Spring 2018 Update

After really quite a good, cold, dry winter, the first signs of spring are just trying to appear. The early flowers have done reasonably well. Snowdrops and crocuses were wonderful this year and the former are still going quite strong. The daffodils and primroses are late but starting to brighten up our gardens and woodland. I have seen a few early cowslips, but they are not really out yet. The next wild flower, the bluebells, won’t be too far away, although they don’t usually appear before St George’s Day, April 23rd, and then flower until the end of May. Their brilliant, shiny green leaves will soon be starting to poke through the surface and then you will know that winter really is over and spring well underway. A few hawthorn and hazel are already showing signs of breaking leaf in the hedgerows. Our mowers are still “hibernating”, but another few days of this reasonable weather will see them dusted off and giving our lawns their first cut of the year. Fingers crossed for a good, warm spring and a lovely hot summer! We’re due one.

Spring Tasting

Saturday 7th April 5.30 until 8.00 & Sunday 8th April 11.00 until 1.30.

Do put these dates in your diaries now! We’re not yet sure what we’ll be giving you to taste but it will be something designed to tickle your taste buds.

As usual, this will be held in our Tasting Room off the yard behind the shop building. It’s always a sociable occasion, so we hope that this appeals to you and that you will be able to spare the time to come on one or other of the above days. When the weather is dry and has been for a few weeks, do please feel free to park on the grass through the yard behind Trencherman’s. However, if it has not been dry, please do NOT park on the grass or you will get stuck!

Summer Tastings

Saturday 7th 5.30 to 8.00 & Sunday 8th July 11.00 to 1.30

We hope that not too many of you will be away on holiday and that you will be able to come on one or other of the days. Apart from the December wine tasting, this is our biggest tasting of the year.

Autumn Wine Tasting dinner at Trencherman’s

Friday 12th October

A date for your diaries. We haven’t decided where the wines will be from will be from, but it’s always a fun occasion, so please pencil it in your diaries. As soon as we have a firm idea we will let you know. If you would like to register your interest at this stage, please do! Prices will remain at £45 a head which includes a multi course gourmet dinner.

Wines from Trencherman’s

Much has changed here since the early days when we only sold the odd bottle of wine to put in a hamper. Now wine is an important, if not the most important, part of our business, as you can see from the amount of room it takes up in the shop. We must be one of the larger independent wine merchants in the area with around five hundred different wines and spirits from which to choose. We buy the majority of our wines direct from the producer, so you will find many wines here which you won’t find elsewhere and prices are very competitive. We sell a lot of magnums, which make wonderful presents or a terrific talking point at a dinner party. Winemakers always say that the wine in a magnum matures better than that in a normal sized bottle. So there’s another reason for trying a magnum!

We are more than happy to give advice on starting or stocking cellars or laying down wines; wines for parties or weddings; which wine to buy to go with a particular dish for a dinner party; wine as presents; Vintage Port for godsons and fine wines for special occasions. A major advantage of buying your wine from us is that you are nearly always able to buy a single bottle before committing yourself to a case purchase – and, of course, we have regular Tastings. If you find you don’t like what you have bought, we will exchange it for something else (full bottles only!). Wines can be purchased on sale or return for larger parties or weddings, as well as sparkling elder flower, and we can chill everything which needs cooling in our chillers, which saves fiddling about with buckets of ice. Glasses are loaned free of charge if you have bought the wine from us.

Many wines vary from vintage to vintage and so we are continually changing the range and variety of wines which we stock. There is something for everybody here, with a wide selection of wines from France in particular, but also from Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand and South America.

We are, of course, especially strong on French wines, with the southern Rhône being, as ever, a consistent performer. Bordeaux has had three good vintages in a row – a fantastic 2015 an even better 2016 with 2017 a small but good vintage too. Burgundy, on the other hand, has had several very poor vintages in a row due to frost and hail, and wines are in exceedingly short supply and pretty expensive. The Southern Rhone has had a succession of wonderful vintages and 2015 and 2016 were both very highly acclaimed. If you are strong-willed, it would be well worth putting a few cases of the 2016s back for future consumption. However, they are drinking beautifully now, so don’t feel you have to!

