Oh, the wondrous food you find when you travel to pastures new…
Take Black Butter, for instance. Ever heard of it?
Until our trip to Jersey, I hadn’t a clue what it was, let alone that such a thing existed.
If you’d asked me to guess, I’d have said it was something savoury – Butter rolled in Charcoal perhaps, or studded with chunks of Peppercorn.
But, as it happens, Black Butter is nothing like that. For starters, it’s sweet. And – perhaps surprisingly – it doesn’t contain any Butter at all: instead it’s made from Apples, Cider, Sugar, and numerous warming spices including Liquorice and Cinnamon.
Traditionally made to finish the glut of Apples left over from making Cider, it’s now somewhat of a luxury product (taking, as it does, up to 30 hours of constant stirring to create).
If you happen to be an insomniac with an orchard or two at hand, the Slow Food website has a recipe for the stuff here (very slow food, indeed…) There’s even an annual Black Butter making event – run by the National Trust – during which you can spend the night cooking it all.
However, having come too late in the year to join in – and not wanting to sacrifice 30 hours of our lives attempting the feat on our own – the Man and I made it our mission to seek out Black Butter in all the tea rooms we encountered.
Now, if I was a Jersey tea room owner, I’d make it my business to use as much Black Butter as I could. It’s unusual, after all – and tourists (like me and the Man) naturally want to try local things while they’re in the right place to do so.
Alas, it seemed, great minds did not think alike: for whatever reason, Black Butter was thin on the ground.
So elusive was the stuff, I started to think we had stumbled across a conspiracy; that perhaps the people who make Black Butter had committed some sort of heinous crime, and been excluded from every single bakery and cafe.
Even Holme Grown – providers of that impressive Gâteau St Honoré – had not a single smidgen of the stuff in either their shop or their cafe.
My craving for a Black Butter – namely in Cream Tea form – was looking increasingly like it would stay unsated.
But wait! Is that…?
It is! Yet another garden centre complex riding gallantly to the rescue!
This time it was Ransoms in St Martin – a place where you can buy freshly baked Cakes along with your sacks of manure.
And there, quite clearly, on the menu? The option of a Scone with Black Butter and Clotted Cream.
I ordered myself one pronto – only £1.50 to take away – and galloped out into the car park, thrilled at having finally found my Jersey Holy Grail.
And you know what? It was lovely.
Once again, the garden centre posse had really come up trumps.
My Scone was soft and fresh – and the Black Butter went so well with it, I was baffled all the more that most other tea rooms had not followed suit.
Imagine Christmas in jam form: cosy, zingy, spiced and warming. Then slather it all with a layer of rich Clotted Cream, to mellow the whole thing out. Superb.
There was room to be superber, mind. One half of the Scone was spread with normal Butter – I’d have much preferred Clotted Cream there instead (why sully a Clotted Cream Scone with your average fare?).
I also have mixed feelings about using Fruit Scones with Jams or Preserves: it seems like too much sweetness to me.
Overall though, it was lovely and exciting. And, for the record, the Man completely disagreed about the Fruit Scone/Jam debacle.
Still, as he’s Sultana obsessed, I was quite ready to ignore him.
Until I saw he’d bought something tasty to share…
Seriously, what a coup this place turned out to be! Two excellent homemade Cakes in a single Jersey eatery!
I mean, I know it looks rather messy as Banoffee Pie goes – but in fairness it had been in a bicycle pannier for half an hour before it emerged.
Besides, it was AWESOME: a rich and buttery Biscuit base, lashings of sloppy Caramel, and Whipped Cream studded with Chocolate.
Good times, eh, Ogglers? A Black Butter Scone and a Banoffee Bonus.
You’d think we’d be full but our next stop was fresh, homemade doughnuts.
The hogging, it seemed, was now in full swing.