Dinner at Verzon House – Perfect Pancakes & Sweet Treats

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I’m quite happy to dine alone. I supposed my camera keeps me company. Years ago I did some work for the EA touring the Kent coastline surveying beaches. That was a good job! Although everything was paid for, and they were quite happy for me to claim expenses for a full evening meal, pretty much every evening I grabbed a salad from Waitrose and ate it on the beach, in my car, or in my hotel room. I used to think that people might think that, as I was dining alone, I’d already eaten dinner at home and then sneaked out for more food!

Of course I know now that nobody would think that, and even if they did, stuff ‘em, I like my dinners!

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On my second night at Verzon House I dined, happily, alone. I choose the Caramelised Onion, Broccoli & Pine Nut Pancakes with Roast Garlic Velouté, which turned out to be a fantastic choice and much more detailed and exquisite than I thought a pancake could ever be.

Broad beans, garden peas, spring onion, raddish, pea shoots, samphire (one of my most favourite foods!), asparagus, yellow courgette and a sweet garden pea puree.

Soft pancakes filled with rich, creamy blue cheese, broccoli, red onion and toasted pine nuts, served with such a lovely assortment of green goodies.

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You know I don’t like peas? Well, these ones were more than acceptable.

I’m usually put off by the thought of savoury pancakes, especially since Adam told me how as a child he was offered a pancake, and thinking it would be full of sweetness bit into it, only to find it was loaded with Brussels Sprouts!

I followed this healthy pancake delight with Dark Chocolate Crème Brulée with Fruit & Nut Ice Cream. 

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Cool, creamy fruit and nut ice cream perched atop a crisp choc-chip chocolate biscuit, sitting on a crisp sugar crust, perfectly thin and caramelised. Beneath this delicately breakable layer, a creamy, smooth, moussey chocolate custard, with just the right density. Rich, but not sickly. Sweet, but not sugary. Dense, but not claggy. Is claggy a word?

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Mixed together the flavours of the nutty ice cream, dark chocolate creme and crisp caramelised crust, were delicious, sweet and satisfying. Plus it didn’t send me sugar blind! Nice work Head Chef C Mc D!

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Thank you Verzon House for yet another enjoyable and delicious meal!

Two Perfect Nights at Verzon House Hotel, Ledbury (2 of 2)

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I slept heavily. It was a quiet night in a peaceful hotel. I went down for breakfast and ordered Hedonist Bakery French Toast with Knightwick Streaky Bacon. I overheard a couple talking over their Full English’s, ‘The fish looked a bit sick, so he pulled it out of the pond and shot it in the head,’ she read from the paper, as the man went and sniffed the marmalade. All was well in the world.

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Later on in the bar I got talking to the breakfast couple, Paul and Hazel, who were highly entertaining and kept me up until 2.30am. Another great thing about Verzon House is that they will keep the bar open for residents as long as required, and of course, their bar is well stocked with such delights as Chase Marmalade Vodka and Elegant Gin.

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I love the feel of Verzon House, it’s a stunning old farmhouse built with an incredible vista over the Malvern Hills, embracing the great style of it’s era whilst bringing in modern classics too. What I really like is the feeling that the place is reconnecting with it’s surroundings and bringing the farm back into the heart of the house. Fresh herbs sit potted on the dining tables, paintings depict pheasants and deer, and the kitchen uses the best local produce to the most excellent effect.

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It’s only ever been sunny when I’ve visited Herfordshire, so I’ve always been very lucky with the weather, but I can imagine it is beautiful here all year round. In the snow it must be really stunning. I think I’ll have to go back in the winter and check though, just to be sure!

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Verzon House is such a relaxing place to stay. The staff are so friendly and helpful (Hola! Gemma, Loren, Sophie and Imogen) and it really does feel like home from home. Plus I think it’s the perfect party place.

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Verzon House Hotel is situated in the village of Trumpet, just outside Ledbury in Herefordshire.

The rate for a Suite (like the one I stayed in) is £150 per night, for two people, including breakfast.

Thank you to the superb team at Verzon House for the most lovely stay, again!

Shot, Steel & Sculpture

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One of my main reasons for visiting Herefordshire, aside from my return to Trumpet and my love of Verzon House, was to visit the Ledbury Welding & Engineering company and do the final work on my sculpture for the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

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This project for WWT has been ongoing since March 2013, and I’m very excited that it is now near completion. I spent two days solid working with the team at Ledbury on the finishing touches, and I am really chuffed with the results.

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At Ledbury I got to work with all sorts of interesting people, including a man called Bunny and lovely chap called Ian who I had a long conversation about death with!

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It was Aidy who is in charge of the shot blaster’s birthday, and he was so helpful and kind that I wanted to show my appreciation. I popped to the local bakery at lunchtime and went back to the workshop in search of the birthday boy. Eventually I found him, with his friends, five big welder men, sat in a smoking hut. ‘Oh, look! It’s a party!’ I exclaimed as I delivered cakes and doughnuts. It was only later that I thought about it – of course, none of his colleagues had any idea who I was, or where I’d popped up from with my pastry products!

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I had a really productive visit, there was a lot of hard work involved, but we got there. Finally!

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Now all that remains is for delivery and installation to Welney, and of course, we’re going to have to arrange the official unveiling for all of the wonderful community members who put their ideas together to help create this piece of real public art.

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Dinner at Verzon House – Tasty Burgers & Perfect Puds

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I spoke to a charming elderly gentleman in the dining room at Verzon House. He reminisced about the previous owners generosity towards him when his wife had to go into care. He told me how grand the dining room had been, with it’s polished wooden tables, how there was always warm bread and butter, small squares of smoked salmon sandwiches when you ordered a drink at the bar, and how the double G&Ts were actually double doubles. He also said that he had to forget all of that. This is a lovely new place, a different place, the food is still wonderfully good, and the other place is just a memory.

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We talked across the empty dining room before our meals, and the other diners, arrived.

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I had the  The Verzon Burger, Triple Cooked Chips, Three Cabbage Coleslaw. It arrived, attractively presented on a mica slate, the chips in a cute little pan, and everything a little bit too neatly balanced for my fat hands and need for mayonnaise.

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The two little white dishes contained the coleslaw made of savoy, red cabbage and carrot, with a peppery aftertaste, and a light salsa with the unmistakable flavours of fresh runner beans, red onion and olive oil.

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In their sweet little pan sat the big fat triple cooked chips, with a gently crispy exterior and a white soft centre.

The battered onion slices, like tasty onion petals, were perfect (and, I think, preferable to onion rings) – slightly salted batter, crisp and light, encasing sweet juicy white onion.

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A beautifully seasoned and sweet Hereford beef burger sat beneath two slices of ripe red tomato and some simple green lettuce, in a soft white glazed bun which was topped with sesame and poppy seeds. The burger had a gently sweet and sticky caramelised outer, having been glazed with a local real ale caramel and cooked to perfection on the Josper Grill.

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For pudding I couldn’t resist the Tonka Bean Panna Cotta with Poached Cherries. I’ve had Tonka before, a couple of years ago, in the Czech Republic, but the language barrier didn’t allow me full understanding of what I was eating, and the enjoyment soon overtook the need to know. Then I forgot to look it up.

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Like a stronger tasting vanilla, Tonka beans are related to peas and look like shrivelled and rolled rabbit droppings. According to Wikipedia the use of Tonka beans in the food industry is banned in the US. Oooo!

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Still, I enjoyed the most deliciously creamy and smooth Panna Cotta I’ve ever eaten. It really was perfect. The Tonka flavour is sweet and rich without being overpowering. The balance with the alcohol laced poached dark cherries really was quite delightful, and I managed to eat all of the velvety goodness, of course!

Thank you Verzon House for a delicious meal, Head Chef Callum McDonald, you’ve done it again!

Two Perfect Nights at Verzon House Hotel, Ledbury (1 of 2)

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My day has gone from forcing a chicken to be sick, to overseeing metal fabrication and lugging rusty lumps around, to my current position of relaxing in a big squishy bed nest at the beautiful Verzon House Hotel.

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I’m back in Trumpet. Perhaps this is my spiritual home. I think so.

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After a long ol’ sleepy drive to Ledbury, and a busy day of pointing, carrying, and pointing some more, I am delighted to be resting my head on the soft satin cotton pillowcases and enjoying the light breeze through the open sash windows.

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I also very much enjoyed listening to a big fat Ferrari drive off just now. Warrrp, warrrrp, warrrrp, through the gears. I don’t think he was giving it enough welly though.

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I’m in the newly appointed Room 1 (just across the corridor from the room I stayed in on my last visit). It’s a whopper. When Lauren brought me up and opened the door we were both stunned. The new owners are working their way through the hotel, updating and redesigning everything, and this room has had the treatment. I’m it’s lucky first guest, and I am being very careful!

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I think we have the same carpet in our house, but we don’t have a freestanding bath in our bedroom, a huge walk-in closet or a toilet set in a deep alcove with a motion sensor light above it.

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The shower is immense, the bath is relaxing, but the toilet unnerved me a little!

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You know, I’ve stayed at Verzon House before and loved it. I remember the big squishy bed, I’m sure it was the nicest bed I’ve slept in. I also remember that I couldn’t get wifi in my room and had to spend a lot of time in the bar with my laptop for company, but now there’s very good wifi and I’m drinking tea and surfing the net from the big squishy bed. Hooray!

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The room is lovely, calm and clear. Subtle tones. Perhaps in need of a painting on the big, smooth wall, or a full length mirror, that’d be most handy. There’s everything I need here though, and there are nice touches like the little handmade biscuits and the different books and magazines in each room.

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I noticed some other changes in the House too: the lights in the restaurant are different, the hall and stairs are newly carpeted and the amazing french chandeliers I’d been told about now hang gloriously in the stairwell.

It’s so lovely, I’m glad to be back.

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Verzon House Hotel is situated in the village of Trumpet, just outside Ledbury in Herefordshire.

The rate for a Suite (like the one I stayed in) is £150 per night, for two people, including breakfast.

Thank you to the superb team at Verzon House for the most lovely stay, again!