National Afternoon Tea Week celebrated at SIX Panoramic Brasserie, Cambridge : August 2017

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To celebrate National Afternoon Tea Week I sampled a traditional Afternoon Tea yesterday with two friends at SIX, the restaurant at The Varsity Hotel in Cambridge.

SIX is located on the top floor beneath The Roof Top Garden of The Varsity Hotel and Spa with its own terraces for al fresco dining and breathtaking 360° panoramic views across the Cambridge skyline.IMG_0900 (2)IMG_0910 (3)

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To accompany the Afternoon Tea we chose interesting tea blends from an impressive selection

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We started with delicious finger sandwiches which included smoked salmon and watercress mayo, Coronation chicken, cream cheese and cucumber and ham and mustard fillings
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IMG_0925 (2) Before we moved onto the cakes we enjoyed warm freshly baked fruit and plain scones with strawberry preserve and Cornish clotted cream

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We were spoilt with sweet treats at SIX which included a three chocolate mousse mini-dessert, a blueberry and custard tartlet, an orange and chocolate macaron and an indulgent dark chocolate truffle. I was delighted that we were able to order fresh pots of tea at no additional cost too.

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One of the spectacular views over Cambridge from the terrace at SIX

SIX is located on the sixth floor of this boutique hotel with floor to ceiling windows ensuring spectacular views of the historic Cambridge skyline. This is certainly a magnificent location for enjoying Afternoon Tea in Cambridge, and the food and service are of a high standard so it ticks all the boxes.

The traditional Afternoon Tea at SIX remains faithful to the classic combination of finger sandwiches, followed by warm scones served accompanied by clotted cream and Jam and a selection of sweet treats. I was particularly impressed with the extensive loose-leaf tea menu which featured many interesting and unusual blends from Ceylon, China, and India.

Vegetarian and gluten free Afternoon Tea options are available and booking is essential as all the food is freshly-made daily.

Afternoon Tea at SIX is available Monday to Friday: 2 pm – 4.30 pm at £19.50 per person or on Saturday and Sunday: 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm at £24.50 per person.

Afternoon Tea Week is an annual celebration of one of this nation’s favourite traditions. Whether it’s enjoyed in a 5-star hotel, or as a home baked treat, we British love the combination of savoury and sweet treats, accompanied by some of the 165 million cups of tea we drink each day in the UK!six

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There is also a stunning Rooftop Bar and Terrace at The Varsity Hotel which is open from 12 -10 pm (weather permitting)
SIX at The Varsity Hotel & Spa
Thompsons Lane,
Cambridge
CB5 8AQ

Trinity restaurant for fine dining quality food: Cambridge August 2017

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Trinity is located on Trinity Street in Cambridge at the heart of the historic centre

This week Steve and I enjoyed a superb meal at Trinity which opened its doors four months ago and quickly established itself as the number one place to eat in Cambridge. We have tried to visit this restaurant on four previous occasions but something always prevented us going so I had booked a table in advance and kept my fingers crossed! When the day came Steve was unavoidably delayed so I had to phone Trinity and say we would be about one hour late, but they were very accommodating and held the table for us. On arrival, it was busy with a great atmosphere and the service was prompt, friendly and efficient. I particularly liked the fact that chilled water was placed on the table without having to ask. We loved the decor too!IMG_20170810_2257519 (2)

We started our evening with a glass of fizz and complimentary bread and oil whilst we perused the a la carte menu which although small did have a good selection of seafood dishes, and Steve was looking forward to sampling the oysters.

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I chose the lentil and goats’ curd salad, with salt baked beetroot for my starter – very pleasing to the eye and the tastebuds!

