yes, it is rude to point, but sometimes it gets you something really tasty!  Similarly with the accompanying salads - there were several of them in big dishes and it was possible to ask the serving staff for a 'mixture of all of them' as I did, or you could pick and choose as you preferred.

Overall, the service was very good, the food was excellent and we enjoyed our lunch very much.  My only quibbles would be that the pasta in the lasagne was very soft - my personal preference is for it to be a bit firmer, but that's just me.  It is a great place to take a well-earned break from the shopping, but it is a good enough place that you could go
there as a destination in its own right.  I have been there many times for lunch and never been disappointed.  I've also had their cream tea which was scrummy!  I must also point out their website with some really good recipes - I once made their homity pie using Devon blue cheese, broccoli and chives and it was very good.