Being taken out for the night by a non drinker is always a huge coup. Like that rogue pound coin found in your winter coat pocket in September, the sly after eight mint that got away in the box full of empty wrappers or weighing yourself at someone else's house only for the scales to have dropped five pounds.
Upon this very evening, my partner in crime and I headed not to far from our hometown of
Having just returned back home to the Lancashire region after a stint of living in the West Midlands I am like a calf finding it’s feet and falling in love again with the natural beauty and magical lure of our humble county.
The drive for us this evening through the charming little chasm of Whalley and on into Mitton itself, was not for hedonistic view finding purposes but to fill our bellies with fine
The swirling B roads en route to our destination favoured by ramblers, cyclists and bikers always exude to me an air of mystery. The bobbing trees protecting the roads like a guard of honour, enveloped in the swooshing glory of both the Hodder and the Ribble, yes, as my grandparent's would say, and with a gulp and lump in my throat, this truly is God's country.
The despondent and melancholy tones of your typical July evening in
After all. We were hungry people.
The place in question, The Three Fishes at Mitton.
As ubiquitous to our gradely county as creamy
Thanks to the genius mastermind of Mr Nigel Haworth, the good townspeople are now able to experience Michelin starred cooking in a homely, toasty environment in the rolling splendour of the Ribble Valley.
A staunch user of local produce, the Three Fishes and it's fellow Ribble Valley Inns are abundant with some of the most shining jewels from the fields and coastlines of Lancashire. Nigel is a champion of sourcing his ingredients within the region and the suppliers sit proudly upon the walls and are mentioned on the menu's. A true ambassador for the county and the amazing array of produce it has on offer, Nigel works very closely with the farmers, suppliers and growers in the quest for creating a menu that will make Lancashire proud.
The produce is used with spirited wit, charm, patience and sensitivity to create a true gastronomic experience.
Only on our journey to Mitton, my friend and I were lamenting on the “good old days of
Mr Haworth has played a superb role in bringing the best of
An accomplished chef in his own right, Mr Haworth has been “grafting” as we would say in the north for well over 20 years.
He was the first person we could identify as trying to put
The Three Fishes is one of those places that I want to go when I am feeling in the mood for full on comfort eating. The type of meal where you might need to wear a loose fitting dress for that extra boost of support. I am not part of a gang of female dieters who steal other people’s bread, chips, puddings and nibbles of cheese.
If I am ordering. I am having it. All.
My friend in the driving seat had not visited before and having been told in advance that we had to be early, we hot footed it down before 8pm as well advised by the assistant on the telephone.
Our damp arrival was greeted with a bubbly smile and our names were etched onto the already bustling chalkboard. We were told a wait of 45 minutes which soon squashed down to 25 minutes.
Time to sample the fine beverages upon offer.
The décor in The Three Fishes is quintessential countryside chic. I think of a slick saloon vibe when I look around. The bar area has a feel of the “Deadwood Stage” in Calamity Jane with it’s warm chocolate hues and stone floors. An Inn in every true sense of the word. No chrome seats, glass tables or feathered chandeliers here. Real and honest to the core.
A gust of cheese on toast and the faint aroma of homemade chips were a welcoming aroma.
Being cold Annie, The Three Fishes and it’s room brimming full of people made it a perfect environment- not a cardigan in sight!
My abstaining companions eyes lit up as he saw the array of cold non alcoholic beverages on display, in particular, the Sarsaparilla.
Being one of our many driving topics of conversation, it was only customary that when in
I of the non driving variety ordered a Tanqueray and tonic on ice. When on school holidays……….????
My driver would fit in well with the Sarsaparilla society in their heyday.
Sarsaparilla owes it’s creation to the temperance movement in the late 1800’s in
A certain Mrs. Lewis at this time, was not happy with level of carousing and boozing amongst the town.
Now, it is worth a mention here to hold our good
This was a time of heavy industry. Most of the towns that stretched the borders of the Pennines were cotton mills.
You see, before we were just known in a Beatles song and for our terrific football team winning the premier league in 1995, we were the Kings of Cotton.
Honest, hardworking men and women would be working long hours and many would leave work in the dark. Customarily, the workers would head to the pub after a long and tiring day.
Mrs. Lewis was very proactive in her campaigns against the drinking and was involved with different council boards to try and stop the amount of alcohol being consumed in
Dark, sticky and just the right level of fizz, with subtle smoky undertones of liquorice and the sassiness of the Sarsaparilla root.
My friend was on a temperance binge and decided to order another Mawson’s favourite of Dandelion and Burdock.
Now, on't tucker.
Only recently, following the great tradition of her mentor Mr. Haworth, Lisa went on to win the starter course of The Great British Menu 2010 of which she executed a stunning dish with bags of
The sweet Goosnargh duck oozed with every reason of why chefs from Macclesfield to
A cross between Aylsebury and a
Like chewing through melted toffee, the meat was wrapped delicately with a crisp and honey coloured layer of pastry which provided the perfect balance of a buttery crumb which silently smashed into crumbs allowing a mop up with fingers at the end.
Like a hidden foil egg in my grandma’s allotment at Easter, I dug out the shard of scratching that accompanied my mound of salad leaves and chewed it with great gusto. The utopian balance of charred crunchiness played against the gooey and spongy texture was a triumphant end to my starter.
The wicked mayonnaise was smeared onto the discs of mini garlicky breads and submerged into the sea of reds and rust. I was a little bit Mrs. Lewis about adding the delectable
A sneaky little addition which added a new dimension to our French fancy.
A wave of euphoric silence and half groaned yoga positions gave only one suggestion.
We were both beaten.
What? No puddings!
By Eck indeed.
Had we have stayed, it was all about the bramley apple pie, needless to say for the greed factor and for the fact that unlike your average gastro pub, this is served with condensed milk AND a piece of cheese in the pie.
Now that is why it certainly is not grim up north.
In a time of cutting back on dining out and treating yourself once a month, The Three Fishes is a highly recommended choice for your pennies.
Just make sure you are not the one driving.