DOS HERMANOS OOP NORTH: DAY THREE – THE FINAL MEAL
They call Yorkshire God’s own country and they are not wrong. It really is preternaturally beautiful and, when I woke up even more bleary eyed than the day before ( if such were possible ) I took the opportunity of a short stroll with Paul the three miles to the Priory and back and reminded myself why I am pleased to be a Yorkshire lad. Even if I do come frm the grimy end.
Before all of this, of course, another brekkie. Made this time by Andy who had volunteered his services to give Sarah a break. Nice chap. Splendid it was too. Excellent free range eggs run through with herbs and some of the best black pudding I have tried anywhere. Just right to set me up for the walk and some fresh air.
By the time we returned, The Blacksmith’s Inn was in full Sunday Lunch effect and Gary was on the owner’s side of the bar pulling pints like a man born to it. Sarah was whizzing around welcoming the early lunch guests and Hermano Primero? Well, he was propping up the bar and already a pint of Tim Taylor’s to the good.
Paul was ready for the off by now and headed off in his little Weeble wagon across the Pennines to Hale which left DH on our own to gird our loins and enjoy a traditional Sunday lunch of pork or beef which Andy had topped and tailed with a few extra courses just in case we had not eaten enough over the weekend.
Watching the plates of roast meats coming out to the other diners, I thought I would struggle to even start let alone finish the splendid looking portions, but one taste of a butternut squash soup with a surprise chunk of black pudding at the bottom had my appetite up and running and ready for battle.
Next up, a forcemeat ball wrapped in blanched cabbage which reminded me of the Golobki my Polish ex used to cook for me. This was stuffed with pheasant and chicken livers, served on a celeriac mash and topped with some splendid wild mushrooms. A meal in itself.
But no. We had more to come. A chunk of coley came encased in a batter made with Tim Taylor’s and sat on top of a perfect pea puree. As a little extra Andy had added a tender scallop with some home made ketchup.
Then to the main event. We had both chosen pork although the beef looked pretty fine too. What we got was a huge slab of Berkshire with great crackling around it and some spectacular duck fat roasted potatoes. Andy had also thrown in a huge Yorkshire pudding which was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside as it should be. As if this were not enough there was yet one more slice of that incredible sea salt crackling for which I had developed an almost obscene affection on Friday.
We had pudding. How we managed it I shall never know, but we did. Some rather good home made ice creams of which a toffee apple one was the star.
By the time we had finished off all this lot, downed the last of a very agreeable St Emilion and a small snifter, we were ready for the off.
By now it was the end of service. Gary was still pulling pints for the last remaining guests. Andy was giving someone the benefit of his forthright opinions and Sarah, well, of course, she was still hard at work probably fumigating our vacated rooms, poor love.
The journey home was, shall we say, an interesting one and the antediluvian nature of the train tracks on the under funded rail network gave me regular reminders of how much we had eaten over the last few days
But it was worth it. Worth it to see Yorkshire in all its winter sunlight splendour. Worth it to try a few new restaurants. Some good, some more mixed. But, most of all it was worth it to see Gary again, meet the lovely Sarah and to encounter Andy. All passionate about making this as enjoyable experience for everyone as possible.
If they ever did an encyclopaedic definition of the perfect weekend in the perfect country restaurant with rooms, they should just show a picture of The Blacksmith’s Inn.