We left London rather quickly this trip to head to the SouthWest and discovered a region of England that we quickly fell in love with from the people to the scenery to the food!
We spent our first night at Bovey Castle (www.boveycastle.com) which seemed aboyt as fare from anywhere as one can get in the UK, yet still live in elegance. The castle was built by the now famous bookstore chain owner WH Smith with magnificent views over the North Dartmoor (the gorgeous hills or moors of Devon) and is now a superb hotel with friendly staff and a warm welcome. Dinner at their Edwardian Grill was virtually perfect starting with the GIN CURED MACKEREL with Salcombe CRAB (in a salad and soft shell), sliced daikon, Crushed Hazelnut Puree and Cucumber Puree. These were our first tastes of local top quality ingredients from Devon and they were indeed supreme. Or superb server "Bob" explained that his name was a shortened version of his last name as at home was known as Zbyzyko Bobinski. Our sommerlier, Ahmed, made magic with wine starting with a Moulin de Gassac, Selection Guibert 2011 from Languedoc made from Viognier, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc. While this is not a common blend, it was a genius combination and ideal with the tantalizing starter. Another starter was ASPARAGUS & DUCK EGG which was just that--a soft duck egg (the kind cooked slowly for hours) with Asparagus Bavarois and Summer Truffle. OMG!
The breads were just as good with Sea Salt & Oatmeal as well as White with Poppy Seeds and the local butter was as if it came from the cow next door.
Samuel enjoyed the DEVON FILET while we had our starters and we knew our amins would be a treat as he raved.
We switched to a CHATEAU de FONSALETTER 2003 Reserve Cotes du Rhone from Chateauneuf du Papes from Chateau Rayas of Grenache Noir that Ahmed suggested and he was spot on with this aged red that was divine with the 8oz. crusty Devon Fillet with Triple Cooked Chips, Portobello Mushroom, Micro Greens, Fine Beans wrapped in bacon and Bearnaise Sauce. Move aside American steakhouses.
The Short Ribs and Veal Sweetbreads (also from local livestock) came with Cepes, Pickled Onion, and a Rich Red Wine Sauce with Parsnip Puree. The Sweetbreads actually were inside the tortellini and the whole dish was amaaaazing.
The cheese arrived with the handsome Maxime at the cart and we choose almost everything as he said whatever you desire:
Trois Lait-hence three cheese, a rich runny
Devon Blue-not to be missed when in the region
which we compared to Blue de Gex (from Aix) and Blue d'Auvergne....all three were divine.
Lancashire Bomb is a cheddar that is filled inside a plastic "bomb" yet super rich and creamy.
We had a contest between the Stinking Bishop and Vacheron and it was very tough to decide which was stinkier :-))
Petit Livarot and Crotin de Chavignol (goat) were nice but the Tete de Meurice -a rich creamy blue was a new and novel hit forme.
Sharpham is a local cow we also loved and these all came with date bread, almond fruit pate, crackers, apples, celery and quince paste.
It was all so amazing we never got to dessert! But what a night!