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For his starter Steve chose raw oysters, served on ice with lemon, tabasco and pickled shallots
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For my main I chose pan-fried sea trout, crab bisque, and seared green cabbage, with dill oil
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Steve’s very attractive main course of pork tenderloin with cauliflower and mustard puree, pomme anna, pickled cauliflower, radish and frisse salad, and nasturtium oil and flowers
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We shared a side dish of savoy cabbage and smoked pancetta
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My dessert of Amaretti and lemon cheesecake, orange jelly, and honeycomb with lemon mascarpone was rich and tangy
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Steve chose the English cheese board which featured good-sized portions of Cambridge Blue, Norfolk Dapple and Suffolk Gold

Trinity is an elegant and stylish restaurant which serves tasty food in fine dining style where the surroundings are relaxed and informal. It’s a lot bigger than it appears from the outside and there is a downstairs seating area too. Following in the footsteps of sister restaurant Varsity on St Andrew’s Street, Trinity has the same emphasis on great flavours and knowledgeable service with a finely tuned Modern British menu celebrating carefully sourced fish and meat. The food is exceptionally well-presented with evidence of some real cheffy artistry at work, and it was delivered to table very promptly. (Impressive on a busy night and a sure sign of a well-run kitchen.) We were served by Ashley who was professional, warm and enthusiastic and a real asset to the restaurant.

Trinity is not the place for an inexpensive meal out but it’s ideal for a special occasion or celebration and excellent value for food which tasted as good as it looked. We paid £38 per head for three courses without drinks or service. Highly recommended and we’ll certainly be going back!

Trinity

15 Trinity Street

Cambridge

CB2 1TB

Tel: 01223 322130

info@trinitycambridge.co.uk

http://www.trinitycambridge.co.uk

Wyken Vineyards and The Leaping Hare restaurant, Suffolk : August 2017

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This is a working farm which has successfully diversified and is collectively known as Wyken Vineyards. The Leaping Hare comprises a classy interiors shop, cafe and restaurant, and there is a vineyard and lovely gardens which are open to the public and all are part of the private estate of Wyken Hall.     

Wyken Vineyards is located approx 11 miles from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and it had been highly recommended by a friend as a splendid destination for a day out in the countryside.

Wyken Farmers’ Market which is located in the old stables block was open from 9-1 when I visited last Saturday with a companion. After a look around the stalls, we found the Leaping Hare restaurant for a spot of lunch. As an aside I have to say that the name of this restaurant appeals to me almost as much as ‘The Giggling Squid’ Thai restaurant in Bury St Edmunds. (Unusual names must be a Suffolk thing!)   

It was one of those typically changeable English summer days when there was a heavy rain shower one minute followed by bursts of bright sunshine the next, so we were wearing macs and sunglasses!IMG_0831 (2)

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The Wyken Farmers’ Market features an impressive mix of stalls from local producers
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The Leaping Hare restaurant is located in the 400-year-old barn
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We started our lunch with ice-cold sparkling orange and cranberry drinks
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We both chose the Eggs Benedict dish for our lunch
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Still thirsty and enjoying a leisurely-paced lunch we ordered a pot of tea each 
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My companion chose a slice of light and moist carrot cake instead of a dessert
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I chose a delicious slice of Blueberry Cheesecake for my dessert
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An outdoor seating area was available outside the cafe/restaurant for days when it wasn’t raining!
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I couldn’t resist bringing home a bottle of Good Dog Ale for Steve! An English Pale Ale style beer brewed by Wyken Vineyards

Wyken Vineyards restaurant, The Leaping Hare, is located in the 400-year-old barn. A Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide and now in its 15th year in The Good Food Guide, the restaurant tries to source their ingredients from a five-mile radius, so the beef, lamb, game and eggs are local (and when possible from the Wyken farm and estate) with fruit, herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden.

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Curious sign on the entrance door into the restaurant!

Wyken Cafe, which serves breakfasts and lunches daily, is also located in the barn and offers a lighter menu choice with the same quality of food and service as the elegant restaurant. Prices were on the high side but the food was exceptionally tasty. We paid £20 a head for our lunch which included two soft drinks each, cake/dessert and service.

There was also a Summer Exhibition in the Leaping Hare Cafe Gallery of limited edition prints of watercolours by Eric Ravillious.

Wyken Shop – The Leaping Hare Country Store wyken store

This very attractive and stylish shop apparently sells wool throws and blankets from Scotland and Ireland, braided rugs from North Carolina, French grape-picking baskets, Panama hats from Ecuador, and much, much more. The Leaping Hare Country Store also included the book room which houses a selection of books from small specialist publishers. I particularly liked the designer pottery, the chic and classic clothes and accessories, and their range of unusual cards and gift wrap. This veritable cornucopia of beautiful and useful household items and consumables was an ideal place to buy presents. I came home with a bottle of Good Dog Ale brewed by Wyken Vineyards for Steve!

