Welsh Rarebit

Apparently the name Welsh Rarebit is a dig at the Welsh.

You’d think there’d be plenty of other options for riling our celtic cousins without resorting to a poke at this classic comfort food that has become so popular over the last couple of years. But apparently it relates to the fact that whilst rabbit was the cheap food standby for the English, the Welsh standby was cheese – hence Welsh Rarebit…

With a classic recipe there are of course 59 different ways of doing it – beer or no beer – roux or no roux etc etc. Last night I tried the no-beer roux route. Lovely with some old school soft lettuce and pepper salad with a honey and raspberry vinegar dressing.

Welsh rarebit

Welsh rarebit


Due to my extended period of downtime given that, unbelievably, we are still having to pump out the basement on a daily basis, I took the opportunity to try a local establishment for lunch with me old mate Al.

The last time we did this was about 6 months ago when we ended up having a legendary meal of roast quail and sauerkraut at the Anchor and Hope in Waterloo.

Like that time (snails and ox heart) Al chose to stick with an offal’esque selection at The Duke with cuttle fish and white bean on toast followed by Ox tail and braised pearl barley – and very nice it was too.  The Duke are slavish to their organic paradigm – the only pub in the UK (the world?) to have certification from the Soil Society  – so their dishes are seasonal, sustainable and, for once all the better for it.

Our approach at Full English is not to be a flag waving, organic pioneer, rather an establishment that obsesses over the flavour and welfare of the animals we butcher and serve. There’s no doubt in my mind that a happy pig is a tasty pig – an given that I happen to quite like pigs anyway, I don’t want to be responsible for making that pig spend its days inside on a hard concrete floor.

I’m pretty sure that the porker in my bacon and egg sandwich was a happy one – I certainly was when I’d washed it down with a couple of pints of Eco Warrior!

My bacon & egg sandwich with sautéd pots

My bacon & egg sandwich with sautéd pots

Al's oxtail and braised pearl barley

Al's oxtail and braised pearl barley

Felix had the milk special!

Felix had the milk special!

Went to the Barge Inn near Pewsey, Wiltshire at the weekend to celebrate Tony Crackburn’s 40th!

Took advantage of the scorching weather to crack out the barbie and roast up some ribs and other delights.

Grilling the Aubergines for babganush

Grilling the Aubergines for babaganush

The babaganush was stuffed inside some turkish peppers. A bit bland in the end – none of that rich smokeyness that you’d expect.

Radishes at Marlborough market

Radishes at Marlborough market

Ginger pig ribs and chipolatas

Ginger pig ribs and chipolatas

The ribs ruled – sticky and sweet from their bourbon and horseradish marinade.

Tony Crackburn's wicked kebobs

Tony Crackburn's wicked kebobs

Tony’s kebob’s in full effect – nice use of whole mini peppers Tony!


Wiping the plate clean

Wiping the plate clean


Five-a-day?  Me neither…

Not at the moment anyway.  Bread for breakfast, bread for lunch (sandwich styleé), then something bordering on vegetables for tea if I’m lucky.

However, given my obsession with soda farls I’ve become equally addicted to the berry compote.

They are so easy to make and have a fraction of the sugar of a jam but taste just as great.  Plus, they aren’t boiled to buggery so they don’t loose loads of their nutrient content.

Strangely, given our leaning towards all things English, my fav. is the blueberry compote – kinda American in it’s outlook.  No matter, the blueberry creates a wonderful light syrup and combined with real vanilla is a real treat.


Blueberry Compote with Soda Farls

Make sure you add a little sugar to the farl recipe here


For the compote:

1 punet of blueberries (serves 2 generously)

2 tea spoons of sugar

1 vanilla pod


Wash the blueberries and add to a small pan.  Add enough water so that the berries are barely coated (think steaming spinach – about that amount) – DON’T ADD TOO MUCH – you can always add but its a lot of faff to take out the berries and reduce the syrup later.

Sprinkle over the sugar, split the vanilla pod to scrape out the seeds – add those and chuck in the pod itself for good measure – stir lightly to combine.  

Get the mixture up to boiling and simmer gently for about 5 mins.  The blueberries should be starting to break up but not completely turned to mush.

CAREFULLY taste the syrup – don’t forget it has sugar in there and will be volcanic – if its too loose take out the berries and boil hard to the right consistency  – it should be like loose jam but not too runny. 

Take out the vanilla pod and allow to cool.

Best served slightly warm with the farl and lashings of salted butter.


Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored…..

Get yourself a big fat Welsh duck egg (thanks mum), a Canon 350D and snap away…



Cracking - click the image if it doesn't animate


But seriously though, I hope we can get a regular supply of these.  They taste great, really rich, and I love that orange gloss the yolk covers the plate with.  Yum





Roast pork and garlic one


Watching MPW during the week and the awesome pork belly he knocked up got us dreaming of the same for Sunday lunch.  

We left it too late to go to a butchers for our meat but fortunately, Waitrose had some nice looking rare bread free range joints – no belly so we had to make do with some shoulder.

After all the nonsense with the basement of the restaurant (still pumping it out, still filling back up again) I felt like we deserved a treat so we didn’t feel too guilty about the crackling and olive oil roast potatoes that filled our plates.

Interestingly, MPW cooked his belly at 160 for about 2 hours and the crackling looked great.  I normally start it at 220 for 20 mins and reduce to 180 for the rest of the time but I thought I try it his way.  It kinda worked but I had to whack it up towards the end to crisp it up and get the pots nice and crispy too.


Roast pork and garlic two

Roast pork and garlic two


The sun was starting to set as the pork was resting so I grabbed the camera and snapped a few shots in the gorgeous evening light. 

The first garlic of the year was also from Waitrose – its not dried in the same way as garlic normally is so its a treat when roasted and eaten whole with the rest of the meal.  Looks great on a wooden board next to the hunk of meat.


Roast pork - the final dish

Roast pork - the final dish

Apple Velvet / Black Velvet

Nothing is new. Or so said some old poet or other. Having said that, I think our take on the black velvet classic champagne cocktail is a nice little twist.

Take the best champagne method West Country cider (instead of “real” champagne) and give it a Guinness float – it looks great (a little cloudy maybe) and is a wicked hangover cure.

Problem is, you need Guinness with a widget (a method they use of recreating draft Guinness) – it works v well but the fizz disappears quite quickly meaning it all needs drinking there and then.  I played around with serving extra Guinness on the side but I think the best bet is to serve it in a tankard or make it a drink for two  – a bit like a Chateaubriand.

Turns out nothing IS new – [wiki →]