Last Tuesday Nick and I decided to take a wee trip south to stay a few days with family friend Joanne in her traditional English thatched roof cottage. As it turns out, there’s nothing like a little escape from the hustle and bustle of East London to a leafy, lush, foodie hotspot.
What should have been a fairly simple 2½-3 hour drive from London to Dorset turned into an extended mission meandering through traffic, GPS fails, unnecessary roadside café stop-overs, and a few wrong turns, but 5 hours after leaving London we found ourselves in Wareham – a beautiful and Medieval-esque town in the English countryside. It was worth the drive.
On Wednesday morning we woke up early enough to see the cows taking their morning stroll through the village streets on their way to be milked. Following in their footsteps (or hoof steps…Haha!), the three of us walked through the town following Piddle River to its source, Poole harbour.
Destination number two for the day – Pig on the Beach (http://www.thepighotel.com/on-the-beach/explore/) Joanne hadn’t stopped raving about Pig on the Beach flatbreads since we caught up, saying they’re the best she’s ever eaten – a pretty big call from someone who’s travelled as extensively as she has. Without further ado, the three of us tucked into our hired Ford Focus and drove about 45 minutes south to Studland. The weather had been a bit spooky, always threatening to dampen our jackets, but we struck it lucky and the afternoon sun shone. A bottle of rosé. Perfect. A flat bread each. Perfect. A homemade ice cream after and a walk in the vegetable and herb garden – delicious. What a treat, honestly. The photo here shows one of the Pig’s renowned flatbreads. The ingredients are simple, if anything, fairly minimal, but the combination of flavours and produce (all from their garden or else locally sourced) is inspiring. I chose the Pig’s coppa (a cured pork product), rocket, parmesan and nasturtium flatbread. It went down too easily. I could’ve eaten three, or even four … I don’t know, they were all so light! I suppose they’re a lot like pizza but with the thinnest crispiest crust ever. There’s absolutely zero room for doughy, stodgy crusts here. That’s why if left to my own devices I truly could have wolfed down four of them!
Travelling West from Wareham with Stonehenge in mind, we made a brief drive by Durdle Door (reminded me a bit of the Coromandel in New Zealand), Bridport, and Axminster, a small town in Devon. Nick and I shared a few small plates for lunch at the River Cottage Canteen and left bursting! (Although, we still had room for a garlic mushroom and goat’s cheese pie from the markets over the road…). https://www.rivercottage.net/canteens/axminster Maybe it’s the Italian in me, or maybe it’s because a salad this light and fresh is hard to go past on a summer afternoon, but my favourite dish at the Canteen was an Isle of Wight tomato and mozzarella salad with chives and pesto drizzle – the perfect match to the Canteen’s homemade ciabatta and a locally brewed cider. Hehe.
After a few days of non-stop feasting, dinner later that evening was minimal, just a few antipasto bits and bobs we’d picked up along the way to Wiltshire, our home for the evening. The following morning along the M25, we followed the rain back to London, back to Hackney Wick, back to a beer and pizza at the local.