From Spain we have wines from Ochoa in Navarra and from Rioja Martinez Bujanda and Miguel Merino. These are really lovely wines and well worth trying if you have yet to do so. Our old favourite from Martinez Bujanda, Candidato, has always been and still is just the best value around. Martinez Bujanda also have extensive vineyards at Finca Antigua (nothing to do with the West Indies!) in La Mancha producing excellent quality, sensibly priced and very drinkable wines. Do look out for them!

We have a selection of fine clarets and vintage ports in our cellars if you need a special bottle or case of wine as a present, or even just for yourselves!

Trencherman’s Home-cooked Meals

These are ever popular and we are always amazed at how they fly out. Our apologies for the lack of choice after Christmas, but we were all but wiped out and have only just about got back on an even keel. We have a choice of about 10 meals at the moment and are making more each week. The latest ones to be made were Thai Green Pheasant Curry, a particularly good Game Casserole and Lamb Tajine.

A Feast of Game!

Game is not only very good for one, being free range and very low on fat, but it is increasingly plentiful. We have good stocks of most things, so clear a corner of your freezer and stock up at these bargain prices!

Pigeon Breasts

There have been lots of pigeons around and our pigeon shooters have been busy controlling them….so we have quite a few in stock! They’re easy to cook and quite delicious. Down from £6.95 to just £4.95 for 10 while stocks last.

Pheasant Breasts

The offer is a bit late appearing this year, but we have quite good stocks of Pheasant breasts at £2.95 a pack of 4, down from £4.95.

Pheasant Thighs

These have no sinews so are great for casseroling. Usually £3.95 per pack of 8, these are on offer for £2.95 per pack.


Down from £3.95 a bird to £2.95 a bird.


They were really plentiful this year and amazingly good value at only £4.50 a bird. Now they are just £3.95 each.


Our olives are renowned, especially the large green Gordal! Until Easter we will be reducing the price by 20%! Stock up now!

Canapé Cases

Another favourite. These come in packs of 64 and we will be reducing the price from £4.50 to £3.60 also until Easter. They last for ever, so they too are a good buy.

Dried Pastas

We have a really good new range of pastas. Spaghetti, Linguine, Tagliatelle Nests, Tagliatelle, Orzo (rice shaped), Tonnarelli al nero di sepia (black squid ink pasta), Cannelloni, Gargarnelli, and Lasagne. 20% discount off all our pastas until the end of April – so stock up now!

Summer Tastings

Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th July

Saturday from 5.30 to 8.00, Sunday from 11.00 to 1.30.

We hope that not too many of you will be away on holiday and that you will be able to come on one or other of the days. Apart from the December wine tasting, this is our biggest tasting of the year.

Spring Tasting

Saturday 7th April 5.30 until 8.00 &  Sunday 8th April 11.00 until 1.30.

As usual, this will be held in our Tasting Room off the yard behind the shop building. It’s always a sociable occasion, so we hope that this appeals to you and that you will be able to spare the time to come on one or other of the above days. When the weather is dry and has been for a few weeks, do please feel free to park on the grass through the yard behind Trencherman’s. However, if it has not been dry, please do NOT park on the grass or you will get stuck!

Bocca di Lupo

Archer Street W1B 7BB
0207 734 2223

If you like top quality Italian food and lots of atmosphere, look no further than Bocca di Lupo.

Tucked away down a small street in theatre land a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus, it is perfectly placed for an early pre-theatre supper. We went there at lunchtime and had a superb meal. There is a long marble bar, at which one can sit on high stools, on the other side of which are four chefs beavering away preparing the food in the open kitchen.

Bocca di Lupo offers Italian-style tapas – small dishes of delicious food, cooked in front of your eyes if you sit at “the bar”. It does, of course, have lots of tables too if you don’t fancy sitting on a stool for an hour and a half! We had a selection of deep-fried sage leaves filled with anchovies in a light batter; sea-bream carpaccio with orange and rosemary, Arancini – balls of rice with saffron, bone marrow and gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, parsley and anchovy) deep fried; flash fried squid rings; mussels a la plancha with spicy chilli and herb butter; and as a token gesture towards vegetables, melt in the mouth roasted slices of pumpkin with sage, parmesan and balsamic vinegar, which was especially scrummy! We drank some good Primitivo and finished with great coffee. Staff were especially nice and friendly.

