I promised I was going to be more diligent with my blogging, more immediate and of the moment. So this my first attempt to commit my thoughts and pictures to my blog whilst the taste of the meal still lingers on my tongue. I often write notes whilst still at the table (how on earth could I remember it all) but to include edited pictures also, I'm pushing the envelope of my blogging!
So I've arrived in North Norfolk after a rather circuitous route as my first day of my holiday is marred by the sad event of the funeral of a wonderful, beautiful colleague who was cruelly robbed of her life and the chance to watch her lovely six year son grow up by skin cancer. But delaying the start of my holiday seemed such a small gesture, others had flown from New York, Ireland, Germany and France to pay their respects. I'm back beneath the big, blue skies again as I find this such a calming place, being such a city girl all these wide vista are curiously restorative. I fear our willful English weather won't be kind to me but then I'll just have to find a little nook where I can read, write, paint and just chill. I have all my camera gear and tripod with me so I really hope I'll be able to put them to creative use capturing the picturesque beach huts, the artfully weathered fishing boats, the sunset over the sea and those never-ending skies (so let's hope they're blue occasionally!) I'm booked into Cley Windmill at the end of the week so some local themed picture opportunities there.
But before all that I head for Titchwell Manor close to Kings Lynn, this is a special place (to coin Alistair Sawday) where I know I'll be lavished with stunning food, welcome hospitality and an elegant, beautifully decked out room nestled in their herb garden. Ah bliss! I was counting the railway stops on the way here and dying to deposit my bags in Sage and hit the dining room.
My first surprise was the really crowded dining room (it transpired that a huge group were celebrating a fiftieth birthday in style) and feared they'd be no corner for me to enjoy my late dinner. But I was led into what I thought was the bar, which is now the hotel's new Eating Rooms and in honour of its new role is now bedecked in green and yellow stripes with blue wood. But before you grimace it actually considerably less alarming as it might sound. The green is a muted soft sage and the yellow is a pale creme anglais. The blue is a dusty cornflower and there are even a few punchy accents of colour with orange in the seat cushions and blinds. I admit their conservatory is more to my tastes with the white tented ceilings, the quirky lampshades, stunning white lacework lamp and the white wicker chairs and linen. I don't tend to surround myself with much colour so I seem to be drawn to the more neutral settings. But the Shaun Clarkson designed (taking inspiration from the seaside) Eating Room provide a vibrant contrast.
The menu was another surprise, it seemed so reduced from previous visits and I wondered if I'd been cheated being excluded from the packed conservatory. Then the friendly Michelle who remembered me from last year explained that there was a seven course tasting menu in conservatory and the a la carte had a new home. My initial frisson of fear when I'd glanced at the menu was totally dispelled when my starter arrived. The Scrambled egg truffle brioche mushroom was just delectable. Frankly they had me at 'truffle' and the delicate mound of rich scrambled egg strewn with micro cress atop a soft croute of brioche packed such a punch of unctuous heady truffle-y flavour I was momentarily stunned. No humble scrambled egg on toast was this!
Next I chose a dish from the blackboard - the Loch Duart salmon, summer beans and peas, lavender velouté. And because it's such a Norfolk delicacy I accompanied it with Samphire lemon butter. And what a beautiful dish! The pea shoot tendrils and additional samphire, peas and broad beans against the rose pink of the salmon was just a seaside summer on a plate. And not that there was any doubt, the taste lived up to its looks. The tangle of lemony butter drenched samphire was just sumptuous, and try as I might I couldn't prevent the lemon butter juices dripping down my chin as I scraped the samphire of its tasty covering. At least I had a finger bowl but nonetheless I suspect I did end up wearing part of my vegetable accompaniment.
So my revisit to Titchwell Manor has been a delicious success, the staff are even more friendly that I recalled from last year if that's possible, Mark Dobby the restaurant manager greeted me as a regular and all the waiters and waitresses (I've only learnt Michelle's name) make me feel so comfortable you don't feel like you're dining alone but with friends (albeit ones that keep wandering off to deal with other tables!)
I can't entirely put my finger on why it is so but I feel so utterly at home here, the incredibly manic last couple of weeks just melted away as soon as I'd heaved my case over slate chippings and gravel, claimed my room 'Sage' and headed back to dine. It's a testament to Margaret and the entire team that the walls of Titchwell Manor are imbued with such bon homie, if it were a little closer I'd love to be a 'real' regular and have my own table (most likely in the conservatory).
Tomorrow night I'm booked in for the nightly changing seven course tasting menu where I know the head chef Eric Snaith will do me proud, I saw what tonight's menu consisted of and was salivating. Let the feasting begin!
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