It’s been a while since I went anywhere new for brunch.
What with the whole global pandemic thing, and then a new puppy who quite frankly I find scary enough taking to an empty field, the opportunity hasn’t really arisen for me to enjoy a casual sweetcorn fritter or two somewhere new and exciting. In fact when I went back and checked, the last time I wrote about going out for brunch was when I had homemade baked beans at The Weir in February 2020, which felt rather poignant and sad.
A couple of weeks ago though, when Mako the puppy was going through a short, well behaved phase where I trusted her not to bark loudly in my face for half an hour or so, Belle and I decided to brave it and take her out for her first ever brunch. Frogmary Green Farm‘s cafe and restaurant, Farm and Field, said it was dog friendly and it was far enough from home that if we did end up causing a scene we could just never go back and no one would be any the wiser.
As it was, Mako was very well behaved, and so you now ARE the wiser.
We went while they were having their one of their sunflower weekends so that we could pretend we were going for a wholesome outdoor activity and not JUST pancakes, and although that has now finished I noticed that they have a pumpkin patch coming up soon, which would definitely be worth a visit. They also have their own small florist on site, Frogmary Flowers, which was very sweet. (Mako DID knock over a pot outside the flower shop but we stood it up again quickly and I think we got away with it.)
It was sad timing for me that just when I discovered my true life calling – brunch – the world was overtaken by a deadly pandemic and all of the cafes and restaurants shut down. No sooner had I recreated the banana bread at the Kitchen at Jordan’s Courtyard* than the world went mad and even getting hold of a bag of flour became like completing a room in the Aztec Zone on the Crystal Maze.
Just my luck, as Adrian Mole would say.
There’s something about brunch, as a concept, that means it’s just not the same when you make it at home. At home it becomes more of a ‘blimey it’s 11am and I still haven’t had breakfast’ kind of a meal. It’s not decadent like it is when you go out for brunch, it’s more a symptom of an inefficient morning.
I blame a lack of brunch, in part at least, for my emotional decline during lockdown, resulting in a rather embarrassing panic attack in the bin liner aisle of Sainsbury’s last week and a worrying obsession with ticks. I’m losing my grip, and so to reconnect with reality, with my One True Purpose, I decided to go all out today on a homemade brunch.
I decided to make Boston Tea Party sweetcorn fritters. View Post
A few weeks ago I had brunch with my friend Nicky at The Weir in French Weir Park. It was one of those beautiful January mornings where little droplets of cold snot form on the end of your nose as you walk and you can’t feel your feet but it’s worth it for the way the winter sun hangs low in the sky and the crisp air fills your lungs and lifts your spirits.
I’ve been to The Weir a few times before for coffee but never for food and I’ve been wanting to go ever since I saw that they do homemade baked beans on toast.
I have a bit of a soft spot for baked beans as it was pretty much impossible to visit my Gran and Grandad for any length of time and not be served them with slightly burnt toast and salty butter. If you got really lucky you’d get tinned beans and sausages with homemade crinkle cut chips. I don’t remember my Gran ever eating, just serving them to me and my Grandad, one tin between us, the eight sausages always divided out equally, never left to chance. View Post
A couple of weekends ago I took Belle for brunch at Kitchen at Jordans Courtyard. We ate banana bread, we played cards, we secretly watched a little boy with an adorable bowl cut eat pizza – it was a good day.
I’m a big fan of the original Kitchen at The Wharf in Langport, not least because if I get lucky I can sit at my old kitchen table, which found a new home there after I realised I couldn’t open my back door properly with it in my own house. (It’s a round one with white painted legs and a bare wooden top, should you fancy visiting it.) To be honest I prefer the eclectic, mismatched decor and the cosy atmosphere of Kitchen in Langport, but Belle likes it when things are a bit more in order, and so she prefers the new version of Kitchen at Jordans Kitchen.
They’re essentially both nice though.
(Year 5 level review for you there. Honestly, I should consider writing for a living.)
What’s especially nice about them both is the food. Their menus change with the seasons and they source as much of their fresh produce as possible from local suppliers. They also run their own artisan bakery in Langport, so they really are all about quality ingredients and cooking from scratch.
I browsed the menu at Jordans Courtyard while Belle practiced shuffling cards. She was trying to master the thing where you split the pack and sort of flick the two halves together, whilst trying to look casual and cool. A well-shuffled pack is very important for a serious game of Go Fish.
It took me a long time to decide because basically I wanted everything. I was especially drawn to the toasted banana bread with granola and yogurt because that’s not something I’ve ever seen on a brunch menu before, but also I wanted the big breakfast because FRIED POTATO ROSTI. Any kind of fried potato item on a brunch menu is normally a clincher for me. I think it’s because fried potatoes always remind me of my Dad, being small and dipping bits of crispy potato in tomato ketchup. They’re such a treat aren’t they?
We decided to go with a bit of a joint effort and get the full breakfast to share, with homemade baked beans and sourdough toast, and then the banana bread as a joint pudding. The breakfast would actually have been enough between us as it was really filling. A split breakfast works well for us as I don’t really like bacon and Belle doesn’t like sausage or black pudding. (I bloody love black pudding.)
I was questioned earlier this week about my PURPOSE.
Not like in a police station, I’d not been brought in for loitering, more in a ‘what drives you?’ kind of way. I wasn’t sure how to answer because what with the midlife unravelling I’m not sure I have one at the moment.
‘Does brunch count?’ I asked hopefully. ‘I really like going out for brunch.’
Apparently brunch does not count, not as a life calling at least, but the more I thought about it the more I realised how much I really do love brunch. You remember when I moved back to Taunton and cried in the street because there was nowhere good to get eggs florentine?*
Brunch matters not just because of the toasty muffins and runny yolks, but because of what it represents. Brunch is a lifestyle – I wanted to create a way of working that gave me flexibility in my life to do more of the things I enjoy and to not have to show up for a job every single day that felt like it was sucking at my soul. And I did, which I should probably acknowledge more, and now I can have brunch any goddam day I want and no one can tell me otherwise.
Brunch is also about people. Working on my own for ten years hasn’t always been easy, but brunch is a way to get that much needed human contact. ‘Do you fancy brunch?’ you can say to someone, and they’ll say yes, and off you’ll go, knowing that as well as the joy of a smashed avocado you’re going to get an hour with a person who adds something to your life and, in return, you can add something to theirs.
And so, new for 2020, I’m introducing my new regular feature – BRUNCH CLUB!
A couple of times a month I’m going to go out for brunch and then tell you about it. It might be in the style of a proper food review, but more likely I’ll get distracted and tell you a story about the time I once tried to make my own baked beans or had an awful brunch related date. I might use it as an excuse to show you how to make the perfect poached egg, or maybe I’ll have brunch with someone incredibly interesting or important and share their story with you. View Post