The evening after the extravaganza that was Old Bull and Bush training day was a tired but happy occasion. A beer, then thinking about food for us at home. The cooking team had not used the venison steaks, so they were available. But I really couldn’t face any more cooking or fine dining after the spread created by the team. It’s a bit like when you have been on holidays and had meals out a lot, or been on one of my training courses at a hotel – which tend to be eat-athons.
You just want something simple. And quick. And tasty.
And in that situation nothing gets close to beans on toast. Nothing compares or competes.
Naturally, I faff about a bit, adding some lemon juice to the already fine Branston Low Sugar and Low Fat beans (with no added sweeteners – which just seems daft to add fake sweet instead of sugar).
RANT: When you buy ‘low fat’ anything, just check the labels. You will often find the tasty and quite healthy fat has been replaced with corn syrup or other sugar. I firmly believe that sugar and sugar addiction makes us more obese than dietary fat. Cheap groundnut oil, often grown in plantations that used to be Amazonian rain forests not only contribute to global warming, but also make us more likely to be fat. The easiest thing to do is buy less convenience stuff – which they can adulterate – and make more of your dinners from scratch. You then have control. You can find a lot of advice in my book, “Can Men Cook?” You will also find stories and jokes. I think it may be the first cook book you can read like a novel!
But beans are good. Three minutes from tin-opener to gob. What’s not to love?
Sometimes you just come across a pub by sheer luck. We tend to use the Good Pub Guide – which does take a lot of the hit and miss of taking a chance out of the equation. It is usually pretty accurate. But this week we found a lunch time place just by saying “this will have to do”. That’s how we came up with The Horse and Groom.
Mortimer Common is a pretty village south of Reading. We were there to update our efforts with Old Bull and Bush – the treatment for our TV prog is out for consideration at the moment. (see web site – www.oldbullandbush.co.uk ) Jay and I always had a rule when we set the company up – all meetings had to be in pubs! That is our only rule in the business. Bet you wish that was your Mission Statement!!
The specials included Rabbit Ballotine with dumplings. The dumplings were the European variety – incredibly filling, and a surprise because they look like mashed spud!
A rabbit aside, here. I was running a course at a local posh hotel this week, and we had dinner. It was an all female senior management team. I ordered roast rabbit for starter – and there was a huge protest from all the women! I hoped it was not serious – but they said I couldn’t have a pretty little bunny to eat! So I had Ham terrine. I like pigs, both to look at and eat. But hey, it prevented being sent to Coventry…
Craig and Marcelle run both this pub and The Red Lion close by. They also have an Michelin level place called The Eagle at Little Coxwell. That level of food know how shone through in this dish. Jay and I were really very quiet during lunch. It was quite splendid. What was even more impressive was the level of service at this place. Attentive, attention to detail and a real love of people and food – all of this adds to the experience. Well worth seeking out.