The Wyken Farmers’ Market

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At The Wyken Farmers’ Market, there was an impressive selection of stalls from local producers including farmers, bakers, and a distillery. I noticed fish, artisan cheese and fine tea stalls, and an abundance of organic fruit, veg, plants, flowers and herbs for sale.
The Market is open from 9 am to 1 pm every Saturday.
The Vineyard
 
Wyken is a 1200-acre working farm which includes a flock of Shetland sheep, a small herd of Red Poll cattle and in 1988 they established a 7-acre vineyard with some 12,000 vines. It has produced award-winning wines, including the English Wine of the Year, and in 2009 their ‘Wyken Bacchus’ won the East Anglian Wine of the Year,
On average they produce some 12,000 bottles a year, and these are all sold through their Shop and Restaurant. From the Leaping Hare, you can take a walk to the vineyard over Home Meadow and through the beautiful ancient woodland of the estate.
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Wyken Hall Gardens

wykenThese beautiful formal gardens surrounding the Elizabethan manor house are crammed with topiary, herbs, roses, and fruit trees and you may see meandering peacocks, guinea fowl and chickens too!

The gardens are open from 27th March until the end of September, from 2 – 6 pm daily (except Saturday unfortunately, but all the more reason for a return visit!)

 
 

 

dArry’s Liquor Loft and Restaurant – independent and distinctive, Cambridge: July 2017

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dArry’s is located in King Street, Cambridge

For the third blog post in my series on roof terrace bars to be found in Cambridge, we headed for dArry’s Liquor Loft and Restaurant this week. I’ve been intending to seek out this popular venue since the loft space and roof terrace opened at dArry’s last year. I had also realised that it’s been over two years since we had last eaten at dArry’s restaurant so I was pleased to find that on Tuesdays they still have Steak Night. Regulars readers of my blog will know that my partner Steve loves a steak, but I invariably choose a fish or veggie main course.IMG_20170725_2027147 (2).jpgIMG_0812.JPG

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We enjoyed a refreshing G and T for an aperitif from a wide selection of gins available in the Liquor Loft bar
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Being a Tuesday we took advantage of Steak Night at dArry‘s

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I chose Bread and Olives to share as my starter
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I enjoyed sharing Steve’s starter of Padron Peppers pan flashed with sea salt, which were delicious

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Steve’s main course of Rump Steak with mushrooms and balsamic roasted tomatoes, salad and hand cut chips
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My main course of asparagus and sun-dried tomato risotto with Parmesan shavings was a huge portion

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For my dessert, I couldn’t resist the pretty presentation of the white and dark chocolate fondant with dipped strawberries
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It came as no surprise that Steve chose the cheese board accompanied by a glass of Reisling!

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dArray’s certainly has a lot to offer punters! For example, I liked the idea of the Private Dining available in their Wine Shop

At dArry’s restaurant the service was friendly, professional and prompt and prices were very reasonable. The menu could be described as modern British with a Mediterranean feel and we paid £25 a head for 3 courses without drinks and service. The addition of the Liquor Loft and roof terrace to dArry’s sheltered courtyard area offers even more opportunity for al fresco dining in the summer months. Bookings are only taken for large parties but they can usually seat walk-ins. dArry’s is an attractive cocktail bar and eatery with distinctive design features which also offers a wide range of events from live music to wine tasting. So lots of reasons to make a return visit and I’m more than happy to recommend it!

dArry’s liquor Loft and Restaurant

2 – 4 King Street

Cambridge

CB1 1LN

Tel: 01223 505015

http://www.darrys.co.uk

 

De Luca for classic Italian cuisine and a roof terrace to boot! Cambridge: July 2017

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De Luca’s roof terrace offers a view over Parkers Piece in Cambridge

Last night Steve and I decided to revisit an old favourite eatery of mine De Luca Cucina and Bar which is an independent modern Italian restaurant in Cambridge. It was a warm and sunny summers evening so we hoped to dine on the roof terrace, and although it’s not possible to reserve a table there we weren’t disappointed.

