Tag Archives: UK

The Broadway Hotel, Broadway

2015-02-18 20.09.11

England.  It is a quaint country.  Characterised by differing regions, each with their own uniqueness.  People.  Architecture.  History.  Landscape.  Dialect.  Sports teams.  Beer.  Etc.  It’s this tapestry of personality which makes traveling through England a hugely enjoyable experience, with towns and cities sometimes only miles apart offering the visitor endless opportunities to experience this tapestry effect in action.  Sheffield  and Manchester.  Portsmouth and Southampton.  And I’m not just talking about football.

The Cotswolds are situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in south central England and offer the visitor an unrivaled English countryside experience with it’s rolling hills, pretty villages, constant supply of cream teas and houses built with the distinctive oolitic limestone, also know as Cotswold Stone.


Equally exciting for the visitor is the wide variety of things to see ranging from the expansive country estates of Blenheim Palace and Sudeley Castle to the Cotswold Falconry Centre and Adam Henson‘s (the jolly red-headed rare breeds protector from the BBC’s Countryfile) Cotswold Farm Park.  His rabbit stroking zone and tractor rides are particular highlights…

Broadway is situated to the northern end of the Cotswolds and is a jewel to behold, and a hugely popular tourist attraction with both British and international visitors alike.  It’s overlooked by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown‘s and James Wyatt‘s impressive Broadway Tower which offers some of the most spectacular views over the surrounding area.

Broadway Tower

However most importantly, it’s home to the Broadway Hotel, the purveyor of the subject of this post, namely the Cinnamon crème brûlée with spiced berry compote…!


In fairness, the ‘come hither’ warm sticky toffee pudding (as chosen by one of my dining comrades) was almost the cause of my abandoning the firm and singular expectation of this blog namely, ‘If its on the menu, you have to order it…’.

Normally, an air of mild panic sets in if a chef plays with the flavours in the base brûlée custard, but on this occasion their cinnamon infusion was subtle and almost Christmassy in execution (despite this being a February evening…!).  Combined with the buttery shortbread and crisp, palette cleansing berry compote, this was in fact a fine and surprisingly enjoyable custardy culinary interlude!  Maybe it was the dark evening, or the day spent outside exploring the local area in the brisk February weather, but my tastebuds were suitably aroused  by what the spoon threw at them hence, the Broadway Hotel’s cinnamon special earns a respectable 7/10.  Good job Broadway Hotel…!

Chez Millard, New Years Eve 2014, Ascot


New Years Eve is a very special day. It’s marks the end of one year and beginning the next one. I apologise in advance for the obviousness of this statement.  Metaphorically, it’s the day that allows the chucking out of all the baggage from the last twelve months with the hope that it wasn’t labelled ‘return to sender’, and the opening of the first page of a new novel which isn’t yet written.

With resolutions in hand, the 1st of January demands a new focus on abstinence, especially after the excesses of the previous week, and a steady hand on the tiller of expectation setting for the year to come… Now, the author of this blog knows quite clearly that abstinence is something which has to be avoided given it’s premise: If it’s on the menu…etc. Fortunately, my New Years Eve party chums were a good mixture of ages and so the resolutions came in many flavours; improve my handwriting, spend more time keeping up with old friends, ride my bike for 120 miles in a day, study hard for important exams, amongst others. I love this kind of optimism. To lean into the idealistic just briefly, it’s these kind of wishes that give hope to the idea that anything can be achieved if a little effort and focus is applied… And your author hopes that you also found the 5 minutes on New Years Eve to consider your own resolutions for 2015. Feel free to tweet them to @trinitycream so we can fuse custard-based dessert blogging and New Year resolutions in one Twitter feed!


