Friday, August 27, 2010
I'm always amazed by the quality and consistency of food in the South of England. There is clearly a food renaissance occurring here and I am lucky enough to live in the heart of it. While America continues to let the big agricultural companies take over more and more of their crops and livestock, you know who I'm talking about; Monsanto, Con-Agra, farmers in England are being encouraged to scale back and produce better quality, denser, richer foods. Sure, there are still many multinationals pushing their drugged up, hormone filled, fake food, but it's now easier than ever to avoid them and go for the locally raised, organic food. No matter where you are. Case in point, the George and Dragon in Speldhurst. A small town outside Tunbridge Wells.
The George and Dragon is said to be the 2nd oldest pub in England. It dates back to 1212. In 2004 it was bought by Julian Leefe-Griffiths and since then quality has been on the rise. The idea was to replicate the food Julian and his wife, Sarah ate during a trip to Urbino, Italy. They noticed that all the food they were eating came from the local area. And, the rest is history. "Food From a Farm, Not A Factory" is the motto written on most of the promo sprinkled around the George and Dragon.
Parking is always a nightmare at the George and Dragon. It was no different on this glorious summer Sunday in England. We sat outside, several feet from a thriving Olive Tree and instantly I was transported to Urbino with Mr. Leefe-Griffiths. In that moment I understood his vision with total clarity. After a quick glance at the menu, we were ready to order. Service is quick and tidy. We were being served our main courses within 20 minutes of ordering. My Gill Wing Farm Duck Breast with Star Anise and Honey not only looks like a dish out of a Gourmet Magazine, but it tastes like it too. The Duck Breast was slightly crispy on the outside where the fat had caramelized and the reduction sauce was so good I could have eaten it with a spoon. It was incredibly savory, which balanced out the sweetness of the Honey nicely.
But, as this was Sunday I had to have Beef. A Sunday without Beef and Yorkshire Pudding is a Sunday wasted. Feel free to quote me on that line and use it on large posters and other promotional material. Luckily, one of my fellow diners was thoughtful enough to order the Prime Aged Roast Rump of Sussex Beef with Yorkshire Pudding. A classic example of this quintessentially English dish, which went very well with our Organic Chilean Merlot. The Yorkshire Pudding was cooked extremely well. In fact, I've only seen it done better in one pub and that's the Hinds Head in Bray. There was however, one dish that I was interested in more than all the others. And that, of course, was my wife's Groombridge Gloucester Old Spot Pork Belly with Apple Compote. Why did this dish interest me so much? Is wasn't the presentation, nor the intensely scented crackling wafting in my direction. It was the groans, moans and other utterances of pure gastronomic ecstasy, which my wife was displaying at the table. I took my fork on a little journey over to her side to investigate what all the fuss was about and I soon discovered what it was. Her Pork was so good I won't even try to describe it with my mediocre prose.
For dessert I had the selection of Artisan English Cheeses, lovingly paired with Chutney, Fruit and Biscuits. All of which were extremely good and went well with my 10 year old Whiskey. The other diners had more textbook, sweet desserts. And I'm grateful to them. The Raspberry and Fresh Mint Fool with Shortbread touched my taste buds like few desserts have. And the selection of Ice Creams were so fresh I could hear it mooing.
Clearly I am a fan of the George and Dragon. I agree totally with Julian's approach to food. I think it should be local, organic and all the flavors of the food should be exploited to their full potential. The George and Dragon delivers each and every time.
My professional photography website: Taylor Young Photography