"It's not much but it's ours"

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Finally, back on the road.

I had anticipated a few days in Rotherham to catch up with my e-mails following my time in Scotland, but I had not expected to be snowed in and stuck in Chateau Majumdar with little to sustain me but 200 channels of TV, a packed pantry, an overflowing fridge and a selection of wine that would pass muster in a provincial restaurant

It was hell people you have no idea.

But, at 6am this morning, the journey had to begin again. I am, after all on a schedule. It was North to the borders with Scotland in search of one of the great favourites on my EATING FOR BRITAIN list, puddings. God I adore puddings.

Even in Britain’s darkest post war days, serving some of the most wretched food in the whole world, the rest of God’s creation still had to bend the knee before our ability to bake and steam. No book about British food would be complete without a mention, in fact a huge, shout out loud celebration of them.

I had been given the name of Susan Green, a Northumbrian Farmer’s wife and former solicitor who now runs a company called The Proof is In The Pudding just outside Alnwick, which sells to retail and restaurants locally and to the rest of you (pay attention now, you will be wanting to buy them) by mail order.

I was a bit late arriving at the Green’s charming farmhouse because of an road accident South of Newcastle (as if being near to Newcastle wasn’t bad enough) so, by the time I finally arrived, the small kitchen was already in full swing and the smell of steaming pudding filled the air. Just in case you are stupid enough to wonder, that is never, ever a bad thing.

Susan, bless her had a pot of tea on the Aga and, as we sipped on a restorative brew, she gave me a potted history about how she set up the company to supplement declining income on the farm. Now, it is a local but major business and, The Proof of The Pudding produces eight different types of pudding, including of course, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Lemon Pudding, Golden Syrup Pudding and a true British classic, Spotted Dick.

After much experimentation, Susan decided to eschew suet in favour of butter, which made the puddings lighter but also made them available to vegetarians. Also, where possible, she uses ingredients from local producers. All that would be well and good, but if the puddings did not pass muster, quite frankly, who cares? Susan chose a beautifully parcelled sample of God’s own Spotted Dick from the storage fridge and gave it a blast in the microwave for me (she said that only the chocolate and syrup puddings really benefited from steaming) and served me the whole damn thing with a good dribble of cream.

Was it good? Let the picture of a plate, clean of crumbs answer that.

We are beginning to rediscover our pride in the food of Great Britain, let us begin with being proud of something which never let us down in the first place. Let us all praise the pudding.

After such a spiritual moment, I needed a time of quiet contemplation and made my way to the holy Island of Lindisfarne, where the eerie silence of the causeway gave me inner strength for the next trip to the borders and Berwick on Tweed and The chain Bridge Honey Farm.

Unfortunately, there was not much going on when I arrived as much of the extraction had been done for the day and their apiaries were quite some distance away. However, I still got a taste and came away with a bag of goodies to try later on, so, in answer to Mr Brooke, yes there was honey still for tea

Next up, Kippers and chilli, interesting Northumbrian bedfellows

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to know there's good stuff to be had north of Alnwick. I'd always thought of it as a culinary desert (apart from Craster kippers which are "the business"). We're having a week up there later in the year.

I recall from a previous trip that there's a boozer on Lindisfarne that did a halfway decent lunch. Rather a surprise as the island is Tourist Central.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009 10:50:00 pm  

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