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Bramhalls’

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Today’s lunch outing in Ashbourne. Fab place with a great menu and frequently changing specials. They also have a lovely deli. Worth checking out if you’re in the area.

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Sutton Bonington Food Market

Today I dropped into the Sutton Bonington Food Market. It was in their Uni campus there which I’d driven past hundreds of times but never been inside (why would I?). There were some good stalls there, quite a few with student discounts, and most pretty well priced. I tried a sausage cob which tasted great but was so undercooked that it was still pink so I couldn’t eat it all, I also had a bison burger which was gorgeous. We brought home a key-lime pie, gingerbread cake, croissant and poppy seed twist. It was a good little market and worth it seeing as I’m so close by but nothing really new or different. They are an occasional event and if I remember I’ll pop by again – in fact I only remembered today because Valentine Warner posted about it on Twitter!

Vick.

Review of Jack Rabbits

For those unaware of it I am a huge fan of fantasy fiction and recently started going to conventions to meet other readers and some of the authors whose books I love. The latest was Edge Lit at the Quad in Derby (see my friend Paul’s report here) and it was quite honestly the best I’d been to in ages, a good range of things going on and I had the chance to talk to a lot of good friends and hopefully made a few new ones as well.

I started the day with a group of my favourite people at Jack Rabbits cafe in Derby city centre. Between us we had a variety of breakfasts, lots of odd conversation and much coffee. It’s a beautiful cafe with a farmhouse atmosphere, mismatched chairs and tin crockery.

I had a latte and a toasted Crich fruit square. The foam on the coffee was a good consistency but there wasn’t really enough and sadly the coffee was actually quite weak. I was reliably informed by my sidekicks that the black coffee was much stronger. Tea came with a tin mug of hot water and a tea bag separate, I love tea like that because you can make it quite weak but it would be hard to get a really strong cup from it. The tin mugs are lovely and keep the drinks very warm although they could be very hot to the touch.

Mid-way through our visit an arrival of bread marched in and looked completely wonderful. You can have a look on their website to see all of the local suppliers that they use and browse the menu in advance. Our table (or rather the people sat around it) also had bacon sandwiches, toast, bacon and scrambled eggs. All passed with merits! The cakes were a little disappointing, none really grabbed my fancy and the fruit square I had was a little dry. The portion sizes were huge and good value for money though.

The staff were friendly and helpful without being too over attentive. There was quite a mixture of customers but early on a Saturday morning, unsurprisingly, there were quite a number of small children. It isn’t an easy place to negotiate and there is little room, it would be quite tricky with a wheelchair and it was quite hard to get around people.

Jack Rabbits is a lovely cafe and a great find in Derby (which really needs more good foodie places). This is a really pretty little place with great staff and atmosphere. It was a shame that the drinks were not really strong enough for me. This is definitely somewhere to go for a meal rather than coffee and cakes and I am really looking forward to going back soon to try out more of the meals because all of the ones that I saw there looked amazing!

This Week

This week I have been stressed.

Honestly that could be the end of that. However I have been up to a few things that might be worth mentioning. My latest cookbook review has been posted on the Huffington Post blog looking at ‘Boutique Baking’ by Peggy Porschen.

I’ve been writing political poetry, I’m not sharing much of it online but I am thinking of combining the found poetry idea with political poems to see what comes next. I’ve also looked at more paint colour combinations than is healthy. I now sit and talk about interior decor. My apologies for becoming so deeply dull.

I have read a huge number of books recently and took loads back to the library so I’ll just name a few. ‘Matched’ and ‘Crossed’ by Ally Condie were great although it took me a while to get into them. ‘The Secret Countess’ by Eva Ibbotson sounded like it would tick lots of boxes for me and I was thrilled when I liked it as much as I thought I would! ‘Miss Wonderful’ by Loretta Chase which was an unusual pick for me but I actually really enjoyed it. A lot of the books I’m reading at the moment are ones that were 9 or 10 rated by The Book Smugglers. I also decided to re-read ‘The Daughter of Time’ by Josephine Tey after reading Nicola Upson’s series about the author. Another recommendation was ‘Hexwood’ by Diana Wynne Jones which Zoë Marriott recommended and I have three more that she suggested for when I am in the middle of moving. I finally read ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green (I’ve been spacing them out to save them) which I thought was wonderful but it still only sits at #3 or 4 on my John Green list. I’m glad I didn’t start with it, anyway. ‘The Iron King’ by Julie Kagawa was a surprise and another that took me a while to enjoy but I’ll be getting the rest of the series. I’m now reading ‘Half-Brother’ by Kenneth Oppel which is great so far.

And, if that isn’t enough I have four books to read that I picked up at Edge Lit yesterday. For once all of the books I got at a convention were ones that I wanted to read – no swapping required! It was a brilliant day out where I saw friends that I don’t see often enough, met some people I only knew from the internets and (if I didn’t terrify people too much) made some new friends as well.

Vick.

The Apple Tree

We had to battle through sudden cloudbursts and patches of enthusiastic flooding to reach The Apple Tree (ironically enough on Flood Street) in Ockbrook but it was the perfect remedy to a wet, stressful day.

I had read about the cafe online and had been looking forward to investigating further. It fits quite perfectly the idea of a very charming, independent tea shop. The front half of the store is a craft and card shop with some lovely gifts and a great range of very unique cards. For saying that there are only five tables it has a lovely atmosphere and there are little details that make it welcoming. They use a range of very eclectic crockery and the menus have a note in them encouraging people to donate their old cups and saucers to the shop to be used again rather than thrown away.

Even though it was late afternoon but the time we arrived there was still a good range of cakes, cookies and muffins to choose from. I had a piece of the dark chocolate rocky road, which was wonderful, not too sweet and with an unexpectedly good texture to it. The date and walnut cake was likewise beautiful with a loose crumb and bags of flavour served with plenty of butter.

The drinks menu is extensive with lots of Twinings teas and a large coffee menu as well. I had a flat white, which is a rarity around here anyway, and it was really quite good. I could have done with it being stronger (definitely go for the flat white over a latte here) but it had a nice taste and was a good blend to be made into a range of drinks as it still had enough character even in a milky coffee. Mine was made to a good temperature although it needed to be made with a little more texture in the foam to be a true flat white.

The food menu is quite limited but has a good mix so even without a lot of choices there is probably something for everyone. This is very much a cafe that does some food rather than being a real lunch type place. There is also a kids menu which I would imagine is popular here. The prices are very reasonable and I had a large coffee and good sized piece of cake for £3.

The layout of the cafe is quite snug but when sitting down it doesn’t feel cramped and it wouldn’t be too hard to fit a wheelchair inside. The toilet is tucked away behind the counter and is accessible but cramped for space so might be a tight fit. The chairs are simple but cheered up with lovely kitschy cushions. While we were sitting it filled up, an after school rush with an equal mix of parents and kids. The walls have antique photographs and paintings, mostly for sale as well. It would be very easy to drive past without knowing it was here and the parking is rather tricky in the village but I’ve very glad to have found it.

The Apple Tree is a delight, rather hidden away but worth visiting both for the cakes, drinks and as a relaxing bolt hole away from nearby Derby and Nottingham. I’ll certainly be going back again.

Open Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 4pm. http://www.theappletreegiftshop.co.uk/