I have some wonderful friends, and tonights affair was hand-crafted by the lovely Vikki in honour of the endeavours of this blog. Based on a James Martin recipe, the crème was prepared through the careful fusing of eggs, caster sugar, cream, milk and vanilla pod, to be then caramelised by our own fair hands hands. The whole process led to much discussion about what new ideas should come to Trinity Cream in the coming months. More on that soon…

To the caramelisation – we decided two approaches were needed – a plumbers blow torch and a grill – to see how the results differed.  We captured the blow torch attempt in this somewhat chaotic video…

You will have noticed that the plumbers blow torch was way too fierce hence scorched the demerara sugar. Whilst the end result was not unpleasant, it did produce a rather thick and treacly topping which took some spoon bashing to break through. We suspected a less powerful chefs blow torch may have been a better choice. The grill produced a markedly different result…


Clearly, Vikki is a culinary genius.  The custard was very smooth and delightfully flecked with vanilla pod, leaving a very subtle hue upon on the tongue. It was neither too sweet nor too heavy, and being of the softer side of set, slipped down very easily. Much debate was had about the sugar. Is demerara the best choice? Or should one choose muscovado, caster, icing or straightforward refined white sugar for the topping? I sense a taste test coming in a future post… We accompanied dessert with a superb Beerenauslese, an Austrian Burgenland dessert wine as supplied by my official (ahem) Austrian wine supplier Rene, which offered the usual amazing velvet smoothness with gentle plumy notes.


And so to the score… Being truly objective, it was as good as the Brittany Ferries post, but in a different way. By not being produced by a hardened professional chef,  it gained from the attention to detail, self-help preparation and the fact that it was made purely to feed the myopic needs of the author of this blog! Hence a sure-footed, plumbers blow torch fueled, genuinely excellent 9 / 10 is awarded.  Nice one Viks. 🙂

Footnote:  One of our junior dinner guests enjoyed her first ever brûlée this evening…  and an empty bowl is a good enough recommendation for me. Perhaps a new convert to the cause?! All three other children refused to participate after an initial dip of the spoon. It seems more work is required by the author of this blog to encourage the junior readers to take up the challenge themselves!

Happy 2015!

Brittany Ferries Bretagne, English Channel

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Holidays.  I love them.  There’s nothing better that knowing work is over for a couple of weeks and you are going somewhere new to explore either with family or friends.  You could even be going somewhere you’ve been a few times before safe in the knowledge that everything you want is there and you know where it is so you can put your brain away and give it a rest.

I’m lucky in that part of my family lives in France so I get to spend some time relaxing in the sunshine with them knowing that the flow of wine and sunshine is unlikely to stop.  I can visit familiar places and create those lasting memories with my kids that I hope they will look back on fondly when they are older.  South West France truly is beautiful, so if you find yourself thinking where to explore or your next holiday, then I can heartily recommend the Dordogne area as a place to spending some time holidaying…

To get to France from the UK, you either have to fly, use the tunnel or take a ferry.  Taking the ferry offers the ability to bring the ‘odd’ bottle of wine back, hence I take the car.  Brittany Ferries run various services from Portsmouth, including the overnight run to Saint Malo.  This works just fine with a young family AND it has a great selection of restaurants to choose from… And so to the brûlée.

At risk of rushing ahead, tonights offering was simply superb.  I had my doubts that a passenger ferry could serve up something worth writing about, but how wrong I was.  Perhaps it’s because it was run by the French, therefore the lack of ‘focus’ that one might expect from a mass production environment was overcome by a piece of French culture that should never be ignored.  They love to eat.

The brûlée was delivered in a standard sized ramekin at room temperature, with the custard lightly flecked with vanilla pod.  The sugaring was light but firm, giving only after a second tap with the spoon.  The custard was very light and smooth with no curdling in sight hence was very pleasurable indeed!  The secret was in it’s simplicity and I found it odd that this ‘close to perfect’ brûlée was discovered in a cross channel ferry self service restaurant some where in the middle of the English Channel on a Monday evening.   I’m hoping it wasn’t a dream…  An outstanding effort worthy of a solid 9/10.

