Sunday, 16 December 2012

Gastronomical Delight

Wow.  What a weekend.  I think our bellies are going to need a rest.  Either that or we performed some good stretching exercises to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

On Saturday night, we had a wonderful evening with our neighbors Jo and Tom (shown above) and their boys Max and Leo.

Here are the boys ready to dig in.  (Nicole was at a friend's birthday party/sleepover.)  For the Americans out there, those are "Christmas crackers" on the table (wiki link).   You pull it from both ends and it pops.  There's a small toy, a joke and a paper hat inside (typically).  It's a big hit for the kids.

The picture simply does not do Jo's feast justice.  What an outstanding meal.  I can't imagine preparing so many things and having them ready at the same time.  Well done, Jo!  We had pork loin, sausages, dressing, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots, red cabbage, regular cabbage and gravy.  (Now you see what I mean!).  Not to mention smoked salmon starters and a homemade apple crumb cake/pie/tart with cream.  Unbelievable.  They had to roll us out the door at the end of the night.

 The boys were "sleeping" during the after dinner movie but the two older ones were simply playing 'possum.  (Heard that phrase, UK friends?).

Given that this is our last weekend here before Christmas, I wanted to have a traditional Christmas carvery.  I tried to get into the Coopers Arms last year but let it wait too long.  This year I booked it a few weeks in advance.  Fortunately, it wasn't until 2:15 on Sunday.  I didn't eat until then (nor did I need to).

The Coopers Arms is located in the small village of Weston on Trent about 15 minutes south of Derby.   Feels like a different world but nothing is really that far away.  They have a pond for people to fish in and some picnic tables for warmer times.

You can see we had our second weekend in a row with nice weather.  It's odd here when the skies are clear and the sun is out during this time of year because the sun never gets all that high.  It pretty much just at eye-blinding level.

As you know, we are approaching the shortest day of the year.  Believe me, it's quite short.  Today sunrise was 8:13 and sunset was 3:50 (!) though there's a little twilight on either side of that.  We've been in the dark going/coming to work for some time now.  Ready to start the upswing!

It was about this time that we went to a carvery last year (see earlier post).  You tell the waitress what you are having and then you go get in the carvery queue to tell them what you are having.  They put the meat, roasted potatoes and Yorkshire pudding on your plate and then you top it off with more potatoes and vege.  You certainly don't leave hungry.

A tried something new:  a lamb shank.  I've had plenty of lamb here in the UK as it is quite good, but I don't think I've had a shank, certainly not a whole one.  It was fine, but I think I prefer the meatier bits of the leg.  This resembled a turkey drumstick in texture though not taste.

It was all good, though it couldn't complete with Jo's spread from the night before.

And to top it all off, other neighbors of ours, Trev and Mandy, had the 3 families from our cul-de-sac over for "drinks" later in the evening.  The drinks also came with loads of delicious finger food and "puddings" (desserts).  I think I was still digesting lunch but I found a little room.

Here's Nicole and the 6 dwarfs (okay not really, but all the boys are younger than she).  We let her scoot back to the house while the rest of use continued to enjoy the food, drink and company.

Trev is a real hoot.  He set up a competition/game that involved winding a string tied to a spoon around a "peg" (clothespin).  All the kids had a go and then the adults as well.  It's always the simple things.   Good times.  Thanks for having us!

Not to be completely out done, I did keep to the food theme and tried another "15-minute" recipe from Jamie Oliver's book.  This one was Thai Chicken Laska.  The chicken was [George Foreman] grilled with honey, lime and sesame.  The "laska" was noodles in a squash and coconut milk sauce with a fairly complex seasoning concoction as well.  Not bad, but not outstanding either.  I'll probably keep the chicken dish in mind though.

Well, I've either made you hungry or full.  Hope you've enjoyed it.

I'll be taking a few weeks off from the blog.  We'll be heading back to the States to visit family over Christmas.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

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