Today, being a Saturday, and more importantly being the first Saturday of a long-awaited holiday week, we decided to sally-forth and indulge our foody (and drinky) passions on a day trip to upmarket Stamford. Mmm! Lovely, lovely Stamford. Home to some of the finest pubs, cafes, cheese shops and wine merchants in the land.... and a Waitrose. Yay!
Whenever we visit Stamford, we're inevitably drawn to the top of the town and the cosy, boozy, foody delights of the Tobie Norris pub. Top quality Pizza and fine Ufford Ales are the main draw, though the historic building itself is worthy of investigation. We like it in the Tobie (yes, we're on first name terms now). It's the perfect place to lose an afternoon, aided and abetted by the three 'P's of civilised lunchtime pubbing. A Pint, a Pizza, and a stack of the days Papers. Lovely! There are probably other pubs in Stamford, maybe even really great ones. We really wouldn't know.
As if things couldn't be bettered at the Tobie, they've only gone and increased the range of ciders on offer. There's now a Westons cider on handpump, and the rare treat of Hogans Draught, a full flavoured keg cider not often seen round these parts. I'd really better stop drooling now before I start to sound like a fan-boy...
Anyway, inspired by our friends Tania & David of Birmingham, who're always doing exciting things with food and drink and Tweeting about it to make us really envious, we decided to stock up on a picnic basket full of Epicurean delights, and have a Spanish themed evening. In front of the telly. With some French and English bits thrown in for good measure.
All praise to Waitrose for supplying the Manchego and Aged Ossau Iraty cheeses, as well as the Paleta Iberico air dried Pig meat. Other cheeses came from here and there, the star of the cheeseboard being a ridiculously runny Époisses de Bourgogne, rind washed in local Brandy for extra pungency/offensiveness. To complete the (ahem!) Spanish theme, I opened my very last bottle of Basque Sidra Natural, bought several years ago on a holiday in Bilbao. Standing manfully in the gathering dusk of the garden, I poured the precious drink in the traditional way, from a great height into our prized pair of Basque Sidra tumblers.
It was a little bit past it to be honest. Sidra like this isn't made to be kept for any great length of time, and this bottle had gone a little too far down the road of vinegariness to be entirely enjoyable. It was however thoroughly authentic, which is more than can be said for our Spanish themed evening.