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De Luca Cucina and Bar is located on Regent Street in Cambridge
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We started our evening with an aperitif. Aperol Spritz, a traditional Italian cocktail for me and a classic Martini cocktail with olives for Steve 

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To start I opted for a selection of rustic Italian breads served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and Kalamata and boscaiola olives marinated in virgin olive oil with mushrooms, sweet peppers, garlic and herbs, which we shared.

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Steve’s colourful starter of Deep fried crispy squid served with sweet chilli and ginger relish, rocket and lemon

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For my main course I chose the pasta ‘special’ dish of rigatoni with parma ham in a creamy white wine sauce with gorgonzola, dressed with rocket

 

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Steve chose Linguine ai Frutti di mare for his main course. A feast of mussels, clams, prawns, squid with chilli, garlic, white wine and fresh tomato served with a whole king prawn
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De Luca offers a delightful space for al fresco dining

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As usual, Steve chose the cheese board for his dessert which had a selection of interesting Italian regional cheeses, with bread, fruit and celery

For my dessert I chose Affogato al caffe, – hot espresso and Amaretto poured over homemade vanilla ice cream. Steve sampled an Expre coffee liqueur as a nightcap.

For affordable prices and good quality freshly-cooked food which is well presented with friendly and courteous staff De Luca is highly recommended. (We paid £28 per person for 3 courses from the a la carte menu without drinks or service.) It doesn’t surprise me that De Luca Cucina and Bar was a finalist in the Cambridge News Food and Drink Awards last year and I wish it more success in 2017.

In addition to their delicious food, De Luca has a Top Floor Cocktail Lounge which becomes Cambridge’s only Piano Bar on Friday and Saturday evenings. Cocktail-making classes are also available and having tried one of these sessions myself I can guarantee it’s great fun if you fancy a boozy night out!

For more information see their website http://www.delucacucina.co.uk

De Luca Cucina and Bar

83 Regent Street

Cambridge

CB2 1AW

Tel : 01223 35 66 66

 

 

Brunch and cocktails at NOVI bar and kitchen, Cambridge: July 2017

Yesterday I sampled the Brunch menu at Novi bar and kitchen with two friends. I’ve been meaning to eat and drink there since it came on the scene in 2015 and never quite got around to it! To coincide with Novi’s 2nd anniversary last month I heard that it had opened a Living Room terrace which I was very keen to see. It was good to note many gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options on the menu and although fairly expensive the food, drinks and service didn’t disappoint.

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Novi is centrally located on Regent Street in Cambridge
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The achingly hip interior of Novi is light, airy and spacious 
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We sampled a couple of Novi’s famous cocktails, Breakfast Martini – juniper green organic gin, cointreau, marmalade, and fresh lemon juice, and Frank & Earnest – kraken spiced rum, cold brew coffee, almond milk, homemade gingerbread syrup, fresh cardamom, and molasses bitters
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And a mixed berry smoothie for the driver!

From the extensive Brunch menu which is served from 9am to 4pm daily, two of us chose healthy and nutritious veggie salads. My other friend ordered a large plate from the Daytime menu of Sirloin steak sandwich, silverskin onions, salad, gherkins, and creamed horseradish on sourdough, with a side of polenta chips.

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Roasted squash, kale, lentils, and crispy beetroot salad with a honey-mustard dressing
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Another interesting salad of Feta cheese, pomegranate, toasted walnuts, and mixed leaves with a pomegranate dressing IMG_0725 (2)

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We shared a side dish of Parmesan and rosemary polenta chips
After our brunch we went upstairs to explore the new roof terrace. This al fresco seating area has already become a popular spot so we were lucky to find an empty table where we enjoyed huge slices of cookies and cream cake with iced coffees. 

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The recently opened roof terrace at Novi is sheltered and stylish with lots of wood and plants creating a very attractive outdoor spaceIMG_0731 (2)

 

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Sitting in the sun relaxing with our drinks on the terrace we all agreed it was a perfect way to spend a summer Saturday afternoon. Highly recommended. Novi we will definitely be returning!

