On Friday after a bit of a late start due to quite a boozy first night we made our way to the nearby Camel Valley Vineyard to do a tour of the estate and most excitingly do some wine tasting. We sat on a beautiful terrace overlooking the vineyard. We started with a selection of five sparkling wines and before moving onto five of their white wines. Each selection came with details of the particular wines and tasting notes. It was really interesting seeing and tasting the differences between them all. Collectively as a group our favourites were almost all the same. Our favourites were the Sparking Brut Rose and our favourite white wine was the Atlantic Dry.
Just as I was getting back from my Sicily holiday I got a text from my friend Craig inviting me down to his boyfriend Rob’s house in Cornwall for a long weekend. I didn’t really need or frankly deserve another holiday, but a lovely group of my friends were going and I couldn’t resist. Due to the fact that it was quite late notice the trains down to Cornwall were ridiculously expensive, so we ended up flying from Heathrow down to Newquay with British Airways. It was half the price of the train, much quicker, even with the the dreaded airport security and I even managed to use some of my many Avios to pay for some of the cost. We flew down Thursday evening and Craig picked us from Newquay airport and then drove us all back to the house. Rob’s house is a gorgeous country house that he bought a few years ago and has stunningly renovated into a luxury holiday rental and wedding venue. If you want to rent it out or hold a wedding/ event there you can find more information here: https://www.boconnion.co.uk/
What with Covid-19 raging away around the world I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get away on holiday this year. Various different countries came and went off the safe quarantine list, so my options started to get quite limited. In the end after a couple of abortive holiday attempts, I decided to head to Sicily. Italy was on the safe list and I figured if the UK cancelled the air bridge while I was away hopefully it would only be for mainland Italy not the islands and Sicily was meant to have a particularly low R rate. A few years ago I’d spent a glorious month in Sardinia with an ex, so I’d always wanted to check out Sicily as well. I waited til the UK Government usually added countries to the no fly list on Thursday evening and then when Italy was still safe booked my flights for just a few days later to avoid any chance of then getting cancelled. Return flights came to a relatively bargain price of just over £100. Though it was was Ryanair and I elected to only take hand luggage. I always think this is enough, but it’s really not. I do really need more space for all my many grooming products!
I checked in and posted on Facebook that I was flying to Palermo and on landing I got a message from an old friend, Gabriel, telling me he was also in Palermo and that it was his birthday weekend, so before I knew it we were meeting for drinks and he was inviting me to his birthday party on the Saturday night. Suffice to say I spent the first few days in Palermo rather tipsy. We went to a lovely little bar/ restaurant called Al Chiosco where we had many Aperol Spritz and then dinner. Later on we ended up in Exit, Palermo’s only gay bar which was really buzzing. I met a lovely couple from Turin and even bumped into another London friend there. That went on til quite late and to be honest I don’t even remember getting back to my Airbnb I was so drunk. Saturday daytime was therefore a bit of a write off, then in the evening it was time for Gabriel’s birthday party. I met the boys at the bar from last night and we got a taxi to Villa Napoli, a stunning venue just a short car journey outside Palermo. The party was amazing and I got to try at lot of traditional Sicily food. We also had a full on dj and proper disco which was amazing after so long of being in lockdown and nightclubs closed in the UK.
Finding a good authentic laksa in London is not easy, but I’d heard good things about this place and with the Eat Out to Help Out scheme I felt it was as good time as time as any to give it a try. What with it being named after the namesake dish I had high expectations. I started with a honey duck bao bun. While the filling was pleasant enough, the bun was a bit hard in places and certainly not the soft pillowy bun one would expect. It was also torn, to be honest if I was the chef I wouldn’t have served it, but they did. Not a great start. For the main dish I of course also ordered a laksa. There was several different options but I went for the classic Singapore-style curry laksa. This dish was better, as one would hope for a restaurant literally named after the dish. Was it the best Laksa I’ve ever had no, not the worst either, pretty average overall though. Also afterwards I had quite a nasty stomach ache, which I’m not certain but may or may not have been from the meal. Either way don’t think I’ll be going back. My search for a decent Laksa in London continues.
The Green Goose is my local ie. the closest pub to where I live. It used to be a really rough old East End boozer called The Lord Cardington. In fact the Pokemon Go stop still has it listed under that name. A few years ago now it was taken over and had a massive much needed refurb. I’ve been quite a lot since then, but this was the first time after lockdown and the first time I’d been for food. I went for dinner there with two of my neighbours Adam and Craig who are in my support bubble. We went as part of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, therefore all the food was half price up to a maximum discount of £10 each. After a few pints of Five Points IPA, we ordered a chateaubriand, which was for two to share and also a rib eye steak. All came with chips, roasted tomato and a little watercress salad. We all ordered our steaks medium rare, they were perfectly cooked and a bargain at just £10 each because of the deal. Really good quality meat as well. They also had a whole lobster on the menu for just £10. With our steaks we had a lovely Argentinian Malbec which perfectly complemented the food. I mean is there much better in life than a perfectly cooked steak and a glass of decent red wine I ask you? Afterwards, though we really didn’t need it, we all ordered the sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. It’s one of my favourite desserts ever and this was a decent version. Love this place, good honest pub food done very well.