Fiftieth anniversaries don’t come around all that often – only every oh…. fifty years. So, of course, as my in-laws are celebrating their golden wedding, the proverbial boat is pushed out on behalf of the happy couple and a rather splendid country retreat in the wilds of North Yorkshire is booked for the weekend. We’re putting on a buffet for the main event but, of course, there still needs to be a meal out and it’s useful if the venue can be reached on foot – so the necessary research is done and it’s discovered that we can eat en famille at The Foresters Arms in the local village, a picturesque community pub. Keith and Lesley, the owners, are a quirky delight: friendly and sardonic in equal measure; there’s a real warmth to this place (even though they’re very hot on the reminders that we should be on time).
There are eight of us to dine and we are quickly seated and our food brought to us. I begin with the smoked bacon and black pudding salad, topped with a runny poached egg, which is absolutely delightful, even if it does have the vegetarians in our group looking aghast. There is also a fine grilled goat’s cheese salad across the table and a lot of bowls of tomato and basil soup, which, since everyone who ordered it has eschewed cream, tastes rather tangier than it might do. Still, that’s their own fault for rejecting the dairy delight.
Next up for me is a steak and ale pie, served with creamy mash. The pie is delicious, deeply flavoursome and topped with a light crispy pastry. Susan goes for the smoked haddock, which comes with a lovely cheesy sauce, rich with the flavour of English mustard. For the vegetarians, there is a very good gnocchi and a vegetable lasagne, both of which are pronounced ‘very tasty.’ Our nephew has ordered a butterfly chicken but it must have fluttered away because I never get a chance to sample it. I should perhaps add that two huge helpings of steamed vegetables are also brought to the table, much more than could ever be consumed by mere humans, but they’re nicely cooked so we do our best.
The Foresters also offers an array of delicious traditional puddings, but there is a rather splendid cake waiting for us back at the cottage, so we head back for that instead. Should you find yourself in the vicinity of Calton and you don’t have a fiftieth anniversary cake waiting for you, maybe you could sample those puddings and let us know what you think? Otherwise, it’s hats off to Keith and Lesley and their staff for feeding us so well and hopefully we’ll be back to celebrate the big 100th in 2067…. we promise to be on time!