The Horse & Groom, Guildford

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Birthdays should always be celebrated, even if you do it some time after the actual event.  It’s the one day of the year which really is just for you.  In particular, Thursday nights are always a good night for a celebratory pint or two because if you over do it, you only have to drag yourself through one more day of work before the weekend starts…  Tonight’s celebration was for ‘Gordon of the Blood Orange‘ post who’s birthday passed a couple of weeks ago.  More importantly, we were not only celebrating the passing of another year but also his success following an unplanned request to deliver an important presentation to a large group of work colleagues with only two days to prepare.  Anyone who has been asked to do this will remember the moment in only one of two ways; cheery ‘here-we-go-again’ abandon or ‘unmitigated dread’…

Thankfully, Gordon is a hardy Scottish chap and was not to be fazed by this request even when the prepared presentation arrived without a single written word on it.  Clearly his skills as an accomplished public speaker were to be tested to the full…!  Six rehearsals later and the promise of sharing the stage with a certain Sir Clive Woodward resulted in plaudits from many angles and a day to remember.  Nice one Gordo…

Now to the custardly comments.  Tonight’s dessert menu served up another opportunity to see what the chef was made of and he made a reasonable attempt.  Presentation is always important as first impressions last, so imagine my surprise when it arrived in a coffee cup.  You could argue that by providing a handle to hold, the likelihood of burning a finger on a recently grilled piece of chinaware would be diminished.  Possibly a good thing, and one way to keep the ‘no win, no fee’ claimants where they belong.  However, I see the presentation of a brûlée in part an art form and therefore the selection of a random piece of coffee cup crockery probably the product of a chef under time pressure or perhaps a full dishwasher…

Firstly, it came with one of the home-baked butter biscuits dusted with icing sugar upside down on the plate.  Secondly, the sugar topping was under caramelised with some of the grains undissolved. The custard was however light and a little on the sweet side but it was certainly not heavy or curdled.   My final comment concerns the basic temperature of the custard before the caramelisation occurs.  In my view, it should be room temperature although I’m sure there will be some food health guidance which would recommend against this… This one was fridge cold.  6/10. 

The Chequers Inn, Froggatt

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It’s quite odd growing up in one part of the country to then live in another part for much longer.  For me, it asks the question of where you really call ‘home’.  Coming back to your place of birth catapults the mind back to friends, experiences, loves lost and won and in my case, many a late night in Sheffield’s Leadmill before heading to Chubbys kebab shop for a high quality protein and carbohydrate based recovery meal.  Those from Sheffield will know what I’m talking about.

Equally, having spent much of those years mountain biking around the Peak District hills, to come back with a road bike and a couple of good friends more than 20 years later in the three days before the Grand Depart Yorkshire for the 2014 Tour de France, was simply thrilling.  Chief route planner Steve plotted some testing routes including the now infamous Holme Moss climb which featured in Stage 2.  Ben from VeloViewer wrote a nice piece about the climb.  The video included is a classic insight into ‘them from Yorkshire’…


Getting the top of Holme Moss that day was a major achievement given the headwinds and driving rain we endured to get there…

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The third day out was a fairly lengthy 70 mile affair taking in the near vertical Winnats Pass (thankfully down not up it), the scenic Hope Valley, Monsal Head and a quick lap of the Chatsworth Estate before heading back to base in Buxton.  Of course, lunch was a mandated stop, so we took advantage of the well-known Chequers Inn at Froggatt and their dessert menu.

Sadly,  the brûlée did not reflect the expectations set by the main course.   The custard was too thick and heavy, perhaps caused by one too many egg yolks; the sugar was grainy not fully caramelised and way too thick; the small ramekin was much too small in relation to the large plate it was served on and was fridge cold rather than room temperature.  That said, the raspberry sorbet was an excellent foil for the rich custard and crushed amaretto biscuits were a nice touch. 4/10.

Gordon’s House, Guildford

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Gordon is a nice Scottish chap.  He’s got a PhD in something I know nothing about.  He’s got two lovely kids roughly the same age as my own.  I first met Gordon and his wife Fiona during National Childbirth Trust antenatal classes shortly before our first children were to enter the world over 10 years ago.  Very sadly, Fiona died following a battle with cancer last year and my only regret is that I didn’t get to know her better during that short period of time, proving that life is precious and you simply can’t waste it…

Gordon is doing an amazing job being a single parent and learning to cope with everything that goes with that.  The NCT boys are doing their level best to be supportive, which usually involves going out for the occasional beer and lending a helping hand when Gordon’s man skills require some additional ‘support’…!

