Freelance writer Square Sparrow lives on a rambling smallholding in rural Scotland with her husband (HunterGatherer) and, now and then, their three offspring. Other smallholding incumbents include one overly indulged feline called FatCat, a similarly rotund Highland pony called FatHorse, plus a flock of rather attractive Shetland sheep – known affectionately as the Chocolate Sheep because of their rich assortment of wool colours (and because of Square Sparrow’s passion for chocolate).
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Lunch at The Roost – a very pleasant way to unruffle your feathers
Whilst I may
always have banned the “C” word in our household until the 1st of December
each year while the kids were small (thereby avoiding Santa talk for at least
11 months out of 12), my principles were not so inflexible this week as to
prevent me from accepting an invitation from an old and dear family friendto join her for a lunch billed as “your early
Christmas present”. Especially when that
lunch just happened to be at Tim and Anna Dover’s award-winning Perthshire restaurant
Tim and Anna
are passionate about what they do. That will be clear to anyone who has had the
enviable experience of dining at The Roost over the past couple of years or who
followed their progress recently on Marco Pierre White’s Kitchen Wars on
Channel 5. This passion translates
itself into a simple yet superb eating experience in the peaceful, rural
setting of a converted hen house in Bridge of Earn, a mile or so outside Perth.
friend had just returned from a trip to France during which she had been wined
and dined in Cognac so, for her, the culinary benchmark was set high. In my
case, any meal that I don’t have to prepare myself is fantastic, although I
knew from previous experience that this wouldn’t be just “any meal”.
eschewed breakfast in favour of writing – my NaNoWriMoquest continues, despite the
obstacles of innumerable eager English tutees and marathon taxi runs – I shamelessly had a starter, and also partook
of the tasty slice of tomato bread proffered by an attentive waitress soon
after we sat down .
Since I’m a
great fan of risotto, it didn’t take me long to select the very seasonal
Pumpkin Risotto from the mouth-watering menu.
Whenever I attempt to cook rice, it usually ends up a very sad, soggy,
tasteless affair; but this risotto was another breed entirely. It was beautifully presented, with the orange
hue of the pumpkin enhanced by a starkly contrasting bright green liquid around
the edge of the dish – upon enquiry, I was informed by Anna that the said
gorgeous green concoction was basil oil. Its delicate herby flavour infused
perfectly with that of the pumpkin, making a very successful savoury combo which
was rapidly dispatched by Yours Truly.
Vibrant green basil oil set the pumpkin risotto off to perfection
Next it was
time for the main courses. Our family friend had chosen the Ayrshire pork loin,
with grain mustard mashed potato, red cabbage and caramelised apple, and proclaimed
it to be excellent.Meanwhile I stuck
with the veggie theme (though this was pure chance – I’m not a vegetarian) and
opted for the Parmesan and Parsnip tart served with beetroot and spinach. As an
avid beetroot fan, I tucked in with gusto to the halo of roasted beetroot
chunks dotted round the circumference of the plate, before turning my attention
to the tart itself.If gravity hadn’t
been conspiring against it, I swear the pastry was so light, this tart would
have floated off the plate – instead it was fork-borne towards my very
appreciative palate, where the fusion of parmesan and parsnip flavours
certainly hit the mark.
Loving that beetroot...
asked Anna as she cleared our empty plates.
“Rude not to,” we decided and promptly plumped (perhaps an unfortunate
choice of word!) for the cherry frangipane tart with ice cream and the lemon
tart with blood orange sorbet respectively.
Once again, we were not to be disappointed. My luncheon companion was
rapturous in her praise for the generous slice of frangipane tart which arrived
before her, and I was in a state of citrus bliss after my encounter with the
zesty lemon tart and refreshing orange sorbet.
Enjoying our just 'desserts'!
re-energised and inspired by such a wonderful dining experience, I thanked my
kind friend profusely for her invitation to what had been one of the best early
Christmas presents a gastronomically inclined girl could wish for.Then it was back up the M90 to harness all
that inspiration as I ploughed on with my own creative efforts for NaNoWriMo, currently
sitting at 20 thousand words, many of them penned while burning the midnight
oil – which is, I can confirm, not half as enjoyable as eating basil oil...