Cley is the last destination on my little North Norfolk coastal tour and as I drag my suitcase and sundry photographic paraphernalia plus a few local purchases from the Coasthopper bus stop towards my B&B, I ponder the challenge of negotiating these village roads thus laden as a packhorse. There are no pavements and normally the act of nipping behind a parked car or stepping precariously on the cobbles marking someones front door when a particularly wide four wheel drive tank rumbles by is fairly easy when unencumbered but today it is proving quite perilous. But when I yank my case finally over the little bridge (gravel and 'spinner' cases don't mix) and see my first view of Cley Mill in the recently restored late sunshine it has definitely been worth it. At the very first glance at the majestic windmill whilst driving through Cley last year to partake of the fine goodies from Picnic Fayre and seeing the sign for 'B&B' made me determined that I would make use of their hospitality one day and experience mill life. I quickly grab some photos in case the fickle weather turns again and am then escorted to my Barley Bin room.
The room is lovelier than I expected, I'd only decided that I wanted stay in in the actual mill not the other out buildings and as this was the only remaining room I hadn't weighed up the merits of one room over another. And as I hadn't done the normal research I hadn't realized that that my room would be so enormous, with a bed the size of a small village, a slouchy settee, antique tables and chest of drawers, a wonderful French looking tall mirror and the best surprise (because I hadn't read the website) a giant claw footed bath.
Clearly a mill would need a large space to store their barley hence my rooms generous proportions. The bathroom is the only place I can see the round wall as the Barley bin is in the lower part of the mill and thus seems attached to the cylindrical tower.
After freshening up and unpacking I descend to join the other guests for pre-dinner drinks and then into the transformed dining room. The evening meal is billed as Dinner by Candlelight on the front gate outside and there's no false advertising. The romantic in me thinks how cosy and elegant and the blogger in me thinks 'I wish I owned a miner's helmet!'. My waiter is charmingly accommodating (Victoria take note!) and fills the rest of my table with additional candles which brightens my outlook.
Shortly afterwards the Pan Fried Fillet of Red Mullet on a Watercress & Walnut Salad with Orange and Vanilla Sauce is served to us all (they have a set menu at Cley Mill). Very soon the soft murmurings in the dining room are replaced by mmmmm's as all the diners comments on the moist flakes of fish and the delectable citrusy sweet sauce, with the peppery bite of the watercress and crunch of walnuts. I made sure I mopped up every gorgeous drop with my remaining bread, that was a seriously good sauce.
The next course was the Fillet Steak with Garlic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Sautéed New Potatoes & a Wild Mushroom & Wholegrain Mustard Sauce. As I watched these being delivered to the other tables I made my usual mental calculations as to discretely extricate the scary tomatoes away from the meat and other good things. But as mine is delivered I realised it looked different than the other plates, instead of the roasted (evil) tomatoes ring around the meat my beef was adorned with the wild mushrooms with a stack of sauté potatoes to the side and ne'er a tomato in sight. I was seriously impressed! I couldn't even recall mentioning my tomato-phobic nature when I made my reservation but I must have and they'd cleverly remembered. The fillet steak melted in the mouth and a question regarding provenance netted information that it was bred and sold by their butcher in Melton Constable. So two for two so far, how would our meal end? The night's menu was pinned up on the board outside the mill but I hadn't seen it so it had all been a surprise.
The finale was a bowl of Slow Roasted Rosemary Plums, Rose Wine Syrup & a Minted Chocolate Garnish. The minted chocolate garnish was a reminder of my favourite from the Marks & Spencer chocolate mint selection we used to enjoy as a Christmas treat and started to melt subtly in the warmth of the aromatic plums and merge into the rose wine syrup. It was indeed three for three, this was a delicious and inspired pudding and Adam, the creator of all this bounty, is a seriously talented chef. Tomorrow night we've got the special gala wine and dine event, what heady new heights will we reach tomorrow? The couple of diners not already on the list for the extravaganza are very eager to sign up, and we retire to the lounge to drink coffee and tea and to mull over our collective joy of the windmill.
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