Charlestown Harbour, Cornwall

Charlestown Harbour, Cornwall, originally uploaded by bongo vongo.

We went to St. Austell in Cornwall back in September and visited the Eden Project (as you do) and when the weather permitted to some of the villages in the surrounding area. By far the most picturesque of these is Charlestown which has been used as a setting in a number of Films.

Another village we went to was Mevagissey where I had probably the best tasting pot of mussels ever anywhere (and I’ve had some good mussels in Belgium where they know a thing or two about them). I want to imagine that they were caught locally that morning but wouldn’t be surprised if they’d been imported from somewhere else.

Despite the occasional downpour during September I can easily recommend Cornwall to anyone planning a late season break but would urge them to take waterproofs and a sat-nav.

Squash from Kings Heath Farmers Market

Went to the Farmers Market in Kings Heath, Birmingham. There were only a dozen or so stalls, set out in a sort of circle just outside All Saints Church, but some fine produce nevertheless. We got some Jasmine Flower Tea and this squash. Haven’t decided how to cook it yet; choice between roasting it and making a warming autumnal risotto. Yum either way :)

Moseley on Farmers Market Day.

Was passing through Moseley this morning when we noticed the Farmers Market in full swing. The weather was good for a change and there were plenty of people about. The area by the bus stop, opposite the Barclays bank had all the food stalls and the Alcester Road side, opposite HSBC had the arts and crafts stalls. We bought some organic apples grown in … Argentina … hmm!

Tagore at 150 – the Peter Pan of Bengali culture?

Despite the official Tagore anniversary celebrations which began in Santiniketan, it’s a shame that #tagore150 never became a trending topic on twitter (he’s got “Bustin Jieber” to compete with after all) but surely it’s a measure of the enduring love for the man shared by Bengali’s the world over that even on the newest mode of expressions Tagore fans try to share their love for him and his works.

But in one of those curious coincidences it appears that today is also the 150 year anniversary of the birth of J.M. Barrie — the creater of Peter Pan. I wonder if the two men ever met? Tagore was a famous traveller and meeter (sic) of people so it’s not beyond the realms of imagination, particularly two such vivid ones.

“The most useless are those who never change through the years.” –J.M. Barrie

“Not hammer strokes, but dance of the water, sings the pebbles into perfection.” –Rabindranath Tagore

A tale of two Sittings

Christmas, New Years and a Birthday came and went and much food was consumed by all.  Two of those occasions occurred at two of Brindleyplace’s, indeed Birmingham’s, finer eateries — Bank and Edmunds.  Sitting in opposite corners of Brunswick Square the two establishments seem to be eyeing each other like a couple of gastronomic champs, ready to rumble.

By EG Focus (via Flickr)

Actually there was a rumble but mostly in my belly when I went to the first of these restaurants, Bank.   From the moment we walked into the modern, elegant and spacious surroundings the service was impeccable.  The staff were attentive, friendly and most importantly relaxed.  We got there a bit early and sat in the bar area for a while and weren’t rushed to our table at the time it had been booked for, although it should be added that it was early and the place wasn’t too crowded.

I had a starter of mussels and although it was described as a small portion I got a fair few which was a good thing as they were delicious.  I honestly haven’t tasted mussels that good since having some on a trip to Brussels many years ago.  Other’s at the table had Thai Fish Cakes and the Chili Squid and these were equally impressive.  For the main I went for the catch of the day – which was a Lemon Sole, cooked with capers and butter.  Absolute genius food!  Others in the Party had Malayan Chicken – delicious!, Confit of Duck – delicious! and the Fish and Chips – delicious!.  The food was presented beautifully.  I finished off the meal with a selection of excellent cheeses.

By ell brown (via Flickr)

A couple of weeks after that thoroughly delicious trip to Bank I was lucky enough to be treated to a meal at Edmunds by Mrs Bongo Vongo.  It’s a much smaller place and in keeping with it’s description of itself as a place for fine dining the setting is more formal than Bank with full silver service.  The tables glisten with cutlery of many descriptions accompanied by a host of sparkling glasses.  The plates, tables and artwork on the walls are coordinated in colour and pattern and all very tastefully put together.  All this ever so slightfully intimidating taste is mitigated by friendly front of house staff who, as in any place with genuine class, put you at ease with their polite and attentive service.

It was one of those really cold days earlier this month and I saw and went for a warming Risotto of wild mushrooms with truffle oil & parmesan starter.  Before that got to us though there was served some complimentary freshly made light crispy cheesy twists with guacamole  — yum!  My risotto didn’t waste any time getting to me and it was just right, al dente and delicious.  After this there was another surprise complimentary morsel, a small pumkin soup with crunchy toasted sunflower seeds.  For my main I had Halibut with mussels, winter vegetables & a tarragon shallot butter. All perfectly cooked but the  tarrogon shallot butter was the genious touch.  The missus had the Buttered puff pastry,with breast of cornfed chicken, confit of chicken leg, braised celery & chicken jus which in keeping with the culinary trend of the moment featured chicken cooked in three ways.  As at Bank, I finished things off with Chef’s selection of English cheeses with wafer biscuits and a fine selection it was too.

It was a good fight — a thrilla near the villa (yeah I know it’s nowhere near the Villa ground but hey) — and I think we’re really lucky in Brum to have a number of great places to eat all around Brindleyplace.  In the final count though, owing to a combination of thrilling food and excellent service, in a closely fought culinary contest I have to give the decision to Bank.