Monday, 25 February 2013

Along with a set of Beer Goggles and a fully working Beer Compass...Inapub February 2013

Along with a set of Beer Goggles and a fully working Beer Compass, no visit to the pub should be undertaken without a functional set of Beer Cutlery. While these may resemble your fingers, under the magic influence of a pint they become wondrous utensils which enable you to consume foodstuffs that you wouldn’t go near in the cold light of day.

Twiglets are high on my personal list. I can normally get by quite happily without troubling my insides with sharp, pointy breadsticks smeared with Marmite, but after a single sip of best bitter they become irresistible.

The Beer Cutlery equivalent of moving onto hard drugs is clearly the Kebab. It may take a few pints, but there comes a point when even the most fastidious gourmet realises that the only way to put a dent in their gnawing hunger is to ingest unidentified grilled meatoid cubes, garnished with limp salad and a chilli sauce with the half-life of strontium.

However, I’m pleased to let you know that I’ve discovered the pub food equivalent of the Holy Grail – a dish that tastes amazing when you’ve had a beer or two, and actually excites the taste buds even more when you’re stone cold sober.         

The gastronomic treat in question is the Cheese & Onion Toastie served at The Hope in Carshalton, which is the current CAMRA Greater London Pub of the Year and, for me, a bracing 15 minute stroll from home. A few days before Christmas, I tried one while marking the festive season with a couple of mates. The combination of expertly-toasted crusty bread, melted mature cheddar and lightly sautéed onions was sublime.

So sublime, in fact that I doubted myself, and crept back to the Hope in the sober dawn of 2013 to give the Toastie another go – and it was just as good accompanied by an orange juice. This is pub food as is should be, and all the better for being served in a ‘real’ pub.   

On the menu this month: As one of the unfortunate one-twelfth of the population with a birthday in January, a month when no one has any money and most people seem to be dieting, I’m used to low-key celebrations. Little gestures make all the difference, so amidst a flurry of emails from pubs and restaurants offering various birthday discounts, it was nice to get the offer of a free ice-cream sundae from M&B’s Toby Carvery. That’s makes a birthday feel a lot more special than a five quid off voucher..    

This 'Pub Food with Porter' column appears in the February 2013 issue of Inapub

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