August was a month of anniversary celebrations, The Great British Menu, holidays and, you guessed it, food… lots of food.

Lord Crewe Arms
Mr F did a grand job of finding this gem of a place for a weekend away. Sitting right in the centre of the historic village of Blanchland, not far from Hexham, the Lord Crewe Arms is steeped in history. Our room was part of the old Abbey, and the original stained glass and window seat provided the perfect place to watch the world go by.
We primarily stayed for some time out and a chance to walk but the Lord Crewe provided a simple menu focusing on local ingredients that were executed well. The fish and the flat iron steak dishes were particularly flavoursome and cooked well. Other dishes didn’t quite hit the mark but overall we enjoyed the food as part of a wonderful place to stay and relax.

Oshibi
This place has been on my list for some time and it didn’t disappoint. You have to be prepared for anything. Even if you have booked a table it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a table for you but it’s the worth the roulette! Oshibi has a feel of eating in someone’s home about it; the sense of welcome suggesting you are friends going round for dinner. The menu says that Korean dining is informal. Yes, yes it is and I loved it. Before we had even decided what to eat we were gifted a soju shot. I’m not sure what it was but the evening brightened up after drinking it. We opted for the Korean table grill. There was a sense of fun in cooking our own strips of meat and enjoying the range of kimchis and dips that went alongside it, these were a real highlight of the meal. The lightly picked garlic was bursting with flavour and the kimchis brought the dish alive.
We also ordered some yachae mandu (vegetable dumplings) which I’d definitely order again. Oshibi is definitely somewhere to go again and again. It’s quirky and chaotic at times but the food holds its own and there is nowhere else quite like it. That is what makes it somewhere special.

A Great British Menu evening at the House of Tides
I have York on a Fork to thank for ensuring we didn’t miss out on this incredible evening. There are not many opportunities to have your evening planned and cooked for you by three outstanding chefs. The different styles and influences of each chef complimented each other throughout the menu beautifully with no sense of competition. A series of snacks were a fitting start to an evening that felt celebratory. The pork and smoked eel bonbon was an absolute triumph and the carrot and fennel pollen macaron so delicate yet full of flavour. Following the snacks we got into the main dishes from each chef starting with Josh Overington’s strawberry and nasturtium dish. This one messed with my head, the balance of flavours and temperatures making you really think about what you were eating and the granola adding a wonderful texture. It was a stunning dish and one of my favourites of the night. Next up was Danny Parker’s salad twenty two. The complex flavours were balanced so beautifully and I found myself wanted to pay attention to every mouthful and really appreciate each distinct ingredient. Next we had the fish course that got Tommy Banks to the GBM banquet: Turbot, strawberries and cream. At the time I watched this on TV I remember thinking Tommy had gone quite quite mad but oh my was I proved wrong. It was a stunning dish. Even more pleasing for me was that the strawberries come from my local farm shop. This was another of my favourites of the night. The colour, flavours and textures were a marriage made in heaven. Next up was the Gloucester old spot, pineapple and onion by Danny Parker. I love pineapple and it was a real hit in this dish. We then moved on to desserts and the first by Josh Overington completed my top three of the evening. A wild herb pannacotta with the wonderful flavour and fragrance of woodruff making it an absolute delight to eat. Last but not least was Tommy Banks hay time dessert that was an adaptation from the original to include a little ice cream slider. I enjoyed the dish but it didn’t have the same strength of flavour to sit alongside the rest of the menu. We finished the evening off with some stunning chocolates and coffee before heading back on the train. The skill and passion for food that these chefs brought to the table will last long in my memory, what a spectacular evening.

A trip home to Northern Ireland:

Ocho Tapas
I’ve heard a lot about Ocho Tapas and we finally got the chance to book a table. Our timing wasn’t brilliant as half the world was in Portrush for a band championship but we successfully parked the car and recovered with a glass of wine while perusing the menu. This isn’t a typical tapas place, the dishes are tapas in style in that they are a series of small plates but this is ‘small’ Northern Irish style so expect to eat rather a lot! The highlights were lamb with cauliflower and the goats cheese croquettes with beetroot pannacotta. Both very different, the lamb dish rustic, robust and packing a punch, the goats cheese and beetroot refined, delicate and light. In many ways these sum up Ocho Tapas. It’s eclectic but there are little delights along the way and I’d recommend you go visit.

Harry’s Shack
I cannot go home without a visit to Harry’s Shack. It is completely my kind of place with a focus on local fish and seafood cooked to perfection. August visits always mean lobster. I mean, why wouldn’t you….

Ursa Minor Bakehouse
A trip home also also means bread and cakes at Ursa Minor and this time we got to visit their new, bigger, Bakehouse and cafe in Ballycastle. It is a fantastic place to spend a morning. The new cafe is beautifully designed and the ability to go downstairs and see the Bakehouse just adds to the enjoyment.

Pizza nights at Lost and Found
The new Friday night opening at L&F provided the perfect excuse to catch up with friends and enjoy great food. The pizza menu is small but perfectly formed. Be warned though it gets very busy so make sure you get there early!

Babushka
You’ve probably worked out already that we spend a LOT of time here. The coffee is perfect, the food a joy to eat, the people a joy to know and the view: nowhere else on earth like it. That’s all I need to say.

Harry’s Derry
A first visit to the new restaurant in the Craft Village. Full review here: https://www.frivolitea.co.uk/2017/09/01/harrys-craft-village-derry/

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