Highly recommended.

If you want to make your mouth water, have a look at their menu here.

The Cinnamon Club

32 Great Smith Street, Westminster
0207 222 2555

Great Smith Street is tucked away in a quiet street not far from Westminster Abbey. If you are on foot, you’ll need to keep your eyes open for it, as there is little to show from the outside that there is a top class restaurant inside. Once you step inside, it feels a bit more like a club than a restaurant. It is housed in the former Westminster Library, high ceilinged and still with books on the shelves around the walls. It’s well worth looking at the pictures on their website, as it is very different.

We were greeted and shown to our table by friendly staff, impeccably turned out. The lunch menu was £24 for 2 courses, £26 for 3. We started with two superb dishes – Tandoori chicken breast with mace and cardamom and a smoked paprika Raita; and Fenugreek scented Tandoori cod with curry leaf and lime crumble. (I didn’t mention that this is one of Vivek Singh’s restaurants and that he is the king of subtle Indian spicing.) Both dishes were absolutely stunning. We continued with a pan-fried duck breast with coconut vinegar sauce and pilau rice; and green spiced plaice fillet with Maharashtrian koshimbir salad and curried yoghurt. These were very good, though maybe not quite as wonderful as the first course.

Desserts in Indian restaurants are usually pretty awful, but our two desserts here were excellent. A mango and passion fruit cheesecake with mango sorbet, oats and honey crumble; and a White chocolate and pink peppercorn cake with thandai lemon sorbet.

It was a superb meal.




Oakfield Place, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2BJ
Tel: 0117 9339530

Lido is an unusual restaurant in that it surrounds a large outdoor swimming pool. So while you are eating you can watch people thundering (or wallowing!) up and down the pool. It is bright and airy and the food is delicious. We went there for a wine tasting with dinner. This is what we ate, lots of small dishes tapas-style.

Wood-roasted scallops in the shell with melted butter and fresh dill
Tempura Oysters with hot chilli relish
Cecina Spanish air-dried smoked beef
Roasted salmon steaks on a bed of mixed fresh herbs and leaves
Cold rare roast lamb with a sweet potato ratatouille
Selection of homemade ice creams – Chocolate, Strawberry, Passion fruit, salted caramel, boozy rum and raisin, coffee

Good coffee. Friendly, helpful, efficient service. Thoroughly recommend it.

The Canal Turn

Lancaster Road, Carnforth LA5 9EA 01524 720546

If you are going up the M6 at the right time of day, take the exit to Morecambe Bay and the A6 following signs to Carnforth. Look for a sign on the left, and a side road up to the car park. I came upon this lovely pub quite by chance, and didn’t even know it was on the Lancaster canal.

The pub is right by the water, with a small terrace and a dozen tables outside, one of which I was lucky to bag in full sunshine. As the name implies, it is on a broad bend of the canal with narrow boats moored, and quite a few going back and forth.

The pub has recently been entirely refurbished, with plenty of tables inside, and has quite an extensive menu (see their website): I saw others eating beautifully presented fish and chips and platters of cured meats. Service was very slow, so I went to the bar to order the Morecambe Bay shrimp that I had been looking for: they were on the menu, both hot and cold, and were delicious. But when you are sitting in the sun watching boats go by, slow service seems less important! So much better than a motorway service station!

Food is not served on Mondays, but from 12 until 4 Tuesday to Saturday light lunches are served, with things like sandwiches, platters, jacket potatoes and light bites.

Confited Pheasant Thighs

Not only is this quite delicious, but it is a really easy recipe and the end result is some of the most tender and tasty pheasant you’ve ever eaten. By using just the thighs, one avoids all the sinews which are in the lower part of the legs.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 2 packs of Pheasant Thighs (16 thighs);
  • 2 tins Duck or Goose fat
  • Coarse Salt,
  • Fresh or dried Thyme.


