Thanks England, Scotland and Wales

9.54am, Saturday 2nd October, Borough Market where the Southwark Cathedral bells are clanging on for ages like crazy in a nice way right now London, England, UK

It’s an absolutely beautiful morning for our last day in London this trip, and on such a nice day it’s a shame, but I’m going to have to have the red white and black St Kilda flag at half mast in mourning folks. That’s because this morning – Saturday afternoon back home in Australia – my Saints boys were given a hiding by the Collingwood steamroller in the AFL Grand Final Replay. That’s two years in a row we’ve made the big game, and two years in a row we’ve missed out. All the very best to the boys in the team, and to the Red White and Black army everywhere – and they are everywhere – keep the faith, have a top festive season, and we’ll see you at Family Day in Frankston in the New Year ready to back up and go again!

Now, to the big exit from London. We’ve got the plane out from Heathrow at 10 pm tonight, so today I’m taking our sparkling winemaker Nat Fryar out to see a pub on Hampstead Heath that Chris and I found where they’re doing great things with regional and seasonal food, and we’d love to get on their wine list. It’s called The Bull and Last. It has upstairs and downstairs dining, and they’ve managed to not lose that lovely “it’s a pub with better than good food not a brass & glass referb gastro pub” feel to the place. They can do a proper ‘lemon lime & bitters’ refresher – go the Kiwi barmaid! – and the coffee is good too. Hereare the highlights for me off their current menu – see what you think. (The photos might not bob up straight away as Tony is still in the US and Ryan’s wife just had a baby – the boys do the techo stuff.)

English beet salad

The English Beet salad – purple & golden beetroot, cows curd, beetroot fritters, walnut & rocket. Now don’t flick past this – underneath the rocket leaves is one of the best veg things I’ve seen this trip. Beetroot pureed with sherry vinegar and frozen into quennelles then tempura battered and deep fried. This is enough to take beetroot from poor relation to the spotlight in one fell swoop.

Chips and fritters

The Triple Cooked Chips and Courgette Fritters also get top billing – deep fried heaven that will put pounds on you as they land on the table. The chips are hand cut, and into the fryer three times, so have this sensational crackly crisp outer and fluffy soft inner – yep I ate several! The courgette fritters are shredded slices into the hot oil, and they end up coming out looking like a deep fried affro of zucchini.

The fool!

For dessert, don’t go past the Greengage Fool, where they are using the end-of-season Greengage plums, pureed with biscuit bits added to provide the layers in the folded whipped cream and yoghurt, then the whole thing is topped with a scoop of ginger stem ice cream. This would be magic with our Botrytis Viognier which is all honey and apricot. Yes it would.

PS If you want to go out to The Bull and Last on the weekend for lunch or dinner, make sure you book – it’s busy!

So even though I had best intentions of getting all my road trips written up before leaving town – didn’t get there. But I do have a heap of time in Singapore tomorrow waiting for my plane ride on to Adelaide, so I might get a couple of stops out of the road then. There’s a couple of things that really do warrant some serious mention – Holbeck Gyll in The Lakes District, Fisherman’s Retreat in Ramsbottom, Estbeck House in Sandsend, Abbey Wines in Melrose (Scotland), and Wine Importers In Scotland. So there’s the hit list for Singapore.

So thanks a huge amount England, Scotland and Wales. We loved nearly all of the weather, absolutely all of the hospitality, and we’re looking forward to doing it all again in the not too distant future. Thanks for having our wines on your shelves, winelists or in your shopping baskets – and we’ll see you when the mud dries.

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