Friday, 16 October 2009
Monday, 5 October 2009
During various trips to cold and sexless seaside towns with my grandparents as a young child, highlights were of occasion, but normally few and far between. Obviously the trip to the miniature village was one such highlight but the other was always, always, pulling up at some crusty looking country pub, having a pint of the regions sugary coke and enjoying it's take on the English ageless and cultural divider The Ploughmans.
Normally there was a lump of Cheddar (in the Early 90's I'm pretty sure Brie was seen as a negative, foreign influence)accompanied by a bit of salad (ignored), a variety of pickle, half a loaf of crusty bread and eye-stinging, nervous system destabilising pickled onions.
Typically English in its arrangement(basically cobbled together with left over bits from the kitchen)it provoked a creative side in these sleepy country pub chefs too often used to microwaving the local supermarkets cottage pies. I've seen some come out on a plate, I've seen some served on a chopping board, I've seen some with homemade chutney, I've seen some with tomato ketchup(?)....I've even seen some with (whisper it) three types of cheese (http://www.pubs.com/pub_details.cfm?ID=216)!
Alas. Trying to get a ploughman's nowadays is, pretty much, impossible. Big cities just don't cater for such culinary subversion. Even if I was driving around a windy country lane I'm not sure a ploughmans would adorn a gastro pubs menu. They're just not in vogue.
Me and a friend, when searching for a ploughmans in London's East End, discovered the bizarre cross gendered food politics of our local pubs. As they are trying to cater for a variety of different culinary needs and cultures, many pubs neglect the homemade principles of good food and well, have a section that serves badly made Thai food.
To me that's bizarre, especially when there are so many good Asian Restaurants that I'd rather eat in in East London, for probably a similar price, cooked by someone who will probably be Asian and therefore have a clue about said food,... but then again I wouldn't have a gigantic football screen enhancing my culinary experience.
So we trudged on, disheartened, thinking we'd have to work up an appetite for the Pad Thai noodles when finally, after an hour looking we chanced upon the sacred ploughmans....yet it was found not in a pub but um, a rather large coffee shop...
Worth the wait though it was.... a Stilton ploughmans! Homemade chutney and homemade bread....
On a Sunday it was perfection....
P.S. By the way, this place charges nearly £20 for a vegetarian roast....£3 more than a normal roast. Why??