WEEKEND WEB: The proof is in the pudding
TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess
I’ve been watching ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ over the last two weeks and as, usual, I’m fascinated by the Bushtucker Trials, particularly the eating challenges.
Recently two celebs had to force down tempting dishes such as ‘critter en croute’ and ‘stench onion soup’.
This weekend, however, Dougie and I witnessed a group of people who attempted a much more pleasurable culinary trial. We were in the Cotswolds for the weekend, staying at the Three Ways House, a hotel which is home to the famous Pudding Club.
This isn’t a secret society where members are only accepted if they can do extraordinary things with an apple crumble. No, it’s a regular Friday night event at the hotel and anyone can attend if they book ahead.
Unfortunately, Dougie and I had left it a bit late in booking to join the party but we could see and hear much of the goings-on from our table in the adjoining restaurant.
The Pudding Club was established in 1985 and is an eccentric institution which brings visitors flocking to the doors of this pretty honey-coloured stone establishment in the tiny village of Mickleton.
With a mission to preserve the Great British Pudding, the meeting of the Pudding Club is presided over by The Pudding Master. He introduces the event to the gathered guests and a light main meal is served. I say ‘light’ but from our vantage point, there were a lot of dishes being brought to the hungry diners.
Each guest is given seven puddings to eat and will score them individually before one pudding is voted the best of the night. This is a noisy affair. The Parade of Puddings involves much cheering and spoon-thumping. Tactics are suggested; pudding-lovers are warned to pace themselves. For these are not delicate desserts. These are rib-sticking, suet-filled, syrupy sponges served with jugs of hot milky custard, all seven gallons of it.
Of the seven puddings on offer last Friday, Dougie and I tasted three of them as they also appeared as a trio of puds on our own menu. We tucked into huge helpings of sticky toffee and date pudding, very chocolate pudding and syrup sponge. Even just sharing three puddings was a massive undertaking. I don’t know how the excited guests in the next room also managed bread and butter pudding, plum crumble, mincemeat roly-poly and, the gatecrasher at the pudding party, a serving of passion fruit meringue.
We eased ourselves from the dining chairs to the comfy seats by the fire in the lounge and then, after coffee, headed upstairs to our room. A very normal bedroom, unlike some of the themed rooms you can book at the Three Ways House. Fancy staying in The Chocolate Room or The Spotted Dick and Custard Room?
I don’t know which pudding was voted the best that night but our favourite was the sticky toffee and date pudding. I hope the gathered Pudding Club members managed to eat all seven dishes. Gold stars for them if they did.
• You can read Trish’s blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk