Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Lola II is lovely

Lola II in front of a large banana leaf in the Temperate House
The Food and Drink Festival was a two-day event, so I was looking forward to more venues on the Taste Trail with Mr A on Sunday. But first thing, I had to check various ebay auctions I was watching, because I was still feeling the pain of my ipod loss quite acutely. Sitting at the computer in my very unconventional nightwear at 9 a.m., the doorbell rang.

I asked the fully dressed Mr A to answer the door, and five seconds later the lovely Lola II walked into my room.

"This is your Lost Ipod Support Service House Call!" she announced. "What on earth are you wearing?"

I squealed with excitement at her for at least a minute, and jumped up and down, flapping my arms. When I had calmed down a bit, she said "I also have a saucepan that needs your attention."

This was quite true. The saucepan had something firmly encrusted on it, and had resisted Lola II's attempts with various cleaning products. After enquiring of the all-knowing Interwebnet, we decided to attack it with dishwasher powder. Leaving that to do its worst, and after I had dressed, we headed out on the town, promising to phone Mr A as soon as we moved on to the free food.

A tiered stand of pastel-coloured cupcakesFelafel and houmous on the stand with the chatty man

We toured the stalls in the Pump Room Gardens, taking particular note of the cupcake stand and a very talkative chap selling middle eastern delicacies. I had various other tasks to complete in town, and it was too early for the Taste Trail, so we headed off. It was shortly after this that we found ourselves in Marks & Spencer. Lola II worked her magic, and hey presto! I am now equipped with a cardigan. And so is she.

So on to the free food. We were joined by Mr A, and started with Koko's, which reminded us of a school canteen. They had a mini-carvery, with a small portion of beef and half a small yorkshire pudding on a small plate, and help yourself to potatoes, peas, carrots and cabbage. I forgot to take a photo, but never mind, you can imagine a mini roast dinner served by a dinner lady.

Table centrepiece of tank surrounded by ingredientsWe moved on to Sabai Sabai, which I had often thought of visiting, but I do dislike restaurants that feature a large TV screen in the bar area. Maybe I will overcome that dislike in future, because it was really very nice. Apart from the food, we all loved the display that included carrots carved into the shape of prawns, turtles and other sea creatures in a tank, surrounded by ginger, galangal, garlic and shallots. Click on the picture to see it better. You really should, it's beautiful.

There was nothing in the Taste Trail booklet that said you couldn't go to the same place twice - and Lola II hadn't been to the Restaurant in the Park, which had been the best of the day before. Except the deal didn't start until tea time. So we stopped off at the Newbold Bar and Brasserie, and stayed until they started bringing out their free wares, just so Lola II could have a taster...

Four bite-size portions of bread pudding, ice cream and berry icesThe Restaurant in the Park was even better than the day before: they brought enough for all of us so we didn't even have to share this time, and there was even a brass band playing outside. We were nearly full by now, but there was one more place I wanted to try: Bohemia@Willoughby.

This establishment has transformed itself more than once in the last few years. The latest version, with its trendy new name, has large paisley patterned walls in various colours (I liked the shiny black on matt black background), mostly dark decor and interesting chairs, a large TV screen, and banging music. The TV had no sound and was showing something that might have been Eastenders. Like Koko's, it wasn't our kind of place, but let's see what they could do for us.

Both service and food were disappointing. This made us wonder who had made the decision to take part in the Festival, and why they hadn't really followed that through with a strategy to market their wares in the best possible light.

We wended our way home, but Lola II's visit didn't end there. In the next exciting episode, we discover:
- how the encrusted pan turned out
- some thrilling ipod news
- plans for our holidays
- what we all did in the pub.

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

You WILL remember the places, for when we visit?

Brett said...

I've just built a new web site at let me know what you think.

The Woman who Can said...

And I'm hungry again! I need to only read you after meals...