Saturday, 1 March 2014

Food. glorious Food

Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we're in the mood --
Cold jelly and custard!
Pease pudding and saveloys!
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it, boys --

The orphan boys seated round the workhouse table in Oliver! the film, and their less happy cousins in Dickens’ book would have been satisfied with good, wholesome home cooking instead of the gruel which was their daily fare. I admit to an unashamed liking for fine dining, i.e. a good dinner in good company, eaten slowly, every texture and flavour savoured. Not mere feeding, in other words. I don’t greatly care for the palaver of white linen napery, fancy cutlery and a scrum of waiters in black monkey suits falling over themselves to refill my glass after every sip. Puree of this and foam of that you can keep too. To me that’s the elevation of show over substance; besides, I don’t go for camp.

My kind of place is The Stagg Inn at Titley in Herefordshire. It’s the destination of choice for the discerning foodie for miles around. A friend of ours recently had the big 6-0 birthday; thinking what would give her most pleasure we hit on the idea of a memorable meal as a belated present.

The Stagg is a very attractive roadside inn, right in the middle of the black and white villages of the Marches border country. It’s fame has spread as far as the States, R.W. Apple, Associate Editor of the New York Times, reviewed his experience here in glowing terms. When you enter the very modest doorway there is neither pomp nor circumstance. The Stagg is friendly, down-to-earth, but the skills behind the kitchen door would put many a grander establishment to shame. There is more modesty here than you could shake a Welsh leek at.

You sit on upholstered chairs at wooden tables, set on wooden floors, the decor is so simple as to be non-existent; all is clean and fresh and comfortable.

It’s only when you read the menu that you realise you are in Michelin territory.

It was no easy task to choose our dishes, but this is what we had between the three of us:

 Duck liver parfait, smoked duck breast, fig

 Marinated mackerel, orange pickled carrots, tarragon cream

Madgett’s Farm duck: Confit of leg, roast breast, turnip, kale, cider potato fondant  

 Lamb:  Chop, almond coated Moroccan spiced shoulder, apricot, lemon, potato dauphine

Springfield farm chicken breast, artichoke, purple sprouting, potato dauphinoise

Having made our choice, we stuck with it; there was none of that “let’s have a taste of yours” which is all very well when it’s a question of stealing a potato chip (French fries) but rather vulgar in a rarefied atmosphere as this.

Only two of us had room for pudding, we chose home made ice creams and sorbets; the coffee came with truffles and there was a small chocolate goodies bag to take home as well.

We think our friend enjoyed her present.


  1. Looks great, Friko. I love lamb! :)

  2. I am sure your friend enjoyed her present. Without waiters bowing and scraping like over zealous windscreen wipers and without the silliness of foam.

  3. geez...i would be so down with a meal like that...i have had some amazing pub food....hope your friend did have a wonderful birthday...

  4. A lovely idea...a good meal in good company in a restaurant which lets its customers get on with what they came for without all the fal lals.

  5. The gift that reciprocated. That all looks very nice. (I can still do the English Art of Understatement, see, mostly misinterpreted over here:(

  6. Am I mistaken or is that lamb chop near raw? It all looks a little too fancy for me, I have no idea at all what potato dauphine or dauphinoise is, nor cider potato fondant. I'll assume they're nice to eat.
    I'd probably be happier with something a little less fancy; a medium rare steak and some chips with a side salad.

  7. It's a great present and one I'd enjoy, too. I'd probably go for a different choice of main course (not fond of liver, no matter what animal it comes from) but would have probably loved the almond-coated Morroccan lamb shoulder and the home-made icecreams.
    RJ and I will be meeting friends for dinner tonight at a rather posh restaurant (where we celebrated New Year's Eve two years ago), but taking pictures of our food would be frowned upon there, I'm afraid, much as I'd love to blog about the event.

    1. You could pretend that you are a food critic. Maybe get free dessert.

  8. Well, that would certainly screw with my diet. Glad I learned that sharing a taste is not proper in a fancy place, as I tend to want to do that whenever there were two meals I wanted to try and could only pick one. I also did not realize that modesty was something you shook veggies at.

