Afternoon Tea? Why, of course….!

A while ago I went to New York for work, and I happened upon several of those very competitive American chaps.  You know, the ones that ask to meet you at 6.00 a.m. for breakfast or coffee, and to talk business.  After a couple of meetings at ridiculously early hours I took to telling them I was already rather busy at that time, but I would happily meet them for afternoon tea.  That confounded quite a few of them, although each of them was bemused enough to accept my invitation, and it did make for some much more constructive and less competitive business, and at a more civilised hour.
I hope that my little intervention had some small effect in bringing to the attention of our transatlantic cousins how civilised a good afternoon tea could be.  However, nothing I ever exposed them to could in any way compete with the sumptuous and extraordinary afternoon tea provided by The Duke of Richmond Hotel in Guernsey.
I promise you that I am generally reticent and gentle with superlatives (something else with which I was trying to help our American friends), so the use of words like ‘amazing’ or ‘extraordinary’ do not roll off my tongue very easily.  I have taken afternoon tea with the best of them.  I’ve supped from a china cup at Raffles in Singapore, slurped Darjeeling at The Ritz in London, and gulped warming builders’ tea on the bridge of a ship in a storm.  I have never experienced better than at The Duke of Richmond Hotel in Guernsey on a beautiful day in the summer of 2017.  The very special way in which it is presented, and the myriad ways in which they make the effort to make it different, combine to offer a truly British culinary experience, but with tea from India, of course!
I was hugely impressed with the fact that having called beforehand to ask if they could do a vegetarian afternoon tea for my dining companion, the resultant sandwiches were delightful.  That exemplifies just how attentive and helpful the staff were.  Faultless service, but warm and welcoming – just like a good cup of tea really.
Amongst other things I had been told to look out for the most unusual chicken sandwich, cut into interesting shapes and with the edges rolled in crushed nuts.  It tickled my palate like no other sandwich for many a year.  The scones were still warm from the oven, and came with a generous helpings of thick Guernsey cream, and the best Guernsey butter, of course.  The difficult choice was to a have plain scone or one with fruit, so I had one of each!
I have to be honest – I do get a tad jaded.  Going out to restaurants to check out their latest offerings is really great fun, and I am gaining weight at an alarming rate, but on most occasions we taste the food, film it and photograph it, and we set off on our way.  On this occasion the magic of afternoon tea beckoned and we scoffed the lot.  There was barley a crumb left, and the whole experience was just fabulous, although I was a tad wounded by the volume of it all.  A little confession here – we did actually crack a rather nice bottle of Lanson bubbly, just to wash down the scones, sandwiches, cakes and macaroons, of course, and we did stay longer than planned, but I don’t recall why….
Whether it’s a hot summer afternoon on the Duke of Richmond’s terrace, or a warm and cosy afternoon by an open fire, afternoon tea at The Duke of Richmond takes some beating.  In fact, get a room afterwards and stay over for their amazing breakfast.  They’ve invited us to try brunch sometime, but we’re resting up before we take that on….!
Eat well

The Captains Hotel

Many of you will know that I’ve been vegetarian for all of my life, mainly because my family brought me up that way, but with this journey of discovery I’m on, of all-things-foodie, I’ve begun to try meat and fish.  And so it was that I was invited to The Captains in St Martin to try their renown tiger prawns and scallops.  It was a very worthwhile journey.  A really important thing for me is the texture of food, as well as the taste, and I was somewhat apprehensive about the scallops, but I didn’t need to be.  Like all good food, the way they are cooked, and what they’re combined with served to quickly dispel any fears I had.  I’m a scallop junkie now.

Ali de la Mare is a real hands-on proprietor, and her personality shows through in all aspects of her hotel – in the menu, the decor, the warmth of the service, and the transformation of the new upstairs bar and lounge – Ali has put her own personal stamp on it all, and she knows what she’s doing.

Of course, they have something to delight the vegetarian pallet as well, and Ali tells us some of her regular visitors from the UK are very keen each year to see what she has on offer.

