Ludlow: A Gastronomic Paradise (Part 1)September 5th, 2010
Last weekend I was invited to Ludlow to experience some of the culinary delights this small town has to offer. Ludlow is a situated in Shropshire in England, close to the Welsh border and it has become renowned for the food it offers, from local produce and specialist food shops to markets and restaurants. The town boasts eight AA Rosette starred and two Michelin starred restaurants and it hosts the famous Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival each September.
I travelled up on Sunday morning and stayed overnight at Fishmore Hall, a boutique hotel overlooking Ludlow, where I sampled the cuisine of head chef, David Jaram, in the 2 AA Rosette restaurant at the hotel that evening. David has been with the hotel since it opened in 2007, starting as sous chef and taking over as head chef when his predecessor moved on. He’s very down to earth and it is clear from the way he talks about the local area and food, and from the ‘Taste of the Marches’ tasting menu he has devised that he fully appreciates how fortunate he is to be in such a hub of quality local produce; and he certainly makes the most of it. What comes across the strongest when talking to him is how much he wants the diners to enjoy the food and to come back again. And it would seem that he’s doing a good job. As I sat talking to him a happy diner beamed as she stopped by our chairs on the way out to ask if he was indeed the David Jaram she’d heard about and to thank him for her sunday lunch.
That evening started in the hotel lounge with canapés that included thin melt-in-the-mouth Parmesan sticks and teensy cottage pies that are making my mouth water at the memory. Alongside the standard six course tasting menu a vegetarian tasting menu is on offer, and David will happily change any dish on either menu to accommodate. There are also the options of A La Carte or a vegetarian menu.
We moved into the intimate dining room and onto a velvety cauliflower veloute with truffle oil followed by a mackerel & baby leek terrine and then perfectly tender quail with truffle gnocchi, fried egg and consommé. The next course was one of my favourites, seared scallops, which, again, were perfectly cooked and teamed with a thin sliver of smoked bacon, cauliflower and caramel, which I’d never had with scallops before but I’d love to have again. This was followed by roast loin of lamb with sweet potato, garlic, and salsa verdi.
The food was beautifully presented and cooked very well with a good balance of flavours. If I were to be critical I would have to say that I found a couple of the courses to be a touch over-salted my liking, but then the question of seasoning is of course very subjective.
Each course was matched with a great wine pairing, helpfully explained by our French sommelier. I really don’t know much about wine, other than what I like the taste of, but I felt perfectly at ease with my lack of knowledge as I was guided through the wines with friendliness and good humour.
The meal ended spectacularly with a course of local cheeses and a gravity-defying Strawberry and Elderflower Soufflé with yoghurt sorbet and strawberry soup which was absolutely delightful, even if it did beat me as I was sadly too full to finish it.
In the second part of this post I’ll tell you about my visit to the Ludlow Food Centre but in the meantime here are some resources, blog posts and Twitter people to check out:
A Foodie Tour of Ludlow Part 1
A Foodie Tour of Ludlow Part 2
Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival
Official Shropshire Tourism Website
@Ludlowfoodfest on Twitter
@fishmorehall on Twitter
Please leave me a comment if you know of any other good online resources, have an experience of Ludlow to share, or know of a good place to visit in the town.