It’s time to sharpen those elbows – do a bit of smash and grab. But here we're not talking Egyptian cotton sheets from John Lewis or reduced red-soled Louboutin shoes (well, given the chance...), but The Three Horseshoes’ January Sales menu.
The Three Horseshoes may look like a traditional rural pub nestling amongst the stately trees of the Madingley estate near Cambridge, but it's not. It is actually a restaurant and if you are not careful you may think you have walked through the wardrobe and transported yourself to the River Cafe. ...Ok, this may sound fanciful but the truth of the matter is that although our coffers are as bare as the winter branches, we are in need of a treat. We woke to lashing rain, darkness at 8 am and we may have won The Ashes, but that is as nothing to the deep depression that the death of The Archers’ Nigel Pargeter has plunged me into (yes, I know he is a ridiculous stereotype but I LOVED him!).
So here we are in the conservatory of The Three Horseshoes, two glasses of wine on the starched white tablecloth (remember, I said it wasn't a traditional pub) watching the biggest pheasant I have ever seen strut about the grounds in all his russet pomp. Things are looking better and better, freshly baked soda bread and foccaccia arrive to get us through the rigours of deciding what to eat. To start, I plump for Napoli and Milano Salami with Borlotti and Cavolo Bruschetta while T chooses Sheep's Milk Ricotta Dumplings with Sage Butter and Pecorino. Mother of God! Both are divine (we share, of course), the dumplings rich and creamy offset by the tang of ricotta and the crunch of a crisp sage leaf, while my salami
is paired with creamy borlotti crushed with
lemon and olive oil.
T follows with Pheasant and Soft Polenta in a rich jus and I have to quell 'Menu Envy'. My Hand-Rolled Penne with Smashed Squash, Ricotta and Pangrittato just doesn’t look as good, but as my mum says, ‘Looks aren’t everything.’ It tastes damn fine, the penne is tender in the way only hand made pasta can be, the squash full of good autumnal tastes and the whole dish saved from being too mono-textured by the crunch of the pangrittato (I swear I will be using the crusts of our soughdough bread to make this from now on…).
And because we are having a three-course set menu (a snip at £19 – did I mention the January sales?) we have to choose a pudding – yes HAVE to. My Pannacotta with Roast Purple Figs is as swoony as a Glen Miller number and although T’s Lemon Polenta cake appears a tad boring it is lifted by a sharp creme fraiche.
This is what I call sales shopping. Soothed and sated we feel nothing can go wrong now. The waitress comes over. ‘Are you the owners of the silver Citroen? Only someone’s just told us a red car has backed into it and driven away – it was quite a crunch apparently’. Ah the January Sales – smash and grab…