Today I had planned to bring you a restaurant review but instead you have a tale of (imaginary, First World) deprivation. This was all before the latest restrictions, thankfully, as you’ll see.
Some years ago, Frome was The Place to live. Babington House, an offshoot of Soho House, was mentioned in all the house sales that mattered. We are 7.2 miles away. This appeal has faded recently, with Bruton now in ascendency. Hauser & Wirth get all the publicity (a mere 5 miles away from us), plus At The Chapel and Osip, a new restaurant run by Merlin Labron-Johnson, awarded a Michelin Star when he was only 24. https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/chefs/merlin-labron-johnson. George Osborne (a former British Chancellor of the Exchequer) has recently moved nearby. The Newt (see Post 104 from 16th September) is 6.4 miles from us. If you triangulate, we are absolutely at the epicentre of highly desirable living, surely?
Recently, I booked a table for four of us at Osip, which opened whilst JD was battling the high seas, getting rave reviews (the restaurant, not JD, silly!). They have a set menu accompanied by a flight of beverages (wine, cider, cocktails) if you are feeling unable to make a decision. As one of our party was on antibiotics, we had a designated driver and so I added the flight for the rest of us. There are two sittings: we had booked for half past eight, a bit later than I like to eat but needs must. We arrived at ten past eight to be met with bemusement. There was no booking and no space to slot us in. As well as distancing of tables nowadays, they obviously know exactly how much food to prepare to reduce waste. After checking their computer, we discovered that someone had cancelled our booking that afternoon. By now it was 20.40 on a Friday night in a sparsely populated area. The other restaurant in walking distance, At The Chapel, was fully booked, including their pizza takeaway. The next nearest, Roth Bar and Grill, a few minutes’ drive, agreed we could have a table outdoors if we arrived before nine. Thankfully we had not used a taxi (not very common or reliable around here) so piled into the car and arrived just in time. They took our temperatures then allowed us to take our seats. As we were in our Sunday Best we availed ourselves of the blankets they thoughtfully provide (with a warning that they cannot guarantee these are COVID-free). The kitchen was keen to finish so our starters arrived just before our cocktails (French 75 and Negronis). Shades of the Philippines? See blog post 75 dated 19th February (this year). Roth is not that disorganised and has much better food, as described in blog post 102, which all arrived in the right order. I had an affogato for dessert (Ice cream with espresso poured over) followed by an espresso martini. Hence, I was wide awake at 0440 writing this episode. I heard an owl hooting and dawn was beginning to break. We made it to Osip the following week. As impressive as you’d expect from a Michelin chef.
We haven’t been spending all our free time eating out, oh no! I used to frequent auction houses. Not the ‘sold for two million pounds to the lady who scratched her nose’ sort, more the ‘box of assorted crockery for two pounds’ sort. I ‘won’ a dowry chest for £20 once. A dowry chest was used in the past for a girl to store all the things she would need when she married. Ours is very big, with three sections, and it has been used to store all the bubble wrap we get when ordering things online and other stuff. You never know when you’ll need to post a large fragile something somewhere. Another good reason to support your local shops. I decided to sort it out the other day and am embarrassed to say I filled a big black bin bag of plastic waste. The chest now looks really tidy. Until the next delivery.
I also spent a wet day sorting out my freezer boxes. Do they have a planet they go to like old Biros? (Shades of Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy again). You end up with a number of boxes and with luck the same number of lids, but do they match? Of course not. This time, I ended up with only six spares: two medium size boxes, one big (cake storage?) and three Chinese takeaway size, and 13 lids. One very good one, there must be its companion box lurking somewhere, and eight takeaway tops, one split, none of which fit the stray boxes, plus sundry others. I regret to say I’m adding to the great plastic mountain yet again. I now have all matching sets, stored in bigger boxes so in theory I’ll never have this problem again! It all went very quickly as I’d discovered a musician new to me, Molly Tuttle. https://www.mollytuttlemusic.com/
I have gone back to jigsaws and now have one bought by JD for me, two borrowed from my brother and two very special ones given to me by Yangtze. If you look carefully you might recognise the odd sailor! I’ve yet to do any, the weather has been too good to be indoors for long, but that is changing, along with the dark evenings. As a pal of mine used to say, Winter draw(er)s on.
I have also made two bottles of sloe gin with sloes from the garden and taken up a new hobby, creating alcoholic ice creams and sorbets. I’ll leave these for my next blog post, which I hope to be less than a fortnight away. I don’t know what I do with my days but they disappear worryingly quickly.