  • Place the Pheasant thighs in a dish, covering liberally with salt and thyme. You can put them in layers if need be.
  • Cover with cling film and leave overnight or for at least 7 or 8 hours.
  • Shake off the loose salt and thyme before placing in an oven dish.
  • Cover with the duck or goose fat.
  • Cook on a very low heat for 2 to 3 hours, turning once or twice to make sure the joints are covered in fat at all times.
  • Remove from the fat and dry on kitchen paper.
  • Serve on a mixed salad of soft leaves with some crusty bread

Marinated Pheasant breasts on a bed of vegetables, with brandy and cream

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 4 Pheasant Breasts;
  • 100g diced streaky bacon;
  • 1 medium onion diced fine;
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped;
  • 1 medium carrot sliced thinly;
  • 2 small leeks chopped;
  • 2 crushed cloves garlic;
  • 50g sliced mushrooms;
  • 1 glass brandy;
  • freshly ground black pepper, salt to taste
  • ½ pint double cream.

For the Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoon runny honey;
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce;
  • 2 tablespoons Sesame Oil;
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme.


  • Marinate the pheasant breasts for an hour in the above marinade, turning at half time. This will make them moist and tender.
  • Fry the bacon, onion, celery, carrot and garlic in an ovenproof casserole with a lid, until the vegetables are translucent but not brown.
  • Fry the mushrooms in a little butter for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add to the casserole.
  • Using the same frying pan, flash fry the pheasant breasts (which you have removed from the marinade, dried and dusted in flour) in a couple of tablespoons of good Olive oil, until just turning golden. Put them in the casserole on top of the vegetables.
  • Cover and cook in a medium oven for 25 minutes, adding the brandy 10 minutes before the end and the cream 5 minutes before serving. You can omit the cream if you wish, it does make the dish wonderfully rich!

Le Manoir au Quat’ Saisons

Near Oxford

A few weeks ago we spoilt ourselves and visited Raymond Blanc’s famous hotel and restaurant near Oxford. One does have to be prepared for quite a high bill here, but it is a very special place and we thought worth every penny (pound?!). Sadly it was pouring with rain from start to finish, so we were unable to visit the renowned 27 acres of garden. Another time? No sooner had we arrived in the car park than a friendly member of staff arrived with umbrellas. Once in the hotel, we felt immediately at ease and not at all “threatened” as can happen in some Michelin starred establishments. We were shown into the comfortable bar area and sank into a deep, very comfortable sofa in front of a flickering fire. We perused the menu whilst sipping our drinks and eating canapés. Unlike most people who eat there, we decided against the Tasting menus – they just didn’t appeal to us, whereas several things on the main menu did! Maybe a quarter of an hour after we had chosen, we were shown to a table in the conservatory dining-room. It is a high-roofed room with the tables nicely apart from each other so you couldn’t hear or be heard by your neighbour. Immaculately set tables with great flower decorations everywhere in the room.

As a mise en bouche we were given a shot of cauliflower soup, slightly curried, with a strip of poppadum and a seared scallop with a smear of curried sauce. All very delicate and appetising. Home-baked bread rolls accompanied the meal and were outstandingly good. My mashed potato and beer roll was amazing and I had two!

For starters we chose a fresh crab salad with grapefruit, mango and red pepper and seared langoustines on a confited leek, with pink pickled onions and truffle shavings. Both were well presented and delicious.

Main courses were, for Ethne, slices of monkfish, with poached mussels and a divine lemony, herby, buttery Gewurztraminer sauce. This was definitely the dish of the meal and the sauce was out of this world. I had roasted veal kidneys with wild garlic, lovage and a red wine jus. I felt there should have been a bit more of the jus as calves kidneys are a bit “dense”. This is a comment and not a criticism.

For desserts we had a very fine apple tart with honey and ginger ice-cream. This was stunning! And, as they called it, “our millionaire shortbread” which was a thing of great beauty and amazing taste. Soft toffee with layers of bitter chocolate on a crumbly shortbread with salted butter ice-cream.

Service was impeccable throughout and our main two waiters were Florence and Jean-Baptiste who were thoroughly charming, relaxed and friendly.

It was a great experience and we didn’t begrudge the bill one bit.

A couple of points of interest when considering the price. They have 210 staff there and 42 people in their kitchens! So it’s hardly surprising they have to charge a lot.

The Manoir au Quat’ Saisons, Church Rd, Great Milton, Oxford OX44 7PD
Tel: 01844 278881