Ali’s son George has his own fishing boat, so when local restaurants talk of fish being fresh from the line onto the plate The Captains really does have a legitimate claim to being close to the front of the queue, as George almost exclusively supplies his mum.  Actually, it’s a lovely story, and you can hear from George on the video interview we did with him.

I enjoyed it all.  The Captains holds few pretensions, and Ali says her menu is just a list of good, honest food.  There’s everything from some typical english meals to quite exotic fish or meat, and more than a fair share of comfort food, but the quality is excellent.  Ali’s down to earth stance on the hotel and restaurant business has made The Captains into a real gem in the hidden lanes of this corner of Guernsey, and well worth a visit.


Luxury, with your shoes kicked off…

The Bella Luce Hotel has a simple philosophy –  Luke Wheadon, Proprietor of the hotel, calls it ‘luxury with your shoes kicked off’. The elegance and style of this hotel was so striking, paired with the very friendly staff helping us to feel immediately welcome, making this a really special place.

Luke and his Executive Chef, Simon McKenzie, obviously have a passion for high quality food, taste and flavour. It was heartening to hear the respect Simon has for local produce, and how determined he was to make the best of every ingredient in his kitchen.

It is evident the Bella makes the most of the wonderful, local produce we have here in Guernsey, collecting ingredients fresh from sea, and using local growers to supply their vegetable table.  It is those fresh, organic ingredients that make a significant contribution to the high quality, and fascinating food served at The Bella.

Simon was kind enough to prepare us a delightful fish dish. It was a culmination of all the best summer ingredients, light and delicious. Just what we needed at this time of year.

By the way – I’ve always called it the Bella Luce (pron. loose) but I’m told it’s more properly called the Bella Luce (pron. Bella Loochay) which means beautiful light in Italian.  The famous bay where Renoir painted, and captured the extraordinarily beautiful light in some of his iconic paintings, is just five minutes walk away.

Eat well,


Where do you find a really great pizza…?

“You only have one chance to make a first impression”

Charlie Walker knows how to run a hotel, and she was quite right – “you only have one chance to make a first impression”.  It is rare to find a place where you immediately feel comfortable and welcome, but that is what Les Douvres does, really well.

From the moment I walked in every member of staff was smiling, all very friendly and eager to help, in any way possible.

But onto the juicy stuff… the food!  Now, I don’t know how to make this absolutely clear to you, but there are few things in this world I love more than the smell and taste of a really first class pizza, and let me tell you, Les Douvres know exactly how to make a good pizza.  They are very, very popular, and Charlie tells me their takeaway pizza orders are more than matching their in-house demand, such is the reputation of Les Douvres’ speciality.

The pizza was completely hand made, right from scratch, with their own special blend of cheeses, and using lots of locally grown toppings.  It’s the kind of food you just keep eating and… that’s exactly what I did!

The hotel is a delightful blend of contemporary bedrooms, but with traditional Guernsey decor in public areas, set in the peaceful lanes of St. Martin, just a short stroll to Guernsey’s magical south coast cliff walks.

Eat well,


Bit of a buzz at Lé Viaër Marchi!

Every year, just as the summer season is getting into full swing, the national Trust of Guernsey stages Lé Viaër Marchi (the old market) in Sausmarez Park, in the heart of Guernsey. It’s an occasion filled with some of Guernsey’s really old traditions, with people in traditional costume, and some good old-fashioned music.

Some of the most interesting traditions are on display in the food on offer at a vast array of stalls. There’s a wonderful community feel to the whole thing, and a lovely peaceful atmosphere.

This year we caught up with the Guernsey Beekeepers’ Association, and we were delighted to find that most of the problems affecting bee populations in many developed parts of the world have not come to Guernsey, and mainly because we don’t use all the pesticides and chemical farming found elsewhere. It was also fascinating to find out how little it costs to get into beekeeping, and how it can pay for itself quite quickly. All I know, is just how good the honey tasted!

Eat well,