  9. Enjoying this post so much, Friko ... looks so good ... except some more veggies, please ... a lot more ... please ... smiles ... and while you are at it, a lemon water would be nice ... smiles

  10. Ah! lovely. I feel as if I have been there myself. When I actually did try to go they were booked solid, so I never did. Your post is a bit of a consolation :) What a lovely celebration for your friend.

  11. I've always wanted to try lamb. Wow I should not have read this blog post when I was so hungry. I am starving now!! :)

  12. All of these dishes look delicious – what a great birthday present! I love lamb but it is hard to find and expensive where I live. I wanted to get some stewing lamb to use in my vegetable stew and the only pieces I could find were more expensive than Filet Mignon and not as good looking – Georgia is the state of barbecue pork and fried chicken mostly. Fancy you talking about food – I just finished yesterday to take photos of my last cooking effort to use in my next post – but hardly as elegant as your post…

  13. Seems to be a lovely place to dine. When we eat out, we have our favorite places too. Dianne

  14. Friko, having just finished my light luncheon of Greek yoghurt (with cherry preserves,) I was absolutely delighted to see this post of yours. You chose a fabulous birthday gift for your friend! Thank you so much for showing us photographs of each selection you all made. Each one looks so, so good, with interesting combinations of flavors, colors and textures. Carefully prepared and beautifully presented.

    Oh, I really am hungry now. Maybe if I just make a pot of tea I can soften my appetite's calling! xo

  15. Mm. Textures and flavors and color for the eye. Pleasure for all the senses.
    My birthday is in late June, so best make the reservation now. Thengew.

    I fear I would do everything wrong were I to dine in the UK. I have read that tipping is an insult to the server there, and surely I would want to leave something on the table. Ugly American indeed.

  16. Mmmm, it always happens - just when I'm on a strict low cal diet, there's a run of mouth watering food posts! -sigh-

  17. what a glorious meal.
    memories for me of fine meals in the past.
    today, vegetable soup is heating
    leftovers from the freezer.
    may have somemore severe weather tonight
    and tomorrow
    wonder what happened to Spring :)

  18. Sounds like a wonderful restaurant! Good food and good company--what a great birthday present. :)

  19. Your food philosophy echoes my own. I like to eat well. The dishes you've featured look delectable and satisfying. This is the kind of birthday gift I like.

  20. Friko, You have my mouth watering like crazy... all of a sudden I am starving!! look what you've done!! cheers, have to head to kitchen.

  21. Looks scrumptious, my kind of place and there are never enough of them around. so very hard to get a good meal like this :)

  22. Hi Friko - that's a little upsetting to read all about the delicious food that I could have tried: next time I'm up .. I think I will definitely have to have a meal there. I needed the quiet room so we could hear each other think.

    I know The Stagg has a tremendous reputation and I can now see why ... the photos are great .. and shows you were hungry to get stuck in ... your friend must be well pleased with their present.

    Looks just delicious and you can dine on those memories for a while! Happy week - Hilary

  23. That all looks very nice . What did the others have ?

  24. The Stag is exactly my kind of place. Now, where's that map and how long will it take to get there :-)
    Looks wonderful. Will add to my list.

  25. How could she not enjoy such a meal?!! I admit I am drooling.

  26. I don't even know what half those words mean and I want to eat it.

  27. Yum, yum! Nice warming food to help you through the last of the winter.

  28. Those photos are scrumptious - what wonderful food and I just know the company was excellent. Blessings from Dalamory

  29. Dear Friko, this 60th birthday celebration is what I'd call an "event" or an "experience." One that satisfied the senses. How fitting that as our bodies age we cherish them with such events. Peace.

  30. It looks like an absolutely wonderful, memorable meal in the best of company!

  31. I must say that all this looks quite amazing.

  32. Friko,
    Looks like a great place to have those special dinners!
    Have a good week!

  33. Must remember this place whenever we get back your way. Food glorious food, indeed!

  34. I don't suppose I should be reading this post when our dinner tonight was a simple bowl of soup and some bread! It all looks so delicious and such a wonderful place to enjoy a special time with a friend. A perfect place for such a celebration!


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