Whilst this post has started on a sombre note, we should talk about the dessert course from our dinner this evening…  I have to note that this is the first ever crème brûlée I’ve eaten from a packet.  A Sainsburys packet at that!  Fair play to Gordon for admitting that he’d ‘messed’ with the original by sprinkling the sugar over the custard long before putting them under the grill for caramelisation… Brûlée herecy no less!  One of the challenges of a good brûlée is in the preparation of the caramelised sugar.  How thick should the sugar be?  What is the best temperature for the custard before you burn the sugar?  What method should be used to caramelise the custard?  Honestly, the list of variables is almost endless… Nonetheless, the infusion of blood orange in the basic custard was refreshing, surprising and proved that sticking to the original recipe of a simple vanilla custard and caramelised sugar is not the path to brûlée enlightenment!  However, next time Gordon, don’t mess with the product!!  6/10.

On The Rocks, Yarmouth

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Twelve months ago, myself, Mark, Steve and Matt decided to take a Friday off and cycle to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight for dinner and enjoy a couple of beers.  We reviewed Tripadvisor, selected the Harveys B&B as our bed for the night, set Steve on the route planning and looked forward to pedaling for a solid 90+ miles, including the infamous ‘Military Road‘ on the western coast of the IOW.  This year, we decided another trip out to Yarmouth was ‘required training’ for our cycling summer season, hence planned to return to the picturesque port town with a particular focus on having dinner at On The Rocks, Yarmouth’s Black Rock Grill restaurant which we had failed to eat in last year.

The ride from our start point in West Meon went well, including a short ferry ride from Portsmouth to Ryde, before completing our circumnavigation of the Isle.  78 miles later, we arrived in Yarmouth.


Now, you need to understand that On The Rocks is a ‘cook your own dinner on a hot lava stone’ restaurant…  Part of me has issues with paying to eat in restaurant where you, rather than a well-trained chef, cooks your meal.  However, the meat choices are wide and the quality high, so surf and turf and some restorative bottles of wine to help repair the damage of a day in the saddle were ordered.  Of course, conversation drifted to my quest, and I was rewarded by the presence of a brûlée to order.

Initial impressions were that the ramekin was too deep and the custard would be overly heavy as a result.   In fact, it was the exact opposite being light, smooth and at the appropriate room temperature.  The sugaring was also very light and perfectly caramelised, with a lovely side of freshly whipped cream with a simple strawberry and raspberry garnish.  This could be considered to be one of the best ever brûlées…!  A big claim, however it was simply conceived and expertly prepared.  The ‘Rocks’ delivered.  9/10.

Footnote:  I’m always wary of restaurants offering post dinner aperitifs, yet The Rocks insisted on offering some apple schnapps to cleanse our palettes…  I’m not quite sure how we got to this point…

On The Rocks - Yarmouth 2014

Hix Oyster & Fish House, Lyme Regis

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Anyone who has explored the South West of the UK, will most likely have been drawn to Lyme Regis, the small fishing port cum home to the well-heeled in need of a place to ‘get away to’ with a great beach, harbour and crazy golf cheap NFL jerseys course.  This kind of gentrification is highlighted by the quality of restaurants you’ll find there and I’m glad that Mark Hix chose this as one of his ‘out of town’ locations.

You may ask what took me to Hix, so I will tell you.  My mum’s 70th birthday.  Simples.  I will admit that A I had test Chateau driven this location earlier whilst partaking of my brother Adrian’s Stag Party a year or so before hence knowing the delights of the Baked views to be had from Hix’s from just above the town across the harbour towards the wholesale NBA jerseys Cobb.  Highly recommended, even if it’s raining.

So, cheap NBA jerseys let’s get to the custard based offering.  On this occasion, a simple thin and gentle sugaring was adorned above a simple room temperature custard.  As you can see from the photo, fuss was kept to a minimum with III attention focussed on delivering a wholesale Arizona Cardinals jerseys simple sweet simply.  The excellent views from Hix only added to the simple presentation of the dessert.  Again, a light, thin sugaring on a room temperature delivered the expected results.  This may have been helped by the fact that we were celebrating an important birthday with wives, brothers, children and mothers, all of whom were being well behaved.  8/10.