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.
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.
“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.
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!