Monday, 29 August 2011


As a rule of thumb I like to patronise the locals... I live on Mill Road and all the small independent food shops are full of good local food (I boycott Tesco). However, on occasion T and I  dust off the motor and trundle out further afield, and with the news of a deli opening at the Gog Magog Farm Shop we head out on the highway. In ten minutes or so we find ourselves in a bucolic idyll where pretty black and white chickens, a collie and a turkey promenading like a Victorian matriarch, make up a very traditional farmyard scene.

Gog Magog Farm Shop has been on the scene for a while, but it seems to have come into its own recently with a nice cafe, shop with very decent meat and a knowledgeable butcher and now a brand new deli with, I have to say, some blindingly good-looking cheeses (from Neal's Yard). 
I have in mind to make another ill-advised sortie into the world of bacon curing and receive some fantastic tips and a few slices of their home-cured rashers. 
I came, I gawped, I bought some pork belly (and a bit of cheese). We shall return ....

Saturday, 27 August 2011


When it comes to Dim Sum, Charlie Chan, like their namesake Jackie, kick ass. OK this is Cambridge not Hong Kong and options are limited, but these are really good. Translucent thin crescents with a glimmer of prawn shining through, fluffy pork buns, chicken feet if you fancy it – oh and they also do a great hot and sour soup.

Go at lunchtime where, it seems, the entire Chinese population of Cambridge gathers, either in garrulous family groups or in silent couples, to demolish the skyscrapers of bamboo steamers  unceremoniously dumped in front of them.
 Charlie Chan don't serve dim sums in the evening so go for lunch and for a ridiculously small amount of money feed your face.
Charlie Chan, 14 Regent Street, Cambridge.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


I don't need no hamburgers
No take-away...
No bacon steak, no strawberry milkshake...
I'm sick of seeing signs to eat walking down these city streets -
Wild, go wild, go wild in the country
Where snakes in the grass are absolutely free

(Bow Wow Wow and Malcolm Mclaren)

Now that The Hole on the Wall has reopened, headed up by Masterchef finalist Alex Rushmer, there is even more reason to do this pretty circular walk from the village of Fulbourn.  The 10km can be strolled in two to two-and-a-half hours, but it takes us about six, with a very leisurely lunch thrown in half way round.You can find directions at the go4awalk website here.
It is a fairly gentle ramble, with clear pathways leading through some picturesque Cambridgeshire landscape.  The leafy outskirts of Fulbourn soon give way to broad fields and huge skies, which you follow through to the village of Little Wilbraham - and the pub.
The Hole in the Wall aspires to something finer than pub grub and, now open for a month or so, is beginning to hit its stride. Of our starters, the Mushrooms on Sourdough Toast is especially good; some of the other dishes lack a little finesse as yet.
The meal ends well: three of us share an exceptional desert, Victoria Plum Clafoutis with Strawberry Ice-cream, which is light, sweet with just the right tang of fruit.  With coffee come freshly made petit fours in an old cigarette tin; the marshmallow is almost impossibly delicate.
After lunch, the walk leads through a pleasing combination of wide open spaces, villages of thatched houses and cricket pitches, and wooded, sheltered lanes. There is also the chance to walk up onto Fleam Dyke, the Anglo Saxon earthwork barrier, to enjoy the view.
We return to Fulborn through the nature reserve.  And yes, we did see a snake in the grass....

Saturday, 20 August 2011


We all felt a twinge of guilt didn't we when, earlier this year, Fitzbillies closed down?  It was as if we had neglected an aged aunt who had become a little tedious and maybe just a bit careless of personal habits; oh yes we loved her, we just didn't want to go and visit ... and at the event of her inevitable demise we indulge in an orgy of grief and nostalgia. And so it was early this year when Fitzbillies closed their doors for, what we thought, was the last time. A Cambridge institution had fallen by the wayside, shunned and neglected - oh how we beat our breasts. How could this have happened?
But second chances do happen, Fitzbillies is back. I stroll along on the first day of opening to show my support, expecting to see a few tourists and curious locals, but soon realize I have walked into an event. The air prickles with excitement, queues stretch outside the door and the staff are breathless. 
It's early days yet so they are offering limited fare, but oh yes, the Chelsea Buns are as gooey and delicious as remembered and there are pretty fairy cakes perched on retro stands in the window.
The 90-year-old dowager has had a makeover. There is a clever mix of the old and the new with a contemporary seating area tiled in cool colours (Cambridge blue?); it will be a great venue for post-shopping and meeting friends. So go and get sticky and be grateful for second chances. 

Fitzbillies: 51-52 Trumpington St, Cambridge, CB2 1RG