Saturday, February 15, 2014

Walking the English countryside

One of the very nicest things about a walk in England is, if you want it to, every walk can end in a pub!  Recently I went for a very short trip to visit long time school friends and I was staying in Chipperfield in Hertfordshire.  Though this an easy commute to central London and only 20 minute drive (when the M25 is not plugged) to Heathrow airport you are in lovely rolling hills and small villages a great place to go for a walk through the English countryside, and there are lots of pubs.

It was late January, but the sun came out and a walk was definitely in order. It has however been raining a lot in fact record breaking rain, so wellington boots were the preferred footwear for going through the mud and puddles.

The first day we went for a walk around lunch time and so decided to stop at a local pub called the Boot for a bite to eat.

It was a classic pub from the outside, a little worn on the inside, but cosy and I think quite old. I decided to order the classic British pub lunch "plough mans lunch"  this can vary in size and quality, the most basic being bread, cheese and a pickled onion.

This was a fairly good version of a plough mans lunch there was a hunk of good cheddar cheese, a couple of slices of ham, chutney, piccalilli, crusty bread, chopped salad and a very large pickled onion.

Along with a glass of wine this made a good lunch for two, the chutney and piccalilli were not home made, but the bread was warm and crusty and the ham and cheese were very good quality.

The next day we walked in the other direction that ended on Chipperfield common where there is still an iconic red phone booth.  I am not sure if the phone still works as I think everyone in England now has a cell phone, but it certainly looked well against the green of the common and the blue winter sky.

We stopped at the "Two Brewers" pub for a late lunch. The pub was full with the only seating being up at the bar on extremely high stools.  We were fine with this as we were looking for a glass of wine and a light bite.  We ordered the haloumi cheese salad to share.

We asked for an extra plate as we were going to share and received a beautiful blue and white plate which we had to include in the picture. This was a wonderful salad a long way from the slab of cheese and bread and bag of crisps which is what used to pass for pub food.  The grilled haloumi cheese was served on top of grilled endive, roasted beets and onions with mixed salad greens pine nuts and a light balsamic dressing.

We had a long discussion drawing in the woman sitting next to us about the bad rap that English food still gets, though it has improved immeasurably in the last 20 years.  I have a theory that English food is now some of the best in Europe, as England has embraced the best ingredients from all over the world and combined them with good local ingredients to come up with some amazing combinations and flavours as shown in the wonderful salad.

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