Lunch at Michelin-Starred “The Sportsman”

January is usually quite a grim month. After all the festiveness, the celebrations and the never-ending food consumption of December, January seems like the grey, hung over version of winter. It’s kind of like the calendar year going “yes, you had your fun, now you have to pay for it.” January really is a tough one!

But, I decided not to let the January effect affect my mood! And the best way to counterbalance this month’s harshness is by just pretending it’s still December –  without the Christmas tree.

So, in order to treat ourselves, a bunch of us decided to jump in the car and leave grey London for a weekend. Destination: Kent. This lovely party of the UK was where I got to spend most of my student days, so I keep very fond memories of it. But one of the things I had missed out on during my 3 years in Kent was eating at the delightfil Sportsman pub, in Seasalter near Whitstable. Its reputation and Michelin star make it quite hard to get a table. Fortunately my foodie friend M. had thought ahead in December, and made a booking one month ahead. So, come January, we had something culinary to look forward to.

The Sportsman lies pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Only grassy landscapes and the sea with its cute beach huts surround this quaint restaurant. It’s perfect to head there on a sunny day and go for a stroll at the beach before tucking into the Sportsman’s rustic food. However, on our visit, it was so utterly cold that standing outside for more than five minutes would have left you with frostbite. So, we decided to skip the stroll and just eat.

Lunch started with a selection of little appetizers. We received some smoked mackerel on dark bread as well as the most heavenly pork scratchings I’ve ever tasted! They were still luke warm, crispy and melting, and you could dip them into a mustard vinegrette. Truly stunning.

I chose a starter of smoked salmon. Not very original, I know, but very yummy. They smoke their salmon in their own smokehouse, which is great. Mains all looked really lovely, and I ended up going for the roast chicken with home-made sausage, bread sauce, roast potatoes and gravy. All very nice, except for the roast potatoes, which tasted too greasy and were not crispy enough.

Choosing a dessert was quite tricky. They all sounded so good. So we ended up ordering everything on the menu and got loads of spoons to try it all. Very good move indeed, since everything was worth a try.

However, the absolute highlight was a trio of desserts, which had to be eaten one after the other (from right to left – too bad V. is lefthanded – she was pretty confused by which way to eat it). It started with this crazy apple sorbet, which was fizzy on the top. It turned out to be laced with sherbet, so that it popped on your tongue. M. loved it so much that he ordered another single portion of sorbet.

To finish the meal off, we had a mint tea, accompanied by these home-made truffles.

A very nice way to start off the year. May many culinary adventures follow! ★

January 30, 2011

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