Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Lentil Shepherdess

During a visit to Durham cathedral yesterday I decided to have lunch. I hate the lunchtime boredom of sandwiches, soup and baked potatoes. Can there be anything more truly revolting than a baked potato with tuna in cheap mayonnaise? The only thing a baked potato should come with is lashings of good butter and sea salt.
At the cathedral they were offering shepherdess pie and I thought that would be lovely, nice and hot, tasty, for such a cold day so I queued, sat down and began to eat.
To be fair, I should have asked how it differed from shepherd's pie. Shepherd's pie has minced beef. Shepherdess pie has ... lentils??  Oh my God.  The vegetables were cold, the pie with nothing without its meat.
There are some terrible eating places in Durham. I don't know why. Is it something to do with tradition or is it just that nobody complains?
Bhs store takes the biscuit for this if you will pardon the pun. This cafe has the best view in Durham but the food is appalling. I go for the view and the staff who are lovely but all I ever eat there is hot buttered toast.
For decent chains we have Ask and Zizzi's so you know what you're getting.
Vennels do wonderful cake and the staff are lovely there too.
The best place for Sunday roast or fish and chips is my local, The Garden House Hotel in North Road and the chef prides himself on his wonderful puddings.
In summer I go to the Cellar Door where I can sit by the river and watch the sun go down. The food is great, the staff too.
The cafes in Durham tend to be dark and in old buildings which they can't do much about. The cafe beside the Barker library, in a gorgeous building on Palace Green does sandwiches without butter. No, I have no idea why either.
We are now being urged to eat 'real food' and to ignore what we have been told about eating too much fat. I think the culprit is sugar so I try not to go too far with it. A balance is always good but most of all I will not eat food which is not good for me or tastes bad.
Chez Liz is the best eating place in town now, the wine is superb because I choose it, the food exactly what I want because there's only me and anyway I hate cooking for other people. I feel like I'm putting myself on the line somehow and it takes the pleasure from it. I feel like Mary, from Agatha Christie's The Body in the Library, who was the vicar's maid of all work, slogging away in the bloody vicarage while the vicar's wife sat on her arse. No wonder Mary overcooked or undercooked all the food.
At Chez Liz there are no complaints. Even last week when the second night of had been an excellent chicken curry was cooked to buggery in the microwave. The Aromatic Yellow Basmati rice was a kind of puke slop.
One of these days when I am rich I shall go and live at Matfen Hall where the food is the best. Would I get tired of it?  Oh, please, Lord, give me the chance!  In the meanwhile the dinner at Chez Liz is leek, lemon and white wine risotto and has to be better than the shepherdess I ate at the cathedral.

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