Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Pie and peas on sea (and some ice cream)

For those last weekend who had the (mis)fortune of being in Weymouth, you may have seen - and it was certainly pretty hard to miss - Cher and her band of merry sailors. Led by the curly haired Goddess of Pop, we took to the streets in an attempt to remake 1989's soft rock classic Turn Back Time . Just a standard Saturday, really.

For those who weren't so lucky to catch us, it was a sight to behold. I'll spare you the gory details - what happens upon the HMS mobility scooter stays upon the HMS mobility scooter - but even the salty sea dogs of Wyke Regis learnt a few things that night.

But first the seamen needed ballast, and what better than a good old pie and a pint at the Handmade Pie and Ale House, a renovated pub on West Street selling exactly what it says on the tin.

We had already got stuck into the Jagermeister jelly shots so a pint of very quaffable Charles Well's Try Time - a beer brewed to celebrate (although there wasn't much to celebrate later that evening) the rugby world cup - was a welcome relief. If you order a pie from the set menu, between 12-5pm each day, you also get a free drink with your dinner.

I had the steak and stilton - rather menacingly marked with an 'ss' on top - served with mash and garden peas (pipe, model's own). This was a nigh on perfect pie; double crust, shortcrust pastry (infinitely superior to puff); generously filled with tender beef and a good cheese to meat ratio. Mash was decent, peas buttered and there were lashings of extra gravy (rather gloopy and from a packet, but it lubricated things well enough).

The Ewing chose the GKC pie, filled with chicken, wild mushrooms and garlic and served with a 'We Want Plates' combo of a mini colander full of peas and mini fryer full of chips. Presentation quibbles aside - you can easily decant the accouterments onto the plate, although the rectangular shape makes eating a bit tricky - this was another exemplary pastry product. 

Again, they didn't skimp on the filling, with the decent wack of garlic being particularly welcomed by my wife; less so by anyone else that came into contact with her the following day. I'm also glad I wasn't around fellow dining companion, the Doctor, the following morning, after he chose the breakfast pie -stuffed with sausage, bacon and baked beans - alongside a side of extra beans. 

Probably the first and last time you'll see Cher and her sea captain brandishing plates of pies. In a nice touch the kitchen also personalised the pies with happy birthday messages and even bought a colander of broccoli for the pea and bean-avoiding Cher. Distinguished service crosses all round for the food and the staff who put up with our antics with a healthy mix of good grace and bemusement.

While the pies all went down with no complaints, Cousin Eamonn wasn't such a big fan of the chicken wings; memorably describing them as 'too chicken like'. The stripped piles of bones on everyone else's plates suggested the sentiment wasn't a shared one.

One thing that certainly couldn't be described as chicken (see what I did there) was aunty Pat, seen here an action shot with first mate Winston on board, cruising the streets on her battleship. Add in a crushing sporting defeat; a bride drunk on blue WKD; potential incest on a pool table, concussion in The Closet and a melting drag queen and you've got a pretty standard Saturday night out.

While the following morning dawned clear and bright for some, most of us, unsurprisingly, felt decidedly foggy and grey around the edges. Still, it was nothing industrial strength tea and bacon sarnies couldn't cure and we were soon out enjoying the sunshine with a stroll along the Esplanade.

For ice cream in Weymouth read Rossis, who have had an ice cream parlour on the Esplanade since 1937. To say I was excited about a restorative frozen treat (that karaoke is hard on the throat) by the sea was an understatement. It was also not an understatement to say that upon reaching Rossis - after trudging across the huge expanse of hot sandy beach, it’s art deco sign winking at me like a beacon in the sun - only to find the door firmly shut, made me feel somewhat like Lawrence of Arabia chasing the mirage in the desert.

So onto plan B; Boho Gelato, of Brighton fame, who we first visited at their original location and have just opened in a second spot by Weymouth Harbour. The shop, in contrast to Rossi's art deco curves, is like stepping into the future, with clear cylinders holding today's flavours suspended in the stainless steel and glass counter.

I chose a base of salted caramel ice cream topped with white chocolate and passion fruit ripple, modelled here on the harbour bridge. Both were excellent. the caramel swirl that mined through the former had a salty smokiness while the tropical passion fruit cut through the richness of the white chocolate.

The sorbets were also fantastic, with their eye popping colours and flavours including alphonso mango and raspberry with elderflower. The Ewing sampling the peanut and caramel sorbet alongside a tart and bright sour cherry version.

As is always the way, the minute the Ewing and I parted, she with all the money, and she had made it out of earshot, I noticed that Rossi’s was now open. Cue my most athletic moment of the whole weekend (or possibly on par with the previous night’s dancing to Wham!) as I hurtled down to the shore, risking wet toes and sand-filled shoes for some change for my cone.

In contrast to Boho Rossis had one flavour on offer; natural (although it seems they can offer up to three at a time, including more outre sounding choices such as coconut, forest fruits and cookie dough) which actually came as a welcome relief from the relentless choices faced in this modern world. I ordered my 99, the seaside classic, before hot footing it across the road and to the beach just before the drips started. (not towards me I noticed- TE)

While, especially in contast to Boho’s fancy colours and swirls, it may not have looked terribly exciting, the ice cream was exemplary. Light and smooth like a whippy, but with a sweet, and soothing milky-ness. The kind of ice cream I imagine the Famous Five eating, sliced into blocks and held between rectangular wafers, when on their way to solve a mystery.

And then finally - hangovers abating and ice cream cravings satisfied - we were left trudging slowly over wet sand; just as Morrissey might have sung about in a late 80s classic. For once I wish everyday was like Sunday.

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