 

NOVI

12 REGENT STREET 

CAMBRIDGE

CB2 1DB

01223 518537 

http://www.novicambridge.co.uk

OPEN MON – SAT: 9AM – 3 AM and SUN: 9AM – 11PM

The delights of Nancy’s Vintage Teashop, Newmarket, Suffolk: June 2017

Last week my daughter and I enjoyed a delightful Afternoon Tea at Nancy’s Vintage Teashop in Newmarket. It had been recommended to me by two people recently so I was keen to try this local independent teashop for myself and I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint.

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Nancy’s Vintage Teashop is located on Old Station Road in Newmarket, at the Clock Tower end of the High Street.

 

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Nancy’s classic Afternoon Tea was served on a vintage three-tiered cake stand full of tasty treats. I was very surprised by this as it’s unusual to be given a stand each and very generous too!
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This classic Afternoon Tea featured a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with jam and cream, a mini dessert and petit fours. At £15 per person, it was excellent value for money.
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All Nancy’s food is home-baked on the premises and she pointed out that even the Battenburg cake was made in the colours of their own pink and brown livery – a cute touch!
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The delicious strawberry and cream mini-desserts and the scones were fresh, light and tasty and I was so busy eating them I forgot to take photos before I tucked in!

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IMG_0691.JPG At Nancy’s a choice of 20 unique blends of tea or coffee are available to accompany the food
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We were too full to eat all the cakes so we both brought them home in a bespoke goodie box!

Nancy’s Teashop in Newmarket has been serving specially blended teas, with Afternoon Tea being a speciality for four years now, and it’s deservedly created a brand with a good reputation. At Nancy’s it’s obvious that traditional standards of service and quality are paramount, and all the food is homemade on the premises and locally sourced. If you are visiting Newmarket, I can highly recommend Nancy’s to enjoy tasty treats in this elegant and comfortable vintage-themed teashop, which is styled with an eclectic mix of mismatching antique teapots and china, patchwork sofas, pastel pink dining chairs, and hand-sewn collages and bunting. Altogether bright, attractive and highly effective, and I would say that Nancy’s is the best value quality Afternoon Tea I have come across yet!

Due to popular demand, the owner and founder of the teashop Nancy Clack has recently opened an Afternoon Tea Lounge above the teashop. Seating 24 people and plushly furnished it reflects the same quirky vintage hand-crafted feel as the cafe below. Bookings for the Afternoon Tea Lounge from parties of four upwards are available from 27th June. I suggest that this venue would be perfect to enjoy Nancy’s Classic Afternoon Teas for special occasions like birthday parties, anniversaries, baby and bridal showers.

 

Nancy’s Vintage Teashop

18 Old Station Road

Newmarket

Suffolk

CB8 8DN

Tel : 01638 667064

http://www.nancysteashop.co.uk

enquiries@nancysteashop.co.uk

 

 

A celebration lunch at The Packhorse Inn, Moulton, near Newmarket, Suffolk : June 2017

Last week I had lunch at the award-winning Packhorse Inn with two friends to celebrate a birthday. It was a glorious summer day and our meal at this five star AA restaurant and hotel owned by the Chestnut Group didn’t disappoint. Moulton is an idyllic village located to the north east of Newmarket, and just beyond “The Gallops” where they exercise the racehorses.

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The Packhorse Inn is located on Bridge Street, in the picturesque village of Moulton near Newmarket, the home of horse-racing 
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These freshly baked rolls and canapes made an excellent appetiser
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A starter of blow-torched mackerel for one of my companions
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For my starter I chose Salmon and dill fishcakes with fennel salad
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Another starter of Quail with pea mash

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I chose a hearty-sized main course of veggie risotto 
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Another main course – Scampi with fries
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Sea trout with globe artichokes was another of our main courses
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Two of us chose the blackcurrant soufflé and raspberry sorbet for dessert
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Another dessert – Coffee and Chocolate bar with Guinness ice cream

We all enjoyed our splendid three-course meal from the a la carte menu which was beautifully presented. The bill came to £40 per person including drinks which I thought was on the pricey side, but then this was a birthday celebration lunch so it was well worth pushing the boat out!

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The picturesque Packhorse Bridge at Moulton, near Newmarket, Suffolk

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This pretty four-arched late medieval bridge spans the River Kennett on the old route from Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds

The Packhorse Inn

Bridge Street

Moulton

Newmarket

Suffolk

CB8 8SP

Tel: 01638751818

http://www.thepackhorseinn.com

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Afternoon Tea and a spa stay at Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA, near St Neots, Beds: June 2017

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Last Sunday my daughter and I enjoyed an excellent Afternoon Tea in The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA, near St. Neots in Bedfordshire. To celebrate my daughters birthday we were booked into the hotel for the *Sunday Runaway spa package, (details below). Set in 350 acres, this modern 4 star hotel and spa, with a golf course and leisure centre is 2.8 miles from the market town of St. Neots.

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The Waterfront restaurant at Wyboston Lakes is in a lovely location
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A choice of loose-leaf tea was available with refills at no extra cost
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We were delighted to receive a glass of bubbly on the house as it was a special occasion
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This traditional Afternoon Tea had everything we would expect and more…..
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The ham on brioche was a delicious twist on the usual sandwich selection
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The food was served on pretty pink floral china
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The plain scones were served warm with strawberry jam and clotted cream
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The Waterfront traditional Afternoon Tea cost a very reasonable £13.95 per person
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My daughter ended her meal with a complimentary cup of coffee 
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The extensive terrace area outside the lounge bar and restaurant

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We enjoyed relaxing in the fabulous outdoor Hydrotherapy pool at Y Spa, Wyboston Lakes

*SUNDAY RUNAWAY Y Spa stay 

This Sunday night break includes dinner, bed and breakfast, and a full day’s use of thermal spa facilities on Monday which includes a two-course buffet lunch and a choice of one of the following treatments.

  • Y Spa Fresh Face
  • Y Spa Soothing Scalp
  • Y Spa Happy Hands

£119 per person

To book call 0333 7007 667 or email reservations@wybostonlakes.co.uk

 (Many thanks to Wyboston Lakes Hotel for use of the Spa photographs)

Wyboston Lakes Hotel and SPA,

Great North Road,

Wyboston,

Bedfordshire

MK44 3AL

http://www.wybostonlakes.co.uk

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The Castle and Espigueiros of Lindosa, Northern Portugal : May 2017

On a recent holiday in Northern Portugal, Steve and I spent a day touring the National Park of Peneda Gerês. We were particularly keen to see the famous centuries-old corn cribs (espigueiros) at Lindoso village, which is located 25 km from Ponte da Barca.

The medieval Castle of Lindoso dates back to the 13th century and stands on a small rocky outcrop beside the village. The espigueiros and the castle are set in beautiful scenery and in addition to the fresh mountain air, there is a wonderful sense of peace and tranquillity. It was a highlight of our holiday and a memorable experience.

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The Castle of Lindoso and the espigueiros are located in the National Park of Peneda Gerês

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The view of the espigueiros and the village from the castle ramparts. It’s a surreal and incongruous mix of the historic espigueiros and modern housing at Lindoso. IMG_0548 (2)

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Skillfully sculptured and meticulously constructed, these amazing old stone espigueiros were used to store corn cobs and designed to protect the maize from rodents and rain. At Lindoso there is a threshing-ground composed of 50 granaries dating back to the 18-19th centuries. They are located near the castle and constitute a unique and beautiful agglomerate. Made entirely of granite, slatted for ventilation and topped by a protective cross each one is supported by mushroom-shaped stilts standing on rock. IMG_0539 (2) (2).JPGIMG_0541 (1).JPGIMG_0544The frontier village of Lindoso is the location of one of Portugal’s best-preserved collections of granaries or espigueiros800px-LindosoCastle2

Lindoso Castle is a defence monument built in the 13th century during the Restoration Wars. Inside the walls of the fortress, the garrison houses, the chapel, and the oven are in ruins. The drawbridge was intact and looked to have been recently restored. There were outstanding views from the sentry posts on all sides of the ramparts.

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Lindoso village with its castle and unique and beautiful espigueiros set in spectacular scenery are well worth a visit if you are travelling in Northern Portugal.