Although Mum and I didn’t have time to eat at Beningbrough Hall, we didn’t have to go hungry for long. Our Red Bus Day Out also included a visit to Fodder, a fabulous cafe and farm shop on the edge of the Great Yorkshire Show Ground on the outskirts of Harrogate.
The idea for Fodder came about in 2001 as a way of helping farmers in Yorkshire after the devastating outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease that year and all profits go to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, a charity which continues to help farmers, especially in hard times. From small beginnings, Fodder now sells food and drink from 350 farmers and producers and 85% of what is sold is from Yorkshire.
After rushing around at Beningbrough Hall, we were ready for a nice glass of white wine, a sandwich and a pot of tea, but, when we saw the menu, we were a bit spoiled for choice as there was so much on there that looked good. Finally we settled for an open sandwich with cream cheese, avocado, horse radish puree and smoked salmon, with a side salad – and it was so big, delicious and filling that we didn’t have room left for any cakes, even though they looked very tempting.
But the avocado set Mum off reminiscing about the first time she’d ever eaten it. She said it was way back in 1983, a time when most people didn’t go out to eat except on special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries and even then they were rather limited in what they could have, unless they were wealthy. Starters were usually a choice of prawn cocktail, sliced melon or soup of the day, followed by main courses such as scampi and chips, chicken and chips, gammon with pineapple and chips or plaice and chips, all accompanied by peas and occasionally half a tomato, while the puddings were a choice of Black Forest Gateau, sherry trifle or rubbery cheese and biscuits – all of which were filling but not very exciting.
On the day Mum first ate avocado, however, she was at a very posh lunch at a very posh hotel in London. It had been organised by a romantic novelists’ group from the USA and the chief guest was Barbara Cartland, who was often known as the Queen of Romance. As well as writing novels, she also wrote some non-fiction books. One of these would be published in 1984 and eventually be called The Romance of Food, but at the time of the lunch it was still under preparation and had the working title of The Food of Love and every dish that was served used a recipe from it.
When the first course arrived, however, no one on Mum’s table knew what it was – they could only see that it was green and had been cooked in a circular mould. There were various guesses as to whether it was animal or vegetable, then someone was bold enough to try a little and declare it to be avocado mousse. The second course was more recognisable, being chicken served up in an orange sauce, but with that, too, there was a mystery veg – something that looked like the pods from under-ripe peas, but which we later found out to be mange-touts.
Pudding was a heart-shaped meringue, surrounded by strawberry jus and bright pink fondant hearts, and this was used as the main picture on the cover of the book. Mum enjoyed most of it, but unfortunately another author on her table wasn’t over-impressed. Having sent most of her plates back with the food barely touched, she declared, “If this is the Food of Love, then I’d rather stay celibate!” That still makes Mum laugh to this day, but she doesn’t think Dame Barbara would have been amused.
After all that reminiscing, there was just nice time to go into the farm shop and buy some cheese, some venison pate and a tin of clotted cream fudge, then once more it was time to get on the bus to come home.
I thought I’d sit by the window and look out, but I’d forgotten that the dreaded Red Kites live out there and suddenly I saw two of them circling over a nearby field. As you’ll know from one of my earlier posts, ( 13. A DAY OUT IN DURHAM PART I) I’m terrified of them and so I quickly jumped back in Mum’s handbag and stayed there until I was sure I was out of their range.
Follow my next blog: 32. A MAY DAY MISCELLANY – PART I