Saturday, 21 April 2012

Its all very exciting

Life is all very exciting at the moment as we concentrate on the future of the Victoria Inn and the route with which we're going to take with her. SOH and I are convinced that whilst we may indeed be very good at what we doing in Salcombe, we have to keep working very hard to stay at the top of our game - so we had our meeting with a business consultant, we've drawn up our aims and goals for the next seven years and we are now on track to make that happen.

When we first came to Salcombe SOH always had the fact in his head that living in such a glorious place he wanted to use only local produce and whilst we try to do that now as much as possible - we both know that we can do so much more. So yesterday saw us and James our Chef going to meet Graham from Holsome Farm (not far from Salcombe) and talking to him about his cattle and what he can do to supply us with meat. Turns out our Chef James is a whizz at boning meat and turning out perfect cuts of meat ............. what a little star! Anyway - I get ahead of myself, after having met his butchers and seen (and bought) some of the meat, Graham took us to the actual farm to see where the cattle graze and how well looked after they are.  The cattle he uses are pedigree British White and they get fed a splendid diet of grass, turnips, hay, home-grown cereals (wheat and barley), this in turn leads to the meat having a succulent full flavoured taste.  Their meat is hung for up to three weeks to mature so that it is succulent, full of flavour and very tender. Graham said that they are inspected by the Meat Hygiene service on a regular basis, so therefore all their meat has traceability and quality is  assured.  Now then, at heart, I am still a City girl and walking in a field looking at cows is not really my thing - but after having been cajoled by the men to walk and have a look at these fine beasts I found myself looking at very fine cows and calves, but one cow immediately sniffed out the fact that I was slightly fearful and made it her mission to reduce me to a nervous wreck by making moves to chase me out of the field....... not once but several times!! In the end Graham had to shoo her away from us, but the men folk seemed to enjoy my discomfort!!! James was quick to tell the staff back at the pub about my sprint!!
So then, we bought some meat which James has already butchered into joint and steaks and once we've tasted we'll decide whether we'll be able to work with Graham on a regular basis.   We also this week got our Licence to Buy Fish from the Marine Management Organisation - so we have a couple of meetings lined up for next week with fish / lobster fishermen and our plan is to really major on fish in the summer and  this wonderful local produce, so, I'll keep you updated as to our progress.   Apart from that we have also been working on a new sandwich menu and from Tuesday we are introducing 'Victoria's Main Brace Butties'..............going back to a local produce theme we are going to be using great bread from a local baker - Jerome - the Frenchmans Bakery! The sandwichs are going to be lovely thick doorstops of bread but presented in a semi open manner - when we start doing them, I'll take some photo's for you to see how good they look...... Watch out for the new Fish Finger one!!

I love bringing all our ideas together and coming up with things to keep us fresh, current and inviting and I hope you do to?!?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Its been a while

It seems to have been ages since I last blogged - but boy oh boy have we had a busy Easter!! I honestly think its been the busiest Easter we've had since we've been here at the Victoria but once today is over and accounted for we'll be able to do the maths and say for certain. But Salcombe was hugely busy, you could have easily be mistaken for thinking it was a summers day............. plus Easter was later last year and the weather was just gorgeous. The weather this year was actually not as bad as we'd been fearing (blooming freezing today though - another bitingly cold wind!)

Wild bluebells in our garden
Thought you'd like to see this picture of one of the clumps of natural bluebells that are in out garden here at the pub - just soooo pretty!

A great shame that the St Austell little sapling planted in celebration of their 100 years in the business was snapped by a 'little darling' during the Easter weekend, but SOH is hopeful of being able to save it...........  I do wonder sometimes about the children (or rather their parents) that come to visit us and their behaviour. It does make me realise why some pubs are so NOT child friendly.  To be fair I guess it's like all things in life - it's only the minority of children (parents) that behave in this way - but it's really hard when you've put so much love and effort into the pub garden to see flowers picked and thrown around and such like being shown such disregard.  But hey ho, I suppose it's the way of the world and we'll continue to encourage children to come into our garden and enjoy themselves but in such a way that ALL children can enjoy what we've done.

Our boat in the garden
Talking of the garden, I think we're going to have something rather wonderful painted on the big plain red doors to the garden entrance and we are very excited about it..... but you're going to have to watch this space for the progress of this!!!

We were so busy  Easter weekend that in the history of SOH being in this business we ALMOST ran out of beer - come the Tuesday following the weekend we had only a little bit of 1 beer left - despite ordering over and above what we thought we'd need.... how amazing is that!! Can't begin to tell you how many kilo's of fish we sold and no's of Burgers coming out of the kitchen.

Just before the Easter SOH and I had a visit to one of Rick Steins places - the Cornish Arms in St Merryn - another St Austell pub.  The great man wasn't there (shame!) but his gorgeous Head Chef Luke was (why are so many Chef's small?? - my Chef says they start off tall but the hard work shrinks them!!) and actually he was pretty easy on the eye (!) and a thoroughly likeable young man.  We went with the sole intention of seeing what we could learn and what we could do to ensure that were doing the sorts of food that would enable faster turn around time in the height of summer.  We came away with a few good ideas, but Luke was very complimentary when told about what we are currently doing and actually we also came away thinking likewise!! 

But we are definitely going to be serving more fresh fish from now on and through the summer and I'll keep you posted over the next few weeks about our new summer menus.  The other thing we are definitely going to be doing this year is opening up our upstairs seating area more.  Our summer staff are almost in place and a couple of youngsters to be doing a bit more of the running up and down stairs.

So then, that was Easter. Hopefully business will start to climb up and up towards the summer now and we start to plan properly for the big events this year. I did a Facebook poll about whether we should have TV in the Victoria for the Olympics and Her Majesty's Jubilee - but got a resounding no! So not sure we shall have a TV, but we are planning our own 'inside' street party for the Jubilee.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Happy Easter Folks

Happy Easter all - well almost of course! But for us here in Salcombe the Easter hols have kicked off! So I thought before the Harbour gets too full with boats, I'd show you a picture I took one day recently with a very inquisitive seagull who didn't mind me being too close to him at all - he didn't move a muscle!! After the beautiful weather the last fortnight we've gone back to really bitingly cold Easterly winds......... I painted the fence at home this week with a t shirt and 2 sweaters on and I was still frozen!!!  It does mean of course that the Victoria Inn has been busy with guests wanting to sit by the warmth of our fire ....Every cloud has a silver lining!! :)

Our spring menu went live this week - here is a link to the website page if you'd like to have a sneak preview:
Its proving really popular and the starters especially so - I can honestly say that the tapenade made by our Chef James is the best I've ever tasted! Its all about the quality of the olives used apparently.  We are moving very much towards having more fish on our menu, so we've applied to the Ministry of something for a buyers licence - this will mean we can buy direct from local fishermen and I hope to be able to tell you more about that very soon. Fish is not a cheap option but we think it's the way to go - we are right by the sea, and although we have to have it delivered from Brixham and Plymouth, we know that our customers like to have fish when they come to Salcombe. We're also going to be looking at fish that you may not have had before, but fish that we know you will absolutely love! So watch this space.......................

What else???? Well, the garden is starting to do well as the warm sun helped make the re-seeding take, so we hope to be able to open the grassed area up for the first May Bank Holiday. The fences at the Victoria Inn have also been painted (NOT by me!!) as well as the flower boxes. We think we're going to hold off the planting till closer to the summer, as our spring plants last year were gorgeous and could have been kept through to the summer but we pulled up and re-planted and they didn't do very well at all.........

I've also run a face book question this week on whether we should get a TV for the Olympics and the Jubilee and so far most people want us to stay a TV free zone....????!/pages/The-Victoria-Inn-Salcombe/136141733123940 

What do you think????????? Why don't you vote and let me know.

Lastly, for those of you who love to come and see them - the Old Gaffers are at the Victoria Inn, Saturday 7th April - see you there??