I love heading north.
A short drive from Bolton gets you off the beaten track and into the Ribble Valley which is one of Britain's hidden gems.
Set within the Forest of Bowland, there are plenty of small Lancashire villages to explore, breathtaking countryside to enjoy and a wealth of great places to eat with local produce in abundance throughout the Ribble Valley. If you're into Game of Thrones, think Winterfell.
Last Friday our family ended up at a beautiful country pub not too far outside of Clitheroe. Located in the pretty village of Grindleton is The Duke of York where the modern decor and friendly service made us feel so welcome it was like we were in the comfort of our own home.
We were not rushed and had the pleasure to enjoy a meal of locally sourced, seasonal food that many Ribble Valley eateries are becoming known for.
We were given a very friendly reception on arrival and I was recommended the Wyld Wood cider which went down a treat. I had to have it, given I'd married into the wild Wood family.
The ladies opted for the Summer Fizz which was a mix of Prosecco and raspberry liquor.
As we settled with our drinks we were presented with freshly baked white and brown bread served warm in a loaf tin.
Pork Belly and Black Pudding Scotch Egg with Apple Salad:
To start, Hannah and her Dad ordered the pork and black pudding scotch egg dish. A small runny quail's egg was hidden in the middle of this succulent meaty ball and it came with a crunchy crackling and a fresh salad covered by a julienne of apple.
A light and cheesy dish served in a cast iron frying pan. My Mother-in-Law was delighted with it. When we return I may even order this dish for myself as it seemed so impressive.
Crispy Duck and Chorizo Salad with Bacon Lardons and Plum Sauce:
My starter was huge and allowed me to see if duck and chorizo sit well together with their strong flavours. I can assure you that they certainly do. I want this dish again. Now!
The steak was cooked perfectly rare as I like it and came with a fresh Parmesan and rocket salad. The mustard mayonnaise that sits alongside the dish was superb, as was the peppercorn sauce which soaked into the crispy chips that came served in a little cone of newspaper!
Surprise, surprise... lamb on the menu so Hannah is having it and so is her Mum. The whole dish was so fresh. The meat was tender and pink and came with new potato discs, a leek, shallot, carrot and fresh beans and tiny onions. The gravy was excellent.
Fillet of Cod with Spinach, Broccoli, Mussels and Tagliatelle:
My father-in-law loves his fish and decided on the cod dish which was perfectly presented. The mixture of pasta and fish was balanced nicely with the mussels.
Ice Cream Sundae, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Italian Meringue, Ice Cream and Toffee Sauce:
I couldn't manage a dessert and only ordered a carajillo coffee (espresso with brandy). That didn't prevent me from stealing mouthfuls of Hannah's pud though which was rich and luxurious. The sundae was full of gooey sticky toffee squares, chocolate ice cream and on top sat the lightest Italian meringue I have ever tasted.
Imagine the fluffy insides of a Tunnock's Teacake and you will understand...
Créme Brulee is a family favourite which always seems to be ordered by at least one person when we go out. This night was no exception and the presentation of the dish was imaginative. The sorbet was a welcome accompaniment to refresh the palate.
It was getting dark by the time we left The Duke of York for the enjoyable drive home. The fresh country air was still humid and there was the distinct scent of summer flowers in the air.
We all agreed that it was a meal to remember and it won't be long before we return to a new favourite place to eat.