Sunday, 15 December 2013

Countdown to Christmas

It’s been a weekend of unrepentant gluttony and over-indulgence, with two Christmas meals to get stuck into, but fortunately with a day off in between them both. Friday evening saw my wife and I attending my company’s Christmas party, whilst today (Sunday) it was West Kent CAMRA’s Christmas meal. The events were quite contrasting, but both were equally enjoyable in their own way.

Friday’s party was held at the Little Brown Jug, the local pub in the village where my firm is based. The Jug is a Greene King pub, leased out to a local chain called Whiting & Hammond, who run around half a dozen pubs in West Kent and East Sussex. It has a good reputation for food, even though the beer offerings are of less appeal to the typical beer enthusiast. In complete contrast, today’s meal was held at what has become one of the best pubs in the area, serving a wide range of locally brewed ales, in tastefully renovated surroundings, along with an equally good range of home-cooked food.

Around 50 of us attended Friday’s event, but the Jug is a pub which has been greatly extended over the years, and thus had no trouble in accommodating not just our group, but several others as well. The food, the service and the presentation were faultless, and even the beer, in the form of Larkins Traditional, was ok, but half-way through the meal I switched to wine anyway, so the limited beer selection did not pose a problem. Food wise I went for a non-traditional option in the form of fish stew and lobster bisque, which was excellent. (One can definitely have too much turkey at Christmas!). The wine, in the form of a full-bodied Spanish red, was also very good; too good in fact as my aching head testified the following morning!

Sunday’s meal took place at the Windmill, at Sevenoaks Weald, and was a complete contrast with six cask ales on offer. Four of them were local, plus two from further a field, and all were very reasonably priced. With the exception of the Larkins Traditional, which was replaced later on, I worked my way up through the gravities, starting with Dark Star Darkness and ending up on the superb 7.5% Christmas Ale from Harvey’s. In between I had Fife & Drum, a 3.8% golden ale from Musket Brewery, one of Kent’s newest micros, Trade Winds from Cairngorm Brewery and East Street Cream from RCH.
Food wise I again went for the non-traditional option, this time choosing the tasty and well-presented pork saltimbocca with potato rosti and creamed spinach. There were 16 of us in total, a number which filled the dining area at the far end of the pub virtually to capacity. All in all it was an excellent do; in fact one of the most enjoyable and best attended Christmas meals the branch has hosted over the years.

So after an indulgent weekend it’s back to work until Christmas Eve when the festivities, this time, kick off at home. My thanks go out to the management and staff at both the Little Brown Jug and the Windmill for looking after us so well over the last couple of days.


Neville Grundy said...

"my firm is based, at the local pub the Little Brown Jug" - lucky you; I used to be in an ordinary office block.

Paul Bailey said...

Thanks for pointing that one out, Nev. I have amended the text accordingly.