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A foodie break at Fishmore Hall, Ludlow, UK

Ludlow has for many decades been the Mecca for foodies in the UK and now it has another. Sitting just outside the town is the elegant Georgian house known as Fishmore Hall. This remarkable building has been lovingly restored and now operates as a 3 star boutique hotel and spa with fine dining. The 15 rooms are modern and very comfortable with all the comforts you would expect from a hotel nowadays. My friend and I did not have time to experience the spa facilities unfortunately on this occasion. The hotel offers both simpler bistro meals with a modern but traditional menu and the more elaborate eight course dinners in the Fornelles Restaurant which in Summer months enjoys wonderful views of the Shropshire countryside including the Malvern Hills and Clee Hill – both local beauty spots. I was fortunate enough to sample meals in both settings. The Bistro offered a number of interesting starters and I was tempted with many of them but decided to try the ham hock croquettes and piccalilli salad. The piccalilli was home made and did not overpower the croquettes – my only criticism would be that there was one too many as I quickly became full but could not do anything other than enjoy them all! The rib eye steak with tomato and field mushroom was cooked on the rare side of the blue that I had ordered but was very tender and flavoursome. The chips were to die for! My friend could not resist the warm peanut brownie with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream and declared it “delicious”. There is much to see and do in the area from National Trust properties to visit, quaint villages in which to appreciate old black and white architecture so typical of the area or bracing walks amongst stunning scenery with beautiful views. We opted to go to Hereford about 30 minutes drive away and spent much time in the Cathedral admiring both its history and the more modern touches which included the new SAS memorial window with its stunning design of stained glass – well worth a visit in its own right. The star point of interest in the Cathedral however is the mediaeval Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library exhibition. One of the books on display was from the 8th Century. The second evening at Fishmore Hall we dined in the conservatory of Forelles restaurant. There you have the option of choosing to eat from the three course A la Carte menu or the eight course tasting or eight course vegetarian tasting menu. Both the latter can be accompanied suggested wines that are appropriate with each course chosen by the talented Head Chef, Joe Gould. The tasting menus are to be enjoyed by the whole table. Most of the ingredients used in the kitchen are sourced from within a 30 mile radius of the hotel. Despite being omnivores we opted for the vegetarian tasting menu without the wine offered as their selections. We felt that 7 different wines would be too much for us. However we chose and enjoyed the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with all the courses. Before we started the menu we were offered three delightful amuse bouche – beetroot and wasabi tapioca, goats cheese pesto and wild rice in a filo cornet and ratatouille in choux pastry. Then came a selection of bread and butter – sourdough and onion along with plain butter and Marmite butter and also plain salt and paprika salt which added a definite piquancy. The first of eight courses was a wild mushroom with blue cheese, pickled walnut, beetroot and pea risotto. The second was a goats cheese brûlée served with red onion, parsley, cider, oats served with a walnut ice cream. It was pretty as a picture. Next came celeriac with apple, rosemary, pine nut, fennel and celery. For my taste and preference there was too much balance towards the apple. Following the celeriac came broccoli with pumpkin and blackberry but was in reality pumpkin served in three different styles. Tomato, mozarella, artichoke, fennel, carrot and pesto followed. Then came red pepper along with spiced aubergine, the increasingly fashionable quinoa, this time flavoured with saffron, marinated tomato, feta and broccoli. The dessert courses followed. Lemon crumble, meringue, honey, rosemary, gin and tonic. This was light and refreshing and cleared the palette beautifully. We waited for a while before the waiter brought our last course and it became evident why there was the pause as it was a pistachio soufflé with milk chocolate, strawberry, chai tea latte ice cream and a ginger aero (marshmallow). We declined the selection of British and French cheeses offered, the coffee and also the Pick and Mix – apparently a selection of sweeties – all offered as extras. It certainly was a dining experience and like all the tasting menus I have eaten before takes time to cook and serve – over three hours in our case despite the fact that there were four waiting-on staff but only three tables of two occupied and one table was enjoying the a la carte menu, not one of the tasting menus. We enjoyed our time at Fishmore Hall – it certainly deserves to be in an area renowned for its food. Disclosure: Our stay was courtesy of Fishmore Hall.

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  1. I’m very envious of you getting to see the Mappi Mundi at Hereford. I’ve never actually seen it.

    I’d love to see all the ornate colourful calligraphy in the flesh so to speak. I find it fascinating to see the Medieval perception of the world centred on Jerusalem. They had a different definition of a map illustrating it with biblical scenes.

    Luxury accommodation and fantastic food too. What more could a girl want?

    I need to investigate a long weekend in Ludlow!

  2. I struggle to understand why Ludlow became such a great centre for high quality food. I don’t want to upset any one but it is a quiet and relatively isolated town. Though no one is complaining. From the look of these pictures it is going to be attracting foodie pilgrims for sometime to come.

  3. Marmite butter? No, that’s just not on.

    Marmite probably has a place somewhere in the universe – but it’s not in butter in Ludlow.

    1. Marmite? You either love it or hate it.

      I love it.

      I’d go for an entire 5 course Marmite themed taster menu.

  4. So beetroot and wasabi tapioca leads the culinary charge with top billing …

    When – or why did Beetroot – get to be so famous?

    When I was a child beetroot, assassinated in an acid death of vinegar, was just about the worst offender on a plate of salad. Though it was hard pushed in the Rogues Gallery of Salad by Salad Cream.

    I got a hint of beetroot’s renaissance when Heston Blumenthal dished up a beetroot lollipop as a Petit Four.

    Good to see that the imaginative chef Joe Gould is continuing the beetroot revival in new ways.

  5. I agree the cathedral is stunning. I spent hours in there myself admiring all the intricate details of the stained glass windows. The Mappa Mundi is interesting to me too, plus all the old books in there. So much history! And just knowing these things existed 700 years ago is amazing. The fees are pretty reasonable.

  6. My good friend is a food blogger so I get to hop in sometimes and enjoy tasting different cuisines wherever she goes. The first time we visited the Fishmore Hall, I can say that one should never really miss this out even once in their life. Food is prepared in the most exquisite way and the taste truly did not compromise. I also tried the steak with tomato and field mushroom and I really loved it. A big thumbs up!

  7. Fishmore seems to be the ideal base for a short break to see some of the attractions. In particular I would like to see the stained glass SAS Memorial. It’s important that we keep these traditional skills and art forms alive. Also they are a very appropriate way to commemorate what are difficult national experiences. I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Falklands Memorial at Pangbourne College in Berkshire, so the SAS Memorial would match well with that.

  8. I have cousins still near Ludlow, and my father used to own a shop there many years ago. I’ve not been in probably 20 years so this has made me want to take a day trip soon and see how things have changed. I definitely wouldn’t say no to the steak and chips at the Bistro, though I’d maybe order up a degree to medium/well done to avoid getting it too rare. I think places do often have their own view of what constitutes blue, rare, medium etc, which can be rather different to what we have in mind when ordering. I used to live 20 to 25 minutes away from Hereford, and yet I never visited the Cathedral, so I will add that to my day trip list while in that area. Quite a lengthy visit you had all in all for the tasting menu, so that’s a good point to note for anyone visiting.

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