The more dedicated Ogglers among you might remember my trip to the Riverford Field Kitchen at the end of last year, when the Pud-Hog Blog was still in its infancy. Now that this blog has reached the grand old age of six [months], it’s probably time we went back.
This time, the reason for our visit wasn’t purely to stuff our faces, but to feast for the birthday of Ma Hog (Happy Bithday, Ma), who turned 25 yet again (ahem). Coincidentally, that’s also the age of the Riverford Farm, so plenty of reason to celebrate.
As you may recall from my earlier visit, the folks in the Field Kitchen put on quite a spread when it comes to pudding. And they don’t make it easy to choose.
Here’s what was on offer for Ma’s birthday last week:
You’ll have to excuse the slightly blurry photo – I was shaking with anticipation at the time – but believe me when I tell you there are ten puddings on that counter. TEN. Now, in theory, at that point of the meal – after copious amounts of organic vegetables and substantial dishes of savoury food – one bowl of dessert ought to be more than enough to satiate even the heartiest appetite.
Not for this Hog though. For I, like many other sweet-toothed noshers (possibly yourself included), have a genuinely separate Pudding Stomach which seems to operate quite independently of the rest of my digestive system, demanding nourishment even after a full-blown main meal. It’s a blessing. And a curse.
Anyway, I digress. Let’s talk about that counter full of treats. If my memory serves me well (and hasn’t been entirely blighted by excess sugar), they were, from front to back:
– Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding
– Lemon and Poppyseed Cake (I think?!)
– Frangipane (possibly of the Rhubarb variety)
– Baked Chocolate Mousse
– Lemon Tart
– Custard Tart
– Stewed Rhubarb
– Lemon Cheesecake
– Apple, Honey and Fig Cake
– Blackcurrant Pavlova
All organic, all seasonal, all served with either double cream or custard (or both). So tell me. How ON EARTH is a Pud-Hog to choose just ONE?!
Mercifully, unlike last time, most of the Hog family (including my unofficial godmothers) were in attendance, so there was chance to spread out our orders. Sensing an opportunity, I tried to coordinate a plan of attack, enabling us to get as much variety on the table as possible. As you will see, however, not everyone played ball. In fact, there were two repetitions: two custard tarts and two lemon cheesecakes (tut tut).
Eight filled bowls. Better than one, not quite as good as ten.
Admittedly, there was still plenty to snuffle through. We all swapped and tasted, and I went around the table with a wielded spoon. The custard tart: beautifully soft and light, like the filling of a crème brûlée. The lemon cheesecake: as awesome and zingy as before. The baked chocolate mousse: dark and bubbly. The blackcurrant meringue: perfectly sharp and sweet. The apple, honey and fig cake: moist chunks of fruit, slathered in vanilla custard. And – my perennial favourite – the sticky toffee pudding: as rich, smooth and gooey as you like.
Alas, nobody ordered the frangipane or the lemon tart, both of which I was seriously keen to try. But a trip to the counter of the Please-Sir-I-Want-Some-More variety went down like a lead balloon. ‘We don’t do seconds,’ said the server. ‘If we give you anything else, then everyone will want some.’
Then for GOD’S SAKE, MAN, I thought. Give them some! I’m a Pud-Hog. I have NEEDS.
It wouldn’t be so hard to swallow if it weren’t for my first trip to Riverford, about three years ago now. On that occasion, we gorged on mains, face-planted our desserts, and then – to our utter delight – were all invited back to the pudding counter for seconds.
Those were the days.
To be fair, I suppose it can’t be sustainable, filling your diners until they burst like Mr Creosote (my preferred – and most likely – ending, by the way). Besides, I did have a napkin full of Amazeballs to gnaw on.
And yet… and yet…
Aren’t two portions always better than one?