Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ashmolean Dining Room, Oxford

You might know that earlier this year I spent 10 weeks in the UK for work (well, there was a bit of holiday at the beginning!). It was my first time back after 5 years of being home, and it was lovely to see friends and family again (hello friends and family!). I thought for a change of pace I'd do a few posts about my travels to intersperse with the regular gardening/cooking routine.

I spent my last weekend before flying home with my brother-in-law and my soon to be world famous author sister-in-law and my nephews in Oxfordshire. It was glorious, sunny and hot and we had a lovely time. I took myself up to Oxford one day for a last look around and a trip to the Ashmolean. It has been completely renovated since we left, and it's just stunning. There's so much light, and I love the interior use of glass - the exhibits have great new displays and the interpretive info is extremely good too.

To top off the decadence of a hot sunny day in Oxford (it got to 30) I treated myself to lunch at the Ashmolean Dining Room, on the top floor of the museum. Fortunately there was a table just inside the door so I could look out on the roof terrace and the view, but still be in the shade, and enjoy the breeze.
Some lovely sourdough bread with olive oil and butter to enjoy with a glass of wine while I was waiting for my char-grilled octopus with rocket and parmesan salad to arrive. Delicious and tender, and just perfect for a summer day.
But it is the dessert that I remember with the most fondness. A to-die-for strawberry and vanilla custard tart. I would love to find a recipe to reproduce it - the custard in particular which almost had the consistency of whipped cream - gloopy but without the gelatin-y "stodginess" that this kind of custard can have. Flecked with vanilla bean, it was the perfect foil for the strawberries. The pastry was light and almost flaky. I'm almost drooling just remembering how tasty it was!

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