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Sunday, 25 March 2012

40 B4 40-The Marine (& Mr Pink's)

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No. 5: Bit of strange week really. My wife had spent a couple of days away working, during which she had stayed and dined at The Bell Inn in Sandwich, Kent. A debate ensued as to whether this should qualify for our 40 B4 40 Challenge, I maintained that our challenge should only include restaurants when we dine together, she insisted she much prefers dining alone.  Apparently, it is a lot less stressful and much more fun.  A good point, but not in the spirit of the challenge.

A glorious weekend at the end of March made Milford on Sea an even more special place to be than normal. Saturday evening involved a trip to Mr Pink’s Fish & Chip Shop. It was one of those nights when fish and chips was the perfect choice for dinner. The freshly cooked haddock had a delicious flavour and was ensconced in a tasty crispy batter. The chips were piping hot, crunchy on the outside and soft white on the inside, just as they should be. The addition of salt, vinegar, bread roll and a pickled onion really made this a perfect meal for a sunny evening by the seaside.

Naturally we then spent another few hours debating my argument that the meal should be included in our dining challenge. My wife won the debate when she put me down with a hard kick in the groin.

A weird start to Sunday morning was made a little weirder when I had to deal with the clocks going forward. Fortunately my wife’s organisational skills kicked in to prevent Nick Girdler sitting in his radio studio alone. As she woke me gently with a rabbit punch in the kidneys, I jumped out of bed and hurriedly showered and dressed, as I was doing this my wife explained to me that my abilities in living in the real world were somewhat lacking. My request for her to prepare my make up for my media appearance were met by the looks of complete disdain only her mother could have taught her.

I made the BBC Solent Radio studios in time, and was soon on air plugging the delights of Milford on Sea and our fabulous Food Week. Next, it was time to review stories from the Sunday papers, I had picked stories on Prince Harry’s newly found maturity, the budget smallprint adding VAT to takeaway food, and a bit of a rant about the architectural carbuncles caused by government interest free loans for house cladding, together with an impromptu moan about how solar panels are a blot on the aesthetic environment. My wife’s stern warnings had worked, and I did not swear, or get into an inane rage. It looks like next Tuesday's radio interview is still on.

On the drive back, I was unable to navigate through Lyndhurst, as my car was involuntarily drawn to the Local Producers Farmers Market.  As I was alone, I gave in, parked, and made my way straight to the cake stall.  A few minutes later, I was the proud and drooling owner of an unusual Bakewell tart cake and a scrumpious Chocolate sponge cake.  I then remembered that I had to explain how I got them when I returned home.  To eat them before getting to the door was a bridge to far even for me.  Back home, my cover story of how it was traditional to give radio guests a cake or two fell on deaf ears and a stoney face.  The lecture on why I didn't need them, was far outweighed by my delight that I was going to enjoy them all week!

It was soon time to make a decision about where to go for Sunday lunch. The glorious weather swung it for The Marine, just down the road on Milford on Sea seafront. As you might expect on calling to make a reservation, the restaurant was fully booked, but we were offered, and accepted, an outside table on the balcony. The first pint of San Miguel went down so well, as we sat and took in the fabulous views to The Needles, along Hurst Spit and across Christchurch Bay to the Purbeck Hills. Having dined on the Côte d'Azur, the Venice Waterways, alongside The Thames and on the QE2 to name but a few, it is easy to say that the location of this grand Art Deco building is just as spectacular on a warm sunny day. The complimentary home-made brown and white bread with fresh butter sprinkled with salt was a great way to get the tastebuds going. My wife’s starter was Crab and prawn cocktail with crusty bread. Her silly grin showed she had enjoyed it. I had chosen a Grilled rosary goats cheese crostini with pear, walnut and honey salad. For once the green leaves on the plate had a purpose other than just getting in the way of the real food.  The combination of goats cheese, chopped walnuts and a delicious salad dressing created a taste and texture that was a delight.

The main courses arrived, and if you love a roast dinner, the plates were just how you would want a roast dinner to look.  My Roast chicken has loads of meat, the bread sauce was tasty, the roast vegetables as good as vegetables can be, the roast potatoes were crispy & fluffy and the gravy dark, rich and plentiful. My wife’s Roast sirloin of local beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and gravy was just as appetising.

My wife's Yorkshire pudding looked so good.  I decided to point out a sinking yacht to her.  As she scowered the seas, I moved like a ninja, and in one fell swoop I took the Yorkshire straight to my mouth and devoured it as quickly as possible.

A few minutes later, my wife noticed her now non-existent Yorkshire pudding. Her first reaction was to blame it on me, but in turn I pointed out the ravenous looking seagulls. I don’t think she believed me, but ‘He who has the Yorkshire’ is the winner. When it was time for sweet my wife of course refused, with one eye on her figure, and the other on the remaining wine. I went for the traditional favourite, Rhubarb and apple crumble with custard. I was not disappointed.

Our Sunday lunch was good value at £17.50 for two courses, or £22.50 for three. Our drinks and wine bumped this up a bit, but it was worth every penny. It is not every day that you can sit and enjoy a fine meal, whilst looking at one of the most picturesque views in the world.


If you are wondering what the 40 B4 40 Dining Challenge is all about, please click here and all will be explained.

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