One of the only plus points of my recent toothache* has been the omnipresent taste of clove oil in my mouth. I won't bang on about My Toothache* as there's nothing duller than hearing someone else's hard luck story ( and, have you noticed, people take it as cue to tell you theirs - only you can guarantee that their story is far more dramatic , heroic amounts of pain withstood, fortitude and suffering, the likes of which Andy McNabb would have a hushed reverence for) . I find the taste of cloves just the right side of antiseptically spicy, both treaty and medicinal. And very seasonal. Most of my recent baking has been suffused with the good stuff, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and brown sugars - spiced pumpkin cakes, carrot cakes, sticky toffee cakes, both for the shop and for private orders. I have a wedding order in a couple of weeks for a spiced pumpkin cupcake tower that I'm particularly looking forward to working on. The decoration is on an autumnal and ivy leaf theme which I think will work beautifully, all russets and greens and golds. I'm also working on a cupcake order for an 18th birthday, going with a vibe of elegant sparkle, and that feels sneakily festive too, silver sparkles and stars. I am such a sucker for the festive vibe, I've already got my seasonal candles on the go of an evening ( spiced apple, honey and chocolate, spiced pear, red apple wreath, silver fir) and tonight, some people are coming over for a meal and I'll be cracking out a mini Christmas dinner, roast parsnips, stuffing, sprouts and all ! Sticky toffee sundae for pudding. Having had a fairly heavy baking time of it particularly over the last week, its almost a novelty to be making something non cake related ( and easy to eat - me teeth, you know..).Still,spaghetti hoops on brown buttered toast with grated cheese takes some beating ( had for tea twice this week. Never knowingly restrained..) but beaten it was this week, by a 7 course meal at Ramsons Restaurant in Bury. I've long wanted to go, having read the reviews , and finally made it late last week. Carpaccio of brill, seared scallops, breast of woodpigeon, brown shrimp ravioli, roast loin of venison, cheeses, pannacotta with fragolina grapes and then marmalade sponge with drambuie custard. Each course matched to a particular wine. All very well executed, smartly served , with purees and dashes of sauces and oils ( pea, saffron, lemon, beetroot, liquorice, rowan and juniper) here and there as you might expect, but I dunno...something lacked a bit. It felt, perhaps rather than tasted, all a little bit uniform. The owner was keen to make his presence felt and seemed to make sure we knew how much he knew about his wines. His bon mots felt a little bit over polished., as if he was determined to make himself the very epicentre of Your Ramsons Experience. I don't want to be churlish about a place that starting serving raw fish to Bury diners in 1985, and I won't groan that the scallops were served with a pea puree, because a classic is a classic ( spaghetti hoops and grated cheese) but I did find the atmosphere to be a little off. And try as I might, I just don't like wood pigeon. I want to, I think I should, but I don't. Same with duck and seabass. I'd love to love them, and airily order them..I've had them all done well, done badly but I just can't enjoy them. No-one knows what I suffer. Have I mentioned me teeth ?
* very painful