Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Each year we have ‘mini Christmas’. Mini Christmas came about because we weren’t able to celebrate with close family and friends on the actual day. So as not to miss out we have a Christmas meal and exchange gifts a week or so before Christmas.

We take it in turns to cook the starter, main course and dessert. There is an unwritten and unconsciously agreed rule that we never have the same thing twice and we never have turkey!

This year, Jed and I were on dessert duty. I dread dessert years because, as anyone who knows me will know, I’m not a pudding person and find it difficult to get inspired about sweet things.

After a good few weekends of extremely difficult (!!) research consisting of watching plenty of BBC food programmes, the Good Food channel and the Food Network channel, I had developed a dessert worthy of a place on the mini Christmas table.

chocolate orange. Not Terry’s, mine.


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Christmas comes but once a year. That may be so but the Christmas celebrations are aplenty. Saturday was our second of five Christmas meals this year!

It has become a tradition that one weekend in December we meet up with a friend of ours, Phil, for Christmas food and drinks. Each year we choose a different local gastropub or restaurant and on Saturday it was the turn of the relatively newly opened Hall & Woodhouse in Bath.

Hall & Woodhouse are the Dorset brewers famed for Badger Ales so we knew the drink would be good at least. We got off to a great start with a pint each of Pickled Partridge, full of Christmassy flavour but not too dark and heavy like many seasonal ales. The conversation flowed as well as the beer and our attention turned to lunch. Local produce and Badger Ales are abound on the winter menu which was well thought out with plenty of choice but not so much to render a decision impossible. My eyes instantly fell upon the “Stargazy” pie, as did Phil’s, and Jed plumped for one of his favourites, chicken and ham pie.

“Stargazy” written as such because the Hall & Woodhouse pie isn’t a traditional one made with pilchards, sardine or mackerel but is authentic in its presentation with a crayfish poking up through the pastry, gazing at the stars. The pie was filled with crayfish, prawns, scallops, monkfish, smoked haddock and new potatoes in a white wine and herb sauce and was topped with puff pastry. It was decadent and very tasty, the only thing letting it down was that there just wasn’t enough sauce. It was all gone by the time I’d made it half way through.

Jed’s chicken and ham pie consisted of hand torn chicken, ham hock, carrots, shallots and greens braised in a white wine and herb sauce, topped with puff pastry and served with olive oil mash. It was a comforting pie but strangely accompanied by a rich beef gravy. Our waitress explained that the little jug of gravy had been added to the dish because comments had been returned to the kitchen that some sauce was needed with the mash. Hopefully our comments of replacing the beef gravy with some of the liquor from the pie or adding a spoon to the tray to allow you to spoon some of the sauce from the pie over the mash were also passed on!

Whilst Phil and I tucked into the West Country cheese board, Jed finished with a trifle like no other trifle I’ve seen before! This one with Blandford Fly ale and sticky toffee pudding within. It must have been good because it wasn’t around for long! 


We had a great afternoon and were looked after very well by our waitress. It’s a shame she left before we did but we were assured our tip was put on one side for her. Merry Christmas and we hope to see you again!

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