My husband doesn't just have a sweet tooth, he has just about a mouth full of sweet teeth, so for an early Valentine's gift I took him to the Pudding Club which is tucked away in Mickleton, a village in north Gloucestershire.
First we had to dig the car out:
We went via the house of some friends, which broke the trip up nicely, then drove across to the hotel in the evening. We were given a glass of elderflower cordial when we arrived, and then we were introduced to the seven puddings we would get to sample later:
- Sussex Pond
- Figgy Pudding
- Sticky Toffee & Date
- Rhubarb Crumble
- Oriental Ginger
- Tutti Frutti
- Jam Roly Poly
But first, we got a small main course - the veggie option was leek & pepper risotto, which was absolutely divine. There were loads of vegetables & potatoes on the table, but we were advised to use some restraint which, I think, was very good advice.
The Pudding Club works on a buffet system, where you go up table by table and can pick which pudding you'd like to have each time, reusing the same bowl. I decided I was going to save the oriental ginger until last, because that sounded best and I thought I might struggle to eat a seventh portion if I wasn't excited about it!
I started off with the sussex pond because I wasn't sure if I've ever had that before. It's made with whole lemons, and my first couple of mouthfuls were very lemony, but then the rest was very plain and quite oily. But the lemon taste was nice enough that I might have a go at making it myself one day.
Next I went for the tutti frutti because it had sounded the least exciting when it was described to us, basically a sponge pudding with lots of dried fruit - candied peel, apricots, sultanas, etc... I wasn't expecting to be especially impressed by this but I was, it was a very light sponge and a fantastic mixture of fruits. Unfortunately the photo doesn't really do it justice, you can't see all the yummy fruit through the custard:
Then came the jam roly poly. The chef had made some jam sauce for extra jamminess but I think that was a mistake - I ended up with a couple of mouthfuls of pure jam at the end. It also didn't help that, due to the buffet nature of the evening, it had gone nearly cold.
Next up, following a new strategy of 'go for the one that's fresh out of the kitchen' to minimize cold puds, was the figgy pudding. I had always wondered, given the lyrics to 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas', whether this was another term for Christmas pudding but it's actually a fairly light pudding full of figs. Apparently it was the first night they'd had this one on the Pudding Club menu.
Next was rhubarb crumble. Now, I love crumbles and I love rhubarb, so this could hardly have failed to be a winner - but it still failed to knock the tutti frutti off the top spot on my list. Probably the least rich of the lot, and not too much sugar in the rhubarb.
Then it was time for sticky toffee & date, which apparently is a big hit with Gary Rhodes. I can see why - it was very, very tasty but not too heavy.
Finally, the oriental ginger which I'd been waiting for. This actually had a similar problem to the sussex pond, in that it had a lot of ginger on top, but on a pudding of this size you really need to be able to taste the flavour throughout and you just couldn't. It was also a little bit greasy (a recurring theme of the evening) and my body just rebelled - I couldn't finish it. Thankfully my husband is more robust, and polished it off for me.
I'd hoped to fit another portion of my favourite at the end, but I reached the stage where I couldn't physically swallow another mouthful of pudding, so I had coffee instead.
There was a vote at the end for the top pudding of the night - my favourite was still the tutti frutti, and enough other people agreed with me that I was on the winning pudding team! Not that I'm competitive or anything. I suspect the ginger syrup pud might have won, if it'd been part of the main event.
I'm a bit ill today from excessive sugar consumption! Do other people get 'sugar hangovers' or is it just me?
And it's snowing again..... I think we might get a power cut any minute now.