Thursday, April 14, 2011

England, part II

Friday in England started very slowly, as I didn't wake up until puppy Stella 'greeted' the postman around 10:30am.  I stumbled downstairs and found Em in the kitchen, busily making cookies!  From scratch!  Yes ladies and gentlemen, she's that type.  And they were delicious!  Apparently chocolate chips are hard to come by in England, and thanks to a tip from a little birdie, I threw 2 bags in my suitcase.  She was so excited that she had to bake right away.  After a few hours of (instant) coffee, cookie eating, and chatting, we managed to get ourselves together and out the door.  We drove about 30 minutes down some narrow, winding, cars on the wrong other side of the street roads towards a quiet little English medieval village, Lavenham. According to Wikipedia, "in the medieval period it was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England."

It was a beautiful little town.  We walked, shopped, walked, and shopped.  We popped into several little gift shops, art galleries and small antique stores.  The things in the antique stores were VERY old, from the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries in some cases.  It was really amazing.

The leaning and crooked houses were just unbelievable. Every other one was more crooked than the last. 

The 3rd door down is a little shop and cafe called Sweet Meats.  Around 3pm we decided that we were starving and needed a little break.  Emily had a scone and tea and I had a yummy cappuccino and these amazing warm ham and cheese croissants.   

This is the Swan Hotel - it is a 15th century inn, which today is a 4 start hotel.  Many British people travel to Lavenham for a weekend getaway.  

The massive Church of St. Peter and St. Paul welcomes visitors as they pull into the town.  They think it was completed around 1530.

Also, in 2010, under much secrecy, several scenes from the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were filmed in Lavenham.  

After all of our exploring, we headed back to Emily's house to pick up her husband.  We had reservations at her favorite restaurant in Coggeshall.  Coggeshall is a small market town about 15 minutes away from where they live.  We stopped at a cute, traditional pub for a few drinks before walking across the street to Baumann's Brassiere

Fantastic.  That's the only way to describe this place.  It was just fantastic.  The wine was great, food delicious, and staff very nice and attentive.  I started with the smoked venison with hazelnuts, pears and cherry vinaigrette.  It was so good.  We also had some delicious bread with their dipping oil.  Then I had one of the specials, the halibut.  It was as good as the venison, and very light.  After the meal we had  the ginger biscuit rhubarb & custard cheesecake as well as their cheese platter.  Then...somehow...D managed to talk to the servers and managers and get us a tour of the kitchen.  Somehow.  So we went.  D and I headed into the kitchen, with the manager leading the way.  Unfortunately, Master Chef Mark Baumann was not in town, but Executive Chef Chris Pritchard was there and very gracious.  He talked to us about their service, dishes, staff, and more.  He was so nice and open, it was great to meet him and have a tour.  The kitchen was tiny, and more personal than most commercial kitchens.  It was such a fantastic evening.  

And that was just our first full day!  So much more to talk about!

Em, if I miss